Recreating In-Store Experiences Online
We all know why we shop online. It’s convenient, prices are better and there’s a bigger selection. Still, many customers continue to shop in stores and one big reason why is because people enjoy interacting with friends and salespeople when they shop. E-commerce sites have been trying for years to incorporate “social shopping” online with only moderate success. Here are some recent trends that can help make your e-commerce site more social:
Discover Products Your Friends Love
A lot of money comes from impulse purchases – things that we discover and love and have to have but definitely were not searching for. Sites like Fab.com and Svpply have taken social curation online by displaying products that users find. You can follow your friends and keep discovering new things to buy. The sites are constantly fresh with new products and are fun to engage with. Sites like ModCloth take this even further by letting customers vote on what they want produced. It’s a great way to help customers discover new products and get them involved in a community of shoppers.
Get Recommendations From Sales Clerks
We’ve all gone searching for a new pair of shoes only to get lost in a huge warehouse with 200 different styles. I’m always relieved when a helpful sales clerk listens to what I need and directs me to a few select choices. Online retailers have been doing this for years through algorithms of what other people bought, but only recently have sites been adding live chat functionality. Originally live chat was only for help desks but now e-commerce sites are using tools like Olark to let customers ask sales people for personal recommendations.
Ask Your Friends For Advice
Sales clerks are great but you really want to know what your friends think of your purchase. Facebook Connect lets you see what your friends have already liked but you can take that a step further by adding Facebook and email sharing templates to your site. Don’t make customers copy a bunch of links into an email. Instead, make it easy for someone to send a customized link that is automatically embedded with a nice picture and options that their friend can choose from. You can also consider adding in an automatic coupon code or deal for the friend to use.
Get More Personal Reviews
Every now and then when I’m shopping, some stranger will tell me how much they love the product I’m considering or how it blew up once they got it home. Either way I really appreciate having a face with the opinion, and I put a lot of weight on that review. I rarely buy a product online that is not well reviewed, but the reviews often seem very impersonal. Who is arsmith0722 who hates that coffee maker so much? Sites like VideoGenie are changing this by allowing sites to incorporate 20-second video reviews. At first I wondered if anyone would spend the time to watch these, but ShoeDazzle claims that video reviews have led to over 1,000 sales for them. Tout.com is a free alternate that you can add to your site with a few tweaks to the open API.
About the Author
Kate Endress is the CEO and cofounder of DITTO.com, a new cutting edge ecommerce site selling a curated collection of designer eyewear including prescription sunglasses. Kate is a graduate of Stanford Business School and was previously a private equity investor before becoming an entrepreneur.