Apr 18, 2014 - Anthony Severo

Isn’t it time for inspirational shopping?

If you are like most e-tailers you have mastered the art of optimizing your site and have maximized your conversion rate from your home page to checkout. You have added all those great features such as guided navigation, search, quickzoom, upsells, cross sells, and one click check out.

These traditional ecommerce sites work best for buyers who are ready to shop. If I need to buy jeans I simply visit a site:

  • Navigate to Mens > Pants > Jeans like a pro
  • I filter by my size (33 x 32 ) and preferred color (blue)
  • I browse the results and a few quick-zooms later I am ready to checkout

But all this assumes that I am ready to buy jeans. Sometimes I am in need of a little inspiration. I am not looking for jeans. I am looking for “the look “ and I need some help. This is where ecommerce sites fall short. Users browse aimlessly through pages of product and eventually abandon.

You should consider an alternate experience

Consider this experience:

  • I visit a site and am presented some inspirational categories
    • Hip looks for casual Friday nights
    • A polished and professional look for business travel
    • Casual and current for work
  • I select Casual Friday nights. A few questions later and we close in on a style.
  • I browse through a gallery of inspiring photos of people dressed quite nice
  • I find the look I like, one click later and the outfit is added to my cart
  • I realize how easy that was and decide to find another outfit.
  • A few easy keystrokes and I have another outfit in the cart.

The results can be fantastic!

  • The user visits the traditional site, browses aimlessly and abandons. Total product purchased - $0
  • The user visits the inspirational site and buys several outfits for a total of $350.

The inspirational site is a clear winner when someone is in need of some ideas.

But do I a need a new online store solution?

No – you do not need to a new online store. In fact traditional category based shopping isn’t going anywhere so keep it right where it’s at. A great way to start is to add a content management system that is external to your store. Add all the inspirational content to the content management systems and link users to the to the store when it’s time to buy. Try to land them at the product detail page and if you want to offer the ability to buy an outfit you may want to consider setting the outfit as a set so that the user can buy in one click.

How do I get started

Pick a category area and go!

  • Write some articles that are optimized for SEO
  • Invest in some photography and offer a rich gallery of photos
  • Consider featuring evangelists and relevant experts on the site

Offer engaging features that capture their contact info. Get the users engaged and find ways to offer interesting features (e.g. save this look to my favorites, share with friends) and capture their email address (instead of the ole’ sign up for our newsletter overlay).

What technologies are right for inspirational shopping? Content management systems are the tool of choice. Consider Drupal and/or Wordpress. Drupal will be a better fit if you really want to integrate it tightly into your online store. Wordpress is a less expensive way to start.

An alternate approach is to build a few content templates in your online store but we find that too often these platforms are too limiting and any changes to the site can impact you shopping path.

And of course if you have any questions drop me a line or comment and we can provide you with some answers and insights.