Hunter-website

How do websites help customers shop during work hours in pre-Christmas 2014

Time is never enough in December. While workload suddenly doubles as most people try to finish everything before holiday, plus all the Christmas parties, we still have to squeeze time to write down the shopping lists and get everyone we love including our cats and dogs and birds the perfect gift. We do this year after year till we find ourselves stuck in a shopping crowd and start questioning, ‘Gee, why don’t I just get the gifts from Amazon?’

Online shopping at work becomes handy to many people as it solves the collective fundamental problem – the time scarcity. According to The Telegraph, LondonOffices.com found that a poll of 600 professionals spends, on average, half an hour a day looking for and buying Christmas presents during work hours in the run-up to Christmas this year. One-in-10 professionals took extra long toilet breaks so they could shop on their phones.

Sneaky. Either browsing or purchasing, one has to use his/her time smartly, process information quickly while keeping an eye on the bosses’ activities. Therefore the ability to cater to the at-work shoppers, which could possibly take up a major segment of the target audience at certain times, is critical to shopping sites. The first thing came to mind is that all shopping sites should have a sensor that alerts user when the bosses are approaching – food for thought, Amazon? Other than that, website speed, good contents, clarity and minimal paths to both contents and checkout are essential for these customers. Oh and we are not talking about mobile responsiveness here – it is for the dirty hands that wipe their asses and hold their phones again. Yuk!

Now let’s look at how some websites attract and help at-work shoppers succeed in their gift-giving planning and purchasing.

1. Start the sale frenzy in big types; then detail deals in eye-catching colours

The Christmas sale with free shipping makes online stores competitive with in-store sale. Most sites open their homepages with big types and celebratory imagery, shouting to the users about the deals. For example, American Eagle Outfitter uses strong, stylised graphics to ‘bring on the holiday jollies’.

Image ©American Eagle Outfitter

Image ©American Eagle Outfitter

Target sums up its major deals in modular typographic grids below the big image.

Image ©Target

Image ©Target

When all the products are marked with discounted prices in red on Net-a-Porter, even myself who doesn’t shop much wants to scoop a deal.

Image ©Net-a-Porter

Image ©Net-a-Porter

2. Deliver the Christmas promise efficiently

Shipping

Bellroy informs users about the latest ordering date in a pop-up window. The disruptive message catches attention, but could also be dismissed or blocked. This ordering date doesn’t seem to be addressed prominently on the web pages.

Image ©Bellroy

Image ©Bellroy

Latest ordering date on Eddie Bauer is given more prominence with a sense of urgency.

Image ©Eddie Bauer

Image ©Eddie Bauer

Click & Pickup

Products are available for pickup at nominated Target store for free. Pickup is encouraged on the website.

Image ©Target

Image ©Target

The Iconic is perhaps the most efficient site in delivery through its:
– free same evening delivery up to Christmas Eve;
– three-hour delivery in Sydney and Melbourne for $9.95 and
– pickup ParcelPoint

Image ©The Iconic

Image ©The Iconic

3. Filter out unnecessary contents – create gift guide

For a broad audience, eBay simply directs its users to three main categories – men, women and kids, followed by product pages with vertical mega menu on the side.

Image ©eBay

Image ©eBay

The Iconic’s gift guide speaks to a younger audience. It is categorised by the roles of the recipients.

Image ©The Iconic

Image ©The Iconic

J.Crew‘s homepage is largely dominated by the flow that directs users to the seven-category gift guide. Products are sorted by colours. Videoed products add a nice touch to the browsing experience.

J-crew-1

J-crew-6

Images ©J.Crew

Images ©J.Crew

Fashion retailers such as Net-a-Porter and Selfridges help customers find gifts by trends.

Image ©Selfridges

Image ©Selfridges

The most personalised gift-assisting experience is at Sorry Thanks I Love You. Through four questions, it helps users tailor the gift selection based on interests and relationships with recipients. It is a nice-to-have feature as the algorithm is not essentially helpful. Given the small range of products, the results (from different answers) are quite similar to each other. The four questions are fun to answer, but certainly not for the busy at-work customers, not to mention the dirty hands in the toilet as its website is not fully optimised for mobiles.

sorrythanksiloveyou-4

sorrythanksiloveyou-1

sorrythanksiloveyou-2

Images ©Sorry Thanks I Love You

Images ©Sorry Thanks I Love You

Food for thought: aggregated Christmas wishes app?

Given the trouble of spending time getting the gifts that might be ended up in others’ bins, an aggregated Christmas wishes app could possibly solve the problem and make the gift-giving experience more satisfying for both the givers and the receivers.

How it works: a social network similar to Facebook but purely focuses on Christmas wishes. Users share their Christmas wish lists within their networks. Say if A decides to give B a gift, A can simply reserve a gift from B’s wish list and get it for B. The reservation will be anonymous and visible to B’s network to avoid double giving.

Mission: Create some Christmas blissfulness like the 2013 WestJet real-time giving Christmas Miracle.

5. Give the perfect gift on a giftcard

Luxury giftcards

Image ©Net-a-Porter

Image ©Net-a-Porter

Bandage solution for the last-minute shoppers

Image ©eBay

Image ©eBay

6. Retain products in shopping carts and check out easily

Shopping carts that retain products are important for at-work shoppers, who are more likely to shut down the browsers than leisurely shoppers. Product images and basic information shown in minicarts give the users a quick glance of their shopping carts; Shopping carts should be easily editable.

For at-work shoppers, paths to checkout should be as minimal as possible. ‘Checkout as a guest’ option would be appreciated by users who are unregistered or can’t remember login details. Websites such as The Iconic also address that users can check out as a guest and create an account later, shows empathy to the users.

the-iconic-4

Image ©The Iconic

Image ©The Iconic

7. A little more to give … visualise a unique Christmas

Although promotions and functionality are the focus, some brands have created interesting imagery to celebrate Christmas, adding a little more delight to the shopping experience.

Cartier‘s Winter Tale has the most luscious imagery this Christmas.

Image ©Cartier

Image ©Cartier

Tiffany celebrates Christmas with an animated short film.

Image ©Tiffany

Image ©Tiffany

Stella McCartney‘s Holiday Filling has its weird beauty.

Image ©Stella McCartney

Image ©Stella McCartney

Happy Socks lends itself to perfect colourful, festive imagery.

Image ©Happy Socks

Image ©Happy Socks

Now over to you …

How can websites improve for customers who shop during work hours in the Christmas shopping season? Let’s continue the discussion on Google+.

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Header image: ©Hunter Boots.

Author – Danling Xiao

author

Creating user-centred brand experience is my passion. View my design portfolio >

Mundane Matters

Mundane Matters curates impromptu food art I make everyday. See the growing collection on Instagram.


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