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’.
Target sums up its major deals in modular typographic grids below the big image.
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.
2. Deliver the Christmas promise efficiently
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.
Latest ordering date on Eddie Bauer is given more prominence with a sense of urgency.
Click & Pickup
Products are available for pickup at nominated Target store for free. Pickup is encouraged on the website.
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
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.
The Iconic’s gift guide speaks to a younger audience. It is categorised by the roles of the recipients.
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.
Fashion retailers such as Net-a-Porter and Selfridges help customers find gifts by trends.
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.
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
Bandage solution for the last-minute shoppers
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.
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.
Tiffany celebrates Christmas with an animated short film.
Stella McCartney‘s Holiday Filling has its weird beauty.
Happy Socks lends itself to perfect colourful, festive imagery.
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+.
Header image: ©Hunter Boots.