It’s an amazing privilege that I can “walk” into any store anywhere in the world — without having to buy anything when I leave. Even better, the feeling when I hand over my money after clicking the “Place Order” button.
It brings a whole new level to shopping, whether I came to the website from Instagram, Google or a Whatsapp link from a friend.
But, before I add a product to my cart while browsing an online store, I always wonder if they have a physical store I can visit before buying.
Going to a physical store is an adventure
I love the experience of going into a physical store — the artificial scents of fresh merchandise, unfamiliar perfumed scents in the air as other shoppers walk by, and frequent rings from the cashiers from time to time.
It always feels like a well-deserved break away from your WFH desk that’s always waiting for you at home, a place you already spend most of your time in.
You probably love the same things I do about shopping in person — you can experience the product you’re interested in in detail. It’s easy to visualize how it looks, feels, fits on you, and fits into your current lifestyle only from ten seconds of holding it in your hands. It makes it easy to justify your decision to buy or hold off on it.
Today, customers expect their online shopping experience to come as close to the physical one. Here’s what they want based on research by GWI.
Three-quarters of fashion shoppers want retailers to offer up more digitized solutions, with self check-out (32%), curbside pickup (26%), and mobile payment compatibility (22%) topping the list. Much of this is borne out of safety concerns or convenience, or a mixture of both.
Reducing friction in the online purchase process to create a similar experience
It’s tough, but it’s getting there. So what do I expect, like other shoppers do, from stores I like that don’t have a physical store I can visit? The most important one is getting as much information as I can get about the product I’m thinking of buying.
There are multiple ways your online store can come close:
- Close-up photos of the product
- Videos of the product in action
- A detailed but compelling description
- Reviews from other customers, if available
- Related items I can check out as alternatives or additions to my cart
- An FAQ page as a substitute to a store assistant
- Clear terms on deliveries & returns since I’ll only see the product once it lands on my doorstep
Here’s a great example of a store that does it well:
It’s okay if you don’t have a physical store.
Every business has its own reasons to focus on investing in growing online. All you need to do is create an immersive experience that comes as close as possible to the real thing.