Window shopping can be a disillusioning experience. A beautiful display can pull you in, only to lead to a shop with a bad selection and lousy customer service. Which makes it less fun to pop back onto the street to continue the search.
Online businesses have window displays too — or at least a good counterpart. If you’re doing business online, you may be surprised to know that your window display could be making promises that your store doesn’t deliver on.
Follow along with me and my daughter as we shop for new rain boots, and you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t when you’re creating an online “window display” to entice your customers to buy.
We were looking for the same things most people do when they shop: good selection, quality products, an enjoyable shopping experience, excellent customer service, and a price point we could afford.
Lots of window displays seemed to promise those things. Like that one over there. Are those the boots we’re looking for?
We ventured into the store.
Store 1: Anybody home?
As our eyes adjusted to the store, we noticed it was dark and a little hard to make out what they were selling. The place seemed abandoned, and no one came forward to help us. We had seen a pair of boots in the window, but now that we were inside, we weren’t sure they even carried boots.
They had shoes, but there was no order to how they were presented. They didn’t seem to be organized by men’s and women’s shoes. They weren’t displayed by size or style. They were just placed around the store randomly, and there was nobody around to help us find what we were looking for.
We backed away and kept looking.
Store 2: Accosted by a hustler
A few steps beyond the first store, we saw another window display. The window display was full of light, and the boots were organized by men’s and women’s styles. It was easy to see they had plenty of inventory.
We headed inside.
This store looked much better at first glance. But the loud music playing in the background was really hard to take. The store’s walls were painted with florescent colors. It was distracting, and hard to focus.
A salesperson approached. He strained to speak over the music, and loudly asked what we were looking for.
We said we were looking for rain boots, and he steered us over to a display of leather boots with 5” stiletto heels. He tried to convince me that these boots would hold up great in the rain, and besides that, my daughter’s legs would look longer.
I noticed the boots were $485.00, and wondered if that had something to do with his recommendation.
I pretended to need to make an urgent phone call, and we hustled out in a hurry.
Store 3: Our luck turns
At this point, we were a little frustrated. The first two stores we visited had made a promise with their window displays. We went inside expecting to find what caught our eyes in the window. Once inside, though, the shopping experience fell apart.
We were getting a little tired at this point, but we kept going, hoping to see another display that caught our attention. And this time, we finally got lucky.
The window display looked organized and appealing. The boots were grouped together, divided into men’s and women’s styles, and organized by color.
A spacious, soothing atmosphere greeted us when we walked inside. There was plenty of room to wander the aisles and look at products more closely. We scanned the merchandise and found the boots section right away.
As we moved to that part of the store, a salesperson appeared. He let us know that all their boots were marked down 50% this week, and that he could help us find what we were looking for. We started to feel lucky we picked this week to wander into this particular store looking for boots.
We found the style she liked, but they didn’t have them in red. My daughter had her heart set on red rain boots.
We asked the salesperson what we could do, and he had a great answer for us. They could special order the boots in her size, in red. They would deliver them at no charge, and she would have them the next day.
We happily handed over the credit card. Victory!
Which store is yours?
If you think this is a lesson in e-commerce sites like eToys or Zappo’s, think again.
Every site gives its readers an experience. And it’s up to you to make sure your site, particularly your homepage, delivers what they want.
When people arrive at your site’s homepage, which of these stores reflects their experience? Is it uninviting and disorganized? Is it bright, loud, and not terribly helpful?
Or does it make your offerings easy to skim, and enticing to sign up for or purchase? Do you have help systems like FAQ pages and contact forms to make it simple for your customer to get their questions answered?
Have you made it easy to find great content that gives them exactly what they’re looking for? Is everything on the page geared to making sure they find just what they want?
Do you track what your customer is looking for so that you can be sure you’re displaying what they’re in the market to purchase?
Your home page makes a promise, just like a window display does. If it’s set up right, customers will click to enter and find out more.
Once they’ve found you, will they buy your boots?
About the Author: Pamela Wilson helps small businesses grow with great design and marketing tips. Learn the basics with her free Design 101 e-course at Big Brand System.