Friday, July 8, 2011

B2C And "The Shopping Experience"

"(T)here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.  We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.  But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. ”
—Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

As quirky as that quote is I cannot help but relate to it from time to time;  whenever I begin to layout my expectations for our new shopping cart software I cannot help but get tangled up in the 'knowns' and the 'unknowns.'

Most ecommerce sites look at the shopping cart as something to get a consumer through as quickly as possible; its like the self service, 15 items or less lane, at the super market.  All the effort is put toward the website, like merchandising a store window, all the effort is put to enticing you to purchase, but once you have decided to purchase you are "dropped off " or transferred to a cold and uninviting shopping cart.  We have done everything we can do to assure you of our superior customer service, we have added 24/7 customer service via chat, and we have all sorts of links, and "Frequently Asked Questions" sections, but the moment you click "add to cart" we disappear during the check out process, and do not re emerge until the sale is complete.

If you think about it, the innovation of communities, social media, and branding, to name a few, have existed from time immemorial in the timeline of the development of social man; thus, all the only innovation that the internet represents is just the re-creation of a past, "known known."

Now, we see ecommerce talking about "the shopping experience."

For most of us who are over 40 we can remember what a true shopping experience was;  it involved a small specialty store where a sales person would not just wait on you, but would also flatter and suggest.  You knew, upon leaving a store, that you had had a great shopping experience if you actually ended up walking out of the store with a lot more than you went into the store to buy initially.  You may have cursed yourself for overspending but the reality was that you enjoyed every minute of it.

I cheer on the internet because it is in fact breathing life back into the concept of a specialty store; the opportunity to find exactly what we want, or the options to find things you never knew you needed, without being limited by how far you are willing to drive is just awesome.  But, to call it a "shopping experience" is really a long way from the truth.

The "ideal" ecommerce shopping experience involves a loyalty program that actually begins the shopping cart experience by knowing the consumer by name; a very good sales clerk in a specialty store would have known your name by the time you reached the cash register.  As part of the concept of a loyalty program an empowered ecommerce program should know whether you purchased before and what you purchased before.  It should be able to "compliment" a consumer for their purchases and at some point "suggest" something to compliment the items purchased.  I know from experience that if a consumer calls in an order it is very easy to recommend a new color of a garment or another garment and before you know it you have increased the value of their order by 20%;  now a Swedish company is coming up with new technology in this area but realistically we are talking about taking a database and creating a command matrix that would trigger events during the check out process.

We have the technology to create little talking characters that pop up on a website and entice you to visit the website via a prerecorded voice message (excuse me if I don't use the "techy" terms) but why can't we have a little prerecorded sales clerk that would assist with the shopping cart check out process?  If a consumer wants to breeze through the process then they could click an end to the "floating" video clerk and zip through the process.  But the reality is, for a greater number of consumers, I think that creating a true shopping experience from within the shopping cart program would be enjoyable and dramatically increase sales for the website.

Little pictures or blocks of item, with such text as, "People who purchases this also looked at this..." just doesn't cut it!  But the ability to suggest that something they didn't buy would really work with something they did buy would take ecommerce to the level of a "shopping experience."

We are watching as venture capitalists pour millions of dollars into online retailers such as Trunk Club  who's whole premise is based upon,
"We start with an assortment of the best brands in men’s fashion, and then personally hand select a “trunk” of clothes for you based on your preferences."
Oh, and also the club like concepts Jewelmint and Beachmint, both of which are based upon the premise of individualized style preselected for you.

Nothing different than back in the good ol' days when we experienced sales clerks that knew how to read a customer!  No reason that cannot be built into a shopping cart to recreate a true shopping experience!  I guess this is an example of a "Known Unknown!"


Carl said...

Links to information on great ecommerce design....

annaharris said...

Ecommerce Shopping Cart is more beneficial for customers because it provide comparative price in market and customers buy product any time by paying online with 24/7 customer support form online retailers.