Feb 6, 2015 - Anthony Severo

Inspirational Shopping and the new Retail Experience

Conversion vs. Inspiration: the other 95%

If you started an online store 10 years ago, your goal was to deliver an experience that simulated a physical store. Products were grouped into logical categories (e.g., Men > Shirts) and users could find what they were looking for by visiting the desired category. In the digital world, this experience has been enhanced with the introduction of cross-sells, upsells, promos, and a user-friendly buying experience. Conversion rates have been highly optimized and there is little to gain with further optimization.

But consider this amazing fact: 95% of users are NOT converting. Isn’t the opportunity of engaging this 95% far more interesting than optimizing the 5%? We believe that a large part of these users are in search of inspiration, and this is where the current digital solutions fall flat.

Think like your customers

It’s time for you to revamp your digital experiences. Specifically, to move from “selling” to “inspiring”, with content that entertains and engages. Right now, what is being presented to your customers doesn’t match their thoughts:

  • You are showing them a shirt, they are looking for a “look”.
  • You are showing them a couch, they are looking to upgrade their living room style.
  • You are showing them risotto, they are interested in full meal ideas.

We believe that if we fulfill customers’ discovery with the right inspiration, the sale will be far greater. Think like your users and sell them an entire outfit for $1,000 instead of a shirt for $125.

So how do you get there?

Digital retailers need to start thinking differently. It’s not about the sales conversion...it’s about the engagement. The questions you need to be asking are:

  • How do I differentiate between those that want to shop and those that want to be inspired?
  • How do I quickly capture those that want to be inspired?
  • How do I personalize the experience so that the inspiration makes sense to the various users (men vs. women, hip vs. conservative, etc.)

Getting to answers requires experimentation. We may not know the answers, but with the right tools we believe users will tell us. We need to be willing to try, fail, iterate, and discover. In the digital world we will learn with every click, every view, every abandonment. We may even learn what works from learning what does not work. Some of our key tools include:

Branding: The experimentation needs to be guided by strong marketing leads that understand your brand and ensure new ideas are on-brand.

Content: The ideas need to be entertaining and engaging. What inspires? Videos, style finders, inspirational galleries, expert advice, relevant stories and brand ambassadors are just a few of the possibilities.

Technology: Your technology needs to be nimble enough to support rapid experimentation, personalization, A/B testing, and the ability to launch content within a short timeframe.

Take some time to really analyze the experience you’re providing to your customers, and you’ll find that you can be doing much more and reaching a much larger audience. It’s time to move on from the simple conversion game and join the wider world of Inspirational Shopping.