How Good UX Can Overcome the Need for Customers to be Physically Present
There are many products like furniture, jewellery, clothes, paints and glasses that we think must be displayed in brick-and-mortar stores as they need people to see, touch and feel them before buying. However, it is now possible to design digital experiences to help such products sell successfully online and with some creativity, make the online market the highest point of sale.
Understanding Why Customers Visit Brick-And-Mortar Stores
When a person wants to buy a piece of furniture like a chair, it’s not easy to understand how solid or how comfortable it is just by looking at pictures. To buy glasses, people walk into stores to understand how to light a pair of frames are and how it would look on them. When someone requires wall paints, seeing them in person is very different from on the computer, especially since colours on mobile or laptop screens look different even between devices.
Solving Common Problems
Solutions that the digital medium already allows can be categorized into those that mimic, extend and go beyond the real-world experience.
To understand the sizes of products on digital platforms, Urban Ladder uses silhouettes; Aza uses models wearing the clothes; BlueStone shows scale with standardised images of people wearing rings or bangles; whereas Lenskart has instructions for measurements using the ten-rupee note.
For build and quality, detailed shots of the items with comparisons to familiar household items can be used. Videos of a person knocking on the wood of the chair may establish how solid it is.
To know how something would look on customers, several models could be used, each representing a different user type. For example, glasses could be worn by men and women, divided into various face types. To help customers choose to paint, one could have a colour wheel, then show them the chosen colour in a typical room setting at different times of day and then have them upload a photograph of their own wall and apply that colour on it.
To provide an assurance of quality of manufactured products, a set of customer testimonials gathered over time work well, with the ratings organised in reverse chronological order as the quality when launched is typically poorer than when the product matures. For services, the quality is likely to change over time so one could show how the quality is today, displaying the last ten ratings.
There is also a need to understand if a type of person is driven by popularity or exclusivity. If popularity is important, one may need to show how many people have purchased it, whereas exclusivity seekers will be encouraged by not seeing large numbers of past purchases.
It is also important for users to be told how easily customer service can be availed in case something goes wrong with the product.
Is Every Problem Necessary To Solve?
Since most companies have limited budgets and/or time, it becomes imperative to assess whether a problem is important enough to solve and if the cost of the solution outweighs the benefits. For example, does the colour of the paint matter more than its durability? Does the shirt really need to be worn on models with seven different body types? This helps create a priority list based on which one can begin tackling the most important problems first.
It Should Be Policy
The one thing that really matters to customers is their ability to return or exchange a product they don’t like. The simpler this part is made, the easier the purchasing decision becomes. So a company must find a way to not only make this a policy but to also design and engineer it as well as the purchasing process.
Understanding The Limitations Of A Store
While a physical store offers customers many benefits, there are numerous advantages to the digital store.
It is possible that a digital store may never run out of inventory, whereas a physical one will.
It is not possible to stock and display as many products in a physical store as it is to on a digital one.
A digital store can show as many variants of a product as necessary, whereas in a physical one, that is challenging.
The cost of operating a digital store is a fraction of that of a physical one as it comes without the same kinds of overheads.
The reach of a digital store is far greater than that of a physical one that can essentially serve customers only within a certain driving distance.
Keeping this in mind, one may want to consider a universal commerce approach so all the needs of a customer can be served in the best way possible.