Yes, online retailers are beginning to contribute to the change in public shopping habits, but improvements still need to be made to the service provided by many (MW February 23).
While it may be impossible to recreate online the exact look and feel of a product, many consumers prefer to use different channels for different stages of the purchasing cycle, a high proportion of which may involve an in-store visit. Where many sites fall down is that they fail to recreate the in-store experience online – there’s no dialogue or attempt to build a genuine relationship with the consumer.
Our research among women aged 25 to 34 has shown a clear desire to make “the perfect decision” when purchasing online. Women want more information, consider more decision criteria, investigate more options and consult advisers for input at each stage – they want advice based on their own lifestyle. This is because they view the first experience as the start of a potentially ongoing relationship. Once they have bought into a brand, they will usually shop with it more loyally and more often than men.
E-commerce sites aimed at women would do well to follow the example of magazines such as Grazia or sites such as net-a-porter that offer tailored advice and a softer approach to selling. Online retail mentality needs to shift from value-led to value-add.