Archive for March 27, 2014

Virtual Dressing Room: The Next Big Thing?

 

Are internet retailers competing with the brick and mortars by trying to provide the in store experience, namely trying on clothes, online?

 

It seems that some retailers are trying this. Known as “virtual fitting rooms” several retailers are adopting a virtual way for consumers to try on clothes from the comfort of home.

 

This article highlights some of the ways this is being integrated, from consumers entering their measurements to create a prototype to try outfits on, complete with alerts that clothes may not fit properly, to the most interesting one of all – the webcam fitting room:

 

webcam fitting room

From the company’s website:

The Life-Styler wardrobe stylist makes it easy for you to see which styles of fashion suit you.   All the clothes have been categorized by our body shapes – so whether you’re an Audrey ruler body shape, Isabella apple body shape, Sophia hourglass body shape, Eva pear body shape or Grace inverted triangle body shape – we have fashion outfits that will suit you.

  1. Select allow so that the webcam can connect to you
  2. Choose to watch the simple video which explains how the virtual wardrobe works
  3. Then choose clothing based on your body type
  4. Watch the chosen outfit come up on your screen and re-size to fit you!
  5. Share to social media and get your friends opinion

 

So, will this work and become the “next big thing” in e-commerce? While it seems very interesting, and something that might help e-commerce in increased sales, the jury is still out, for several reasons:

 

1. Webcam security: consumers may be a bit wary yet of having the webcam aspect of the experience, especially when the site reminds you that you have the allow the webcam to control your computer. While it is definitely cool, some of the images on the website showing the virtual fitting room look a bit like the colorform dolls I played with as a child – those paper/plastic dolls with the clothing options with tabs that you can “dress” the doll. It’s a good visual as a starting point though.

 

2. Time consuming: for those virtual sites that require a consumer to enter their measurements, this may not work. I have no idea what my measurements are, and might think it’s time consuming to try and figure that out. Others might not think so though, so this might be more effective, and less intrusive, than the webcam option.

 

3. Security/data concerns: consumers may wonder if their measurements are being collected in a CRM database, to be used for personalized promotions, or for other reasons. While this is more widely accepted in online shopping, there are still some consumers that may be concerned about the data they’re entering and what companies will use it for.

 

4. Accuracy and return rate: I recently tried a virtual site for glasses, as I know the time is coming for me to need them. I thought that uploading a picture of myself to try on various frames was a great idea….unfortunately, the site was clunky (or it could be user related, I’ll admit it) and I had great difficultly making the frames fit my picture. When it worked, the superimposed frames were cartoonish in nature, making it difficult for me to visualize myself wearing the frames. After some attempts, I grew increasingly frustrated and gave up.

 

Bottom line, online retailers are continually looking for ways to compete against the brick and mortars, or even try to complement their consumer experience by offering these virtual experiences in addition to their in person experiences. As with anything new, I fully expect that, if this trend continues, technology will be enhanced as time goes on, potentially making this a viable option for consumers.

 

 

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The Psychology Behind Online Purchases

 

Consumers have turned to e-commerce and online shopping for many reasons – convenience, shopping from home at any hour of the day, competitive prices, etc.

 

What stops consumers from making online purchases? The infographic below highlights some of the psychology behind e-commerce and purchase habits. Key takeaways include:

 

1. No attention span: if a site takes more than three seconds to load, they will abandon the site. 80% of those consumers will never return to the site. Three seconds? I know I’m not the most patient person, but that seems awfully short. It’s likely that they anticipate a slow shopping experience, if the home page is taking what they consider a long time to load.

 

2. Video enhances the experience: 31% of customers made purchases after watching a product related video on the company’s website, and 57% of respondents say they are less likely to return the items purchased after watching a video.

 

3. Pictures are great, but….: while pictures and images result in a 58% increase in purchases, 25% return the item because it wasn’t what they were expecting. Offering accurate pictures and multiple images, along with video where appropriate, may reduce this return rate based on this data.

