Stuart Mayhew is one of our most talented designers. He put together a website to display a collage of his past work and compelling thoughts about User Experience and Design. Stuart implements a unique and systematic design process that focuses closely on human psychology and behavior. The article below is about the shopping experience of online and store front retail.
Here's what he has to say, "User experience design places the user firmly at the center of focus for making better software. As such I have read many books and articles that talk about us as humans and how our minds process things, I decided that by writing my own interpretations on what I understand that I can gain a better grasp on how these discoveries in psychology can help me to consider how to solve human centered design issues."
Shopping online, is a convenient way to browse and find items, unlimited choices and tools to help us find what we may be looking for. The biggest difference with a physical store is the lack of physical connection for the consumer with the brand and product. This disconnection can make many items seem virtually indistinguishable, only leading to even more problems with decision making. So what features do websites add to begin helping in these issues. One thing websites increasingly do is show what other people thought of a product or service.
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People look for social validation and what others are buying, they also buy strongly on recommendations and reviews, this is not only true online but in many situations of product validation. The more people can see others experiences of having gone through the same decision making process and with a happy and successful outcome the more likely they are to feel content with making their purchase. Classic role models for this type of interaction are sites like Amazon , with heavy emphasis on customer reviews and recommendations. Ratings and hearing what people think allow us to empathize with someone and imagine ourselves in the same situation. Focusing on these aspects of the shopping experience online can lead to better metrics, more customer loyalty, greater brand differentiation, higher conversion rates and more customer satisfaction. Online shopping of course does not completely replace the physical shopping experience, people still like to go out shopping and handle merchandise, and see things working. So how do stores differ from the online experiences, and in what ways are they similar?
Buying at the store
Most modern consumers are now seeing that the online experience is an extension of the store experience and many modern retailers use their websites as extension of their presence, knowing full well that it is one of many ways the consumer is shopping with them. Once, browsing at home and research is done online, people may venture to the physical store to see the product on the shelves and working. So how can the store continue the experience, and what influences can they exert on the consumer?
Let's go see what they want us to buy.
When arriving at a physical store, often people haven't predetermined their shopping goals and only have vague ideas of what they might be there to buy, as such, this is when they can be strongly influenced towards other products and purchase decisions not in their original goals. Even if research has been made online and clear goal is set, it would not be uncommon to find that internal influences can occur, to sway the decision. So from the moment they enter the store they can be influenced. Whilst browsing the shelves and aisles is when many of the choices and decisions are actually made in the mind of the consumer. As the shopping experience progresses the consumers goals become more concrete and as such their goals can be influenced very early in the process. Presenting coupons early in the shopping experience can shift spending limits they may have set themselves, by setting a minimum purchase requirement.
There are two stages to the decision making process. The first is selecting an assortment of items, then secondly picking from that group a particular option. Large retailers, often have no trouble getting customers inside with the vast variety of choices, offering maximum flexibility and make the number of assortments very appealing, but then cannot always make the sale to the customer because of the issues surrounding the paralysis of having too many items to choose from. Smaller stores take advantage of this paradox, by keeping inventory simple and concise, however often have trouble attracting initial interest to customers by not having everything at one location. It can be suggested that maybe there is an optimal size of store to quantity of goods that a retailer could aim for, to gain maximum turnover.
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