Designing cross channel experiences -for ecommerce and multi-channel retailers


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Designing cross channel experiences -for ecommerce and multi-channel retailers

  1. 1. Designing Cross-channel Experiences: For Ecommerceand Multi-channel Retailers Shopping is inherently a social experience. Meeting up with friends in a mall, sipping coffee and window-shopping together, browsing through the wares in a busy shopping district, stumbling across cool, unexpected treasures— these are the moments that make “going out shopping” in the real world so much fun.However, the traditional ecommerce experience rarely contains these interesting, sensorial experiencesof offline retail. How do you design a successful cross-experience for online and multi-channel retailers?A typical ecommerce experience entails searching Google or Amazon for the product you want, thengoing through various sites to find the cheapest deal. Savvy offline retailers provide a selection of theirgoods (sometimes complete catalogs) on their own websites but the online experience does not feel asenjoyable as the real-world experience of shopping in those same retailers’ stores. Customers have toscroll through pages and pages of poorly organized items, work through vague product descriptions,photos that don’t give a clear idea whether those items would fit their size, style and taste and poorlydesigned check-out processes.When customers are forced to sacrifice the fun, social and pleasurable aspects of offline shopping, theycome to expect less and less from ecommerce experiences and develop a price-oriented and deal-hungry approach to online shopping. Retailers can capture a lot of value and customer loyalty by© Rupa
  2. 2. designing experiences that transfer the social aspects of real-world shopping to the online world. Hereare some ways in which pure-play online retailers as well as cross channel retailers can create "wow" inthe ecommerce shopping experience:Enabling Discovery & Exclamations!Traditional retail therapy encourages the process of discovery like no other. People find products thatget them excited, provoke reactions and conversations with friends. In an typical offline retailenvironment, shoppers browse through products, hold them up against themselves, ask their shoppingcompanions for feedback or advice, receive “thumbs-ups”, “go-aheads”, “green-signals”, “go-for-its”,critique each other’s choices and occasionally engage in heated discussions about the merits of oneproduct over another.Retailers have tried to bring in some aspects of discovery and sharing into online ecommerceexperiences through Facebook likes, “Want” buttons, “Wishlists” however, the key is to enable peopleto emote the same way they do during the physical shopping experience with features that encourage“sharing” and “receiving” reactions, recommendations and reviews with others quickly and easily. Otherfeatures that encourage discovery and sharing are built-in chat applications that allow shoppers to invitetheir favorite shopping buddies from their networks to view, rate, comment their finds as they shop.This brings ecommerce, currently a very isolated activity, closer to offline retail which is more social,conversational and fun.The fine art of behavioral targeting has been mastered by the online ad industry long ago. Theyunderstand what people do online to infer what their interests are and use this data to serve them morerelevant ads. Similarly, ecommerce retailers can identify the right products based on people’s interestsand give those products a prominent place in the shopping experience to boost discovery and sales.Showcase What’s HotShoppers don’t like to plough through tons of products to identify the best, top-selling, most trendy etc.In a typical store scenario, shoppers can see the “hottest selling” products up-front to drive impulsepurchases. E-commerce retailers can keep a pulse on “top trends” and “most talked about brands incustomers "social universe” and similarly feature these “hot” items more prominently on the site,© Rupa
  3. 3. driving impulse purchases and giving products a wide exposure to new potential customers and evencasual site visitors.Customers also enjoy items that are “selected”, “suggested”, “put together” for them. In internetparlance, this is known as “curation”. Ecommerce sites can drive greater purchases if they canprominently feature products that are curated for shoppers by other shoppers in “saved”, “recentlyadded”, “people who viewed this product also viewed” type of features. This lets users know what’s hotamong other shoppers of the same site.For example, people are likelier to purchase something if their friends weigh in. With this in mind, EBay’snew browser plug-in, Help Me Shop, lets users shop anywhere on the web and drag items into aseparate window. Through Facebook, the user invites friends to give advice on the items they like best.© Rupa
  4. 4. Another site, Fashiolista focuses exclusively on fashion discovery and inspiration allowing site membersto share their favorite finds with others in the community and friends from their social networks, getstyle advice and tips from friends and follow people whose style inspires them.Simplify Or Abandon The Shopping Cart FunctionalityEcommerce retailers have tried to mirror the offline shopping experience of pushing (and occasionallydragging) a cart around and filling it up with products. However most shopping cart functionalities areclunky and not standardized or consistent from one retailer to another, frustrating customers as they try© Rupa
  5. 5. to figure out how to use different types of shopping carts. In most cases, customers fill up cart and easilyabandon it in its entirety if there’s a slight change of mind, mood or another interruption.According to Forrester Research, the biggest factor scaring customers away is high shipping costs. If youcan’t afford to offer free or discount shipping, the article recommends making sure “the cost is clearlyvisible early and often to avoid surprises.” In addition, since shopping both online and offline is a socialexperience, product discovery and spontaneity are important aspects of the experience. Enableshoppers to immediately buy with one-click rather than fill up a cart only to abandon it later. Eliminatethis kind of a friction in the design of the online shopping experience. A great example is the iTunes andAmazon stores which have demonstrated the benefit of a 1-click approach.Marry Mobility With The Online Shopping ExperienceMost people spend time accessing Facebook on their mobile phones. Twitter users also spend six timesmore time using Twitter mobile than This has major implications for the shoppingexperience. The same experience offered online has to be customized and made relevant for mobile© Rupa
  6. 6. consumption. With mobile, people prefer snippets of browsing. Mobile behavior does not involve longperiods of browsing time. Ensure that mobile experiences are small-sized/bite-sized to makespontaneous discovery and impulse purchases possible. For example, theThreadless.com mobile site is full of rich imagery and highlights only themost important features that are important to customers such as community, galleries, search andcheckout.Another example is Groupon which uses the power of mobility to allow customers to get deals andoffers when they are on the road, near a store.© Rupa
  7. 7. Ecommerce retailers can leverage social data to customize and personalize shopping experiences. It’simportant to note that this interest or taste-based clustering and targeting reaches beyond the socialgraph and can be much more effective at driving sales. It also makes the shopping experience less of achore and more fun, since only the products and brands that customers really like are presented tothem.© Rupa
  8. 8. About CXP DesignCXP Design (, founded by Rupa Shankar, is a platform for marketers,technologists, designers and leaders to discuss and gain a deeper understanding of cross-channelcustomer experience design, develop empathy for customer needs and learn how to createproducts and services that deliver "wow" experiences for customers.When we check into a hotel. When we shop on-line. When we buy a pair of shoes. When we get ona flight. These are experiences by which we measure brands every day. However, most companiesare without the tools to purposefully design those experiences for maximum value. That’s whereCXP Design comes in.Day in, day out, we live, sleep, eat, breathe and unravel the riddle that is human experience, leadingto more loyal and committed customers for our is an Associate Director at Happiest Minds Technologies (, a next-generation IT Services & Solutions company at the forefront of Providing Advisory, Implementation andManaged Services on Social computing, Mobility, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud computing,Security and Unified Communications. At Happiest Minds, Rupa is responsible for uncovering andactivating innovative digital and social engagement strategies for its clients, spearheading thedevelopment of frameworks and solutions for different industry verticals and enhancing the global go-to-market strategy. She taps into her past work as both a design practitioner and marketer to help HappiestMinds clients envision and define broad, end-to-end customer experiences.© Rupa