 

4. Reviews are effective, to a point: while many consumers say they read and rely on information in consumer reviews, this study shows that 67% of respondents read six or less reviews before making a purchase decision. That begs the question of whether consumers read the first six reviews that are visible next to the product information, or if they look at the balance of positive and negative reviews, reading a few of each before making a decision. At any rate, it’s a good idea to monitor the reviews and be aware of what consumers are saying about your products, especially on your website.

 

As a consumer, I tend to first look at whether the mix of reviews is more negative or positive, and then I read a sampling of both. I know there are some people who are just generally unsatisfied all the time, and you can see through those reviews and take them with a grain of salt. If I see a trend with a particular problem or complaint about a product though, I tend to form my opinion on that coupled with the positive reviews, trying to determine what’s important to me as far as making that purchase. This way, I feel like I know what I’m getting into. This may not hold true for every customer though, so monitoring what is said about your products is paramount.

 

The infographic sheds some interesting light on the psychology behind making online purchases. What has your experience been? As a consumer, do you fall in line with the results, or do you see things differently? Please feel free to join in the conversation in the comments section below.

 

psychology ecommerce

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Attract Hummingbirds and Enhance Customer Service

 

As far as websites and SEO goes, there is only one real “hummingbird” to try to attract, and that’s Google’s Hummingbird, otherwise known as its newest algorithm released last year.

 

I came across an article that discussed how to use Pinterest to as a means of making customer service more efficient and cut costs, but found that many of the suggestions related very well to company websites and how to make them more searchable, especially in light of Google’s Hummingbird update some months ago.

 

How does this relate to Google’s Hummingbird? The except from Search Engine Land’s article on this new update explains it nicely:

 

What type of “new” search activity does Hummingbird help?

Conversational search” is one of the biggest examples Google gave. People, when speaking searches, may find it more useful to have a conversation.

“What’s the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s to my home?” A traditional search engine might focus on finding matches for words — finding a page that says “buy” and “iPhone 5s,” for example.

Hummingbird should better focus on the meaning behind the words. It may better understand the actual location of your home, if you’ve shared that with Google. It might understand that “place” means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that “iPhone 5s” is a particular type of electronic device carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words.

In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

 

So, what simple changes can you make to make your customer service more streamlined while enhancing your online search visibility?

 

1. Have a FAQ page: many companies are seeing the value in this, but others have not yet created a page for frequently asked questions. If you don’t have one in place, it may be time to create one. Not only will it do good for SEO purposes, as you can have keyword rich questions, page headers, and tags, but it will also give your customers a place to go to find answers to what are likely fairly common questions. Take it one step further by having a clearly identifiable link to contact customer service if additional help is needed, along with links to your company’s social media sites.

 

2. Incorporate a variety of media: Google loves images and video, and rich media. So do your customers. If there is a way to incorporate videos, such as how to guides for using (or choosing) products, or anything along those lines, it’d be a great idea to incorporate that into your website. It gives customers yet another way to engage with your products & services in the comfort of their home, and with the way this type of media is easily shared online, it’s great for SEO purposes.
Be sure to link videos to Vimeo and/or You Tube, post them on your social media sites to let customers know they exist on your website, and ensure that all rich media on your website has links/buttons that make it easy to share with others.

 

3. Make good even better: this isn’t from the article, but does fall in line with the thinking of Pinterest and other social media sites, as well as the Hummingbird updates from Google.  Experts suggest using website analytics to find out which of your pages are most visited by others. Once you’ve figured that out, make them better – incorporate rich media to communicate the same message, or make it more interactive in nature.

 

One example I learned about while at a conference involved a legal firm that wanted to increase its visibility in the search engines. One of their most popular pages was the legal team’s individual biographies. To enhance the page, they swapped out the written biographies of each lawyer and replaced it with a short video clip featuring each lawyer. Over time, this helped the page improve its search visibility.

 

With competition increasing and companies trying to stay at the forefront of customers’ minds, it’s important to all that you can to make the most of your online strategies. Some of these simple changes can make an impact on your online visibility when customers need your products or services.

 

 

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