Web based shopping has changed over the last few years, with the focus now on customer experience and satisfaction. These days it is much more than just selling low priced products, it is about speed, efficiency, choice, and delivery. The most successful online stores are those that have adapted their businesses to the needs of the customer by creating sites that are user friendly and attractive, whilst still being functional and appealing. If choice and value are added to this, then the chances for success are almost guaranteed.
If you visit any online retail store you are typically greeted with large banner adverts that promote the latest deals and offers. This is the shop window in effect, and whatever is on the main page is designed to attract the visitor deeper into the site. The look and feel of the store is very important, as first impressions count for a lot in the world of retail. People will make up their mind about how they feel in a matter of seconds, and whether will continue or go some place else.
Much research goes into the design of all web based stores, and many companies spend lots of cash on getting this just right. It is usually well worth the investment to provide a user friendly site that welcomes visitors. The argos shopping site is one of the most popular retail sites in the UK because it is so easy to use, and to find things quickly. The clever use of graphical elements on all the pages help to advertise the deals of the week without taking up too much space for the user. This attention to detail is what separates the successful from the not so successful.
Usability is another factor for success. Research has been conducted on the behaviour of shoppers, and their likes and dislikes. One thing that stands out is that people are turned off by having to click too many times to actually buy something. Another turn off is when online stores ask too many questions about peoples backgrounds when they ant to buy. These questions are typically asked during the registration process to gain a better understanding of customer demographics.
It is used to help future marketing activities, but is certainly not a help to the customer who simply wants to buy something quickly. The littlewoods shopping catalogue has been singled out as one of the worst culprits for this, and hopefully they will take this on board to improve in the future. On the other end of the scale is Amazon, who are probably the best at reducing the amount of time it takes to buy, with their famous and popular one click buying system.
Online shopping has always been a very easy way to gain access to a wide variety of goods in quick time; this is the main appeal of it after all. However, the new demand for customer experience and satisfaction is making web based companies reach higher levels of efficiency. Those that can offer the core principles are the ones who will continue to make profit. The failures will be those who do not put the customer first.