Managing: Online Customers
What Do E-Consumers Want?
This consumers search for jewelry online can teach bricks-and-mortar retailers what e-consumers really want from a jewelers Web site
Ive got a problem. Im an Internet-age consumer I expect instant gratification. I expect the e-tailers I choose to know what I want before I want it and to give it to me quickly, without hassles. I also want them to give me the warm fuzzies. In short, I want exactly what every online consumer has come to expect from Internet businesses. I want it all.
I live and work on the Internet. Im starting to feel like a virtual person. I have to remind myself to get out once in a while just to make sure Im not losing my social skills. I actually forgot the sound of my mothers voice when she called last week. Its me! she said. My pause, a bit longer than acceptable, prompted her to say, Look at your buddy list. Im under Family! Though we communicate online just about every night, I couldnt identify her voice.
Im an Internet junkie, and Im not the only one. There are millions of us. Millions who would rather do business with you over the Net than drive to your store and fight for parking.
When I click on a Web site to shop, I think and act like this:
I need to get a gift for my Mom (I have to make up for what she now calls the big pause). I type in your URL. If I have to wait longer than five seconds, Ill lose interest. You may think thats unreasonable. I dont.
Im now looking at the jewelry you offer on your site. If the pictures are fuzzy, Im out of there. I dont care if its my system at fault. I not going to buy something I cant see.
If the pictures are fine, then I want to search your site by the type of item I want. I dont know I want a 14k ring with a blue topaz in a bezel setting. I know I want a ring for a mother who just blocked me from sending her instant messages; if I dont get a gift, Im going to be up for adoption at the tender age of 36. Will your search engine help me find what I want? In case youve never thought of it, your search engine is your salesperson standing at the counter saying May I help you find that perfect gift today?
OK, Im going to give you a clue. Ill click on rings. Big help, right? You bet. You now have a customer; I told you I want a ring. What are you going to do about it? How would your in-store representative handle it? Your search engine needs to act the same way. Heres the train of thought:
Me: I want a ring.
Your Site: Gold or silver?
Your Site: Stones?
Your Site: Here are the stones we have in rings. What appeals to you?
Me: I like blue ones.
Your Site: Tanzanite?
Me: Whats a tanzanite?
Oops. Your site just made me feel like a dimwit. Not everyone knows what a tanzanite is. If your search engine offers tanzanite, it also has to tell me what tanzanite is. In short, it always has to do what a good salesperson does.
Ive seen a few things I like. I want you to group them together, then I want to be able to click once and get all the details about a piece. Oh, and I want a back button at every possible turn. Why? Because Im the consumer. When Im in the store, I can go back to the previous piece by moving my eyes. Dont make me work when Im shopping online.
Ive decided what I want to buy. Be very careful. Im still one click away from saying This is taking too long. Im going for coffee. Whatll keep me from doing that? Offer me something: a discount, free shipping, a sweepstakes entry, 10% off if I open a charge, a membership to your exclusive buying club, entitling me to a percentage off every order. The tricks are old and the potential is limitless.
Im checking out and want to know the charge information Im about to send is secure. Tell me why youre safe to do business with, but do it in 20 words or less. Dont send me elsewhere in the site. I need it now.
The Big Wait
Im checked out. My ring is on its way, but dont leave me out in the cold. Send me e-mails saying my order is shipped. Offer me tracking information. Give me an e-mail contact and a phone number to call with questions. Let me know you love me still. I want more commitment from you than I did from my last husband. If you fail, I wont be back. If you succeed, youll have what every retailer/e-tailer wants: a loyal customer.
After delivery, I want an e-mail telling me when, where and to whom it was delivered. Even though I have the ring in hand, I want this because it shows me you care about service. If I trust you, I wont look elsewhere next time I need jewelry.
There I am in a nutshell. The Internet consumer. Im difficult and demanding. Im no different from the customer in your store except for one thing we have a virtual relationship. I have never shaken hands with you but I trust you now. Im officially your customer.
By the way, Mom says thank you too. Im on her instant messenger list again.
by Susan A. Hargraves, Executive Administrator/Electronic Commerce, Michael Anthony Jewelers, Mount Vernon, NY