Understanding what women want when shopping Online is critical because women out shop men across most major consumer categories online, just as they do in traditional retail stores.
It’s women who are driving the growth of retail innovation like local – and group – buying sites, sales sites, and digital coupons. When you consider that the e-commerce market in the United States alone generated more than $302 billion in sales during 2011, there are literally billions of reasons to make women happy online.
Women’s behavior online tends to mimic their off-line behavior. They window – shop, chat with friends, hunt for deals, ask like – minded people their opinions, and look for a pleasant, convenient, and even inspiring shopping experience. They do a tremendous amount of product research online, which wasn’t as possible back in the days before the Internet, when they had to rip out pages from magazines and stick them in a drawer or file folder.
Women view online shopping as an important tool in their multitasking arsenals, and women at every age, and life stage, is drawn to its convenience.
There are some important considerations when it comes to appealing to women online. Even today, buying products on the Internet is viewed as riskier than buying them in a store. People still worry about the confidentiality of their credit card information, and this is especially true for women. If you’re a small business that’s not wildly known, making your financial privacy policies known is crucial.
Studies show that the number one complaint of people shopping online is that the item they received didn’t look like it did Online. To women, that means they have to return it, and that’s an inconvenience, no matter how liberal the return policy. This is where a good zoom feature becomes critical on your website. If a retailer is showcasing a purse, for example, it should be view-able from every angle, including the inside, so that women can see what the lining looks like and whether or not the product has interior pockets.
Women need this level of detail to feel confident in buying something they can’t inspect for themselves.
The second biggest online shopping complaint is not been able to talk to a live person about purchasing questions or concerns. Post your 800-number prominently on the homepage and throughout your website.
Principles of female – friendly e-commerce sites
Broadly speaking, women like to feel smart about purchases they made online, they like to feel good about the companies they’ve brought from, and they like to feel proud that they’re such savvy shoppers.
- Women like being involved in clubs and membership programs that let them hear about new products and discounts before anyone else
Who doesn’t like to be part of the in-crowd? Exclusive access to time – sensitive offers is the appeal to most women shoppers.
- Women like website that recommend matching products when they have selected an item
This is an incredibly powerful way to up sell, for every single category out there. (Would you like a scarf with that coat?) Offering recommendations simply mimics what great salespeople do it brick and mortar stores: they suggest items they think you would like, based on knowledge of your past preferences. Amazon is the king of recommendations. Women think holistically and like to kill several birds with one stone, so they’ll appreciate being able to look at recommendations that will save them time and make their shopping experience more productive. It’s a smart modern way to deliver old – fashioned service.
- Women like to know what other people are buying
In any category, women are interested in knowing what the hot or popular items are. Increasingly, retailers are leveraging Facebook, to showcase items to customers that their friends have “Liked.”
- Buying gifts online has been the greatest godsend for women since the invention of the wheel
Women like to shop for gifts online because the stakes are so much lower than buying products for themselves – you never have to try on a gift – and the shipping is a beautiful thing. Your website should help women in their gift – giving quest by flagging age – appropriate, gender – appropriate gifts in clear language (if she doesn’t have kids, how does she know what an eight – your old boy might want?) And, of course, offering low – cost or free gift wrapping.
- People like a “clean” web environment
The study of female design preferences is a new one and deserves to be taken seriously. New research from the U.K. indicates that women are drawn to bright colors, rounded lines, 2-D representation of objects, and patterned or detailed surfaces. Too much clutter online, for example, can make women shut down. A good keyword search engine for your website is critical. Women notice everything, and when there’s too much to notice, they can get information overload and abandoned ship altogether, especially when they’re not tech savvy.
- A websites return policy can make or break a deal
Most women barely have enough time to buy a product, let alone return it. The website with the most generous return policies, are often the most successful.
- Over communicate after the sale
Give her an order confirmation number as soon as she’s paid; send the confirmation immediately to her e-mail address; let her know when the products has shipped; ask her how her experience was after she’s received it. These are all steps that will make women feel more comfortable about sending you their precious financial information online again.
- Close more sales by featuring time sensitive offers
Women do a lot of browsing online. Most people need a sense of urgency to buy something, especially if it’s something they don’t actually need. Flash – sale sites leverage this concept on a daily basis, often complete with countdown clocks. To study how to generate excitement through time sensitive offers, study sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Vente-Privee.
- Include a “share” system
Women on the world’s biggest drivers of word – of mouth publicity, and as you know by now, they are always thinking about the needs of other people in their lives. Enabling women to “Share” their item or e-mail the link to friends about what they’ve just purchased or what you’re offering on sale, it’s just the ticket to get the word spreading. Something as short and simple as ‘Hey, look at this- it’s kind of neat!” is all that you need.