Selling emotion: What retail can teach e-tail
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from Retail Dive, an e-newsletter and website providing a 60-second bird’s eye view of the latest retail news and trends.
E-tailers may be blithely unaware of some of the subtle advantages that brick-and-mortar retailers enjoy. It’s related to "touch and feel," but also has to do with emotional reactions humans have in physical stores, says web psychologist Liraz Margalit of digital customer experience solutions startup Clicktale.
The good news, claims Ms. Margalit, is e-retailers can also "second that emotion."
"The online store needs to provide us with the same kind of experience, to create these feelings we have in physical stores," Ms. Margalit told Retail Dive. "When you go to buy something, it’s not always a rational decision. It’s an emotional one. But sitting at our screens is a more ‘rational’ environment than being in a store."
Physical stores almost automatically tap into consumers’ emotional side. Seeing the color of a dress, feeling the fabric’s texture, seeing it swing when you twirl around in it — all of those sensual experiences tap the emotional side.
Retailers, like Anthroplogie, that show short videos or multiple views of a dress online can tap into the same part of the brain. Hand-lettered fonts, beach sand and sunset-saturated photos and whimsical blog posts are all effective ways Anthropologie and sister brand Free People mesh with customer sensibilities.
Ms. Margalit advises clients to use content just this way, to engage customers and create a fantasy for those who are passing through without necessarily knowing what they want.
Another example is Vans, which took the time to connect with several locally known skateboarders nationwide, then profiled them, magazine-style, online with eye-catching photos and copy.
Retailers may want to consider designing their online sections for men and women with similar differences. In physical stores, men’s sections are clear and straightforward while women’s are more about discovery.
Fonts, colors, photography and content should also match a retailer’s vibe, and that of their customers. Colors like pink evoke — for better or worse — notions of feminine things. A retailer catering to a punk crowd can post more alarming images, colors and language.
Finally, mass customization is another way to appeal to shoppers’ emotions by getting them to think about the look and feel of a jacket, a shoe, or a shirt, and the meaning that item will have.
One challenge is creating a pleasurable experience for the browsing customer that must work within a strict easy-to-navigate experience for the more goal-oriented online shopper. Advised Ms. Margalit, "Keep your visitors free of difficulties, then they can be free to enjoy your website. Within certain boundaries, we can be creative."
What tips would you have for bringing emotion to the online buying experience? What would you add to the suggestions in the article?