When we live and breathe our products it’s so easy to forget that not everyone knows as much as we do about them.
It’s so easy to end up with messaging that’s not clear and a little bit diluted.
When someone hits your site you have a few seconds to make a good impression, and for them to take that next step – or to leave your site and potentially never come back.
Think about the experience people have when shopping at a bricks and mortar store.
The moment people enter a store they use their senses to experience the vibe of the store. They very quickly decide if they want to spend time looking around – or if they want to get out of there as quickly as possible.
There are 2 keywords here. Can you guess what they are?
The first keyword is senses.
People use all senses available to them. They look around, they smell, they touch, they feel. Walking into a physical store is a sensory experience.
Do something for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine yourself going to your fridge. In the fridge, you see a bright yellow lemon. You grab the lemon out, take it over to your bench and cut it in half. You can instantly see and smell how juicy the lemon is. Now, you take one half of the lemon and you lick it.
What just happened to the sensory glands?
This is exactly what you want to do when setting up an online store. You want to evoke your potential customers’ senses.
The other keyword is experience.
Every time someone visits a store they have an experience. That experience can be good, bad or indifferent.
The experiences people have in a store influences their assumptions about the products sold in that store. If they have a high-quality experience, they assume the products in the store are high quality too.
That’s why traditional retail stores spend so much money on the fitouts of their store.
Did you know that supermarkets play slow, relaxing music during their off-peak times so people take their time to browse, and they play fast, exciting music during peak times so that people make decisions faster. Do you know what a Subway does when they are quiet? They bake bread. Because the smell of freshly baked Subway bread makes people hungry for Subway!
Now, an online store is no different to a physical store — except people can only sense and experience what you give them through the computer screen.
That’s why the content you have on your website is soooo important. You need to evoke your customer’s senses and give them a good experience.
When it comes to an online store this is done in the following ways:
1. A clean and simple layout
If a store is cluttered, badly lit, dirty or cold, people have a very different experience to a store that has lovely displays, smells great and has good lighting. The same goes for an online store. You need to have a clean and simple layout that lets your products shine.
2. An easy to navigate menu
When you walk into a physical store the first thing you do is a quick scan. You may see that the store has dresses, tops, pants, a shoe section and an accessories cabinet. If you are looking for something in particular you will know where to find it. Or you’ll ask the shop attendant. Now, on an online store, there is no shop attendant, so you want to make it as easy as possible for people to navigate their way around your store.
Ashley from I Choose Me has done a great job of creating an easy to navigate menu:
3. High-Quality Product Images
Images are so important for your online store. When looking at an item in a physical store, customers can pick the item up, look at it from all angles, touch and feel it, and even try it on. They can’t do that when shopping online. So it’s your responsibility to replicate that experience as much as you possibly can. Images are the most powerful way to do that.
The human brain processes an image 60,000 times faster than text, not only that but 80% of people remember what they see, compared to 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read. So images are everything.
eComm Ignitor student, Penny from Vault Country Clothing shows us all angles of these jeans, including front, back and sides, as well as a beautiful lifestyle image:
4. Evocative product descriptions
Some people need to absorb information by reading, so it’s important that you also provide evocative product descriptions. Imagine you were at a market stall and someone came and asked about your product. Use words that would answer any frequently asked questions your customers may have, and convey any important information about your products.
5. User-generated content
“I’ll have what she’s having”. Social proof is one of the most powerful marketing tactics when it comes to persuasion. Why do you think shop attendants wear clothes that are in season, on the rack and currently for sale? If you can show your customers that other people have purchased — and love — your products, you are giving them one more reason to trust they will be happy buying from you. User-generated content is basically images that your customers send you. They may tag you in their Instagram pics or add an image to their review.
eComm Ignitor student, Colleen from Ride Proud Clothing showcases user-generated content beautifully:
A final word
When people are shopping online they can only know as much about your products as you let them. If you have an amazing product, it’s up to you to give your customers an amazing shopping experience.
Written by Megan Winter
Megan is an award-winning marketer and has worked with some of the fastest-growing eCommerce brands in the world.
Megan loves helping ethically-produced, heart-centred, soul-driven online store owners to make more income and achieve more impact.