With its ultra-convenience and mass appeal, E-Commerce has changed the retail landscape for the better. But that doesn’t mean that E-retailers should stop seeking new and exciting ways to improve their services. For as great as online shopping can be, there’s also something special about the experience of walking into a bookstore, ruffling through a used book and taking in the scent of a dusty page.
The internet is a bastion of customer convenience, but if retailers want to create a profound and memorable customer experience, they need to work harder than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
In Icreon’s partnership with bath and body product retailer Sabon, it wasn’t enough to develop a by-the-numbers E-Commerce site—if it was ever going to do the physical products justice, the site would need to feel like a bona fide luxury experience. Here are five ways we helped breathe boutique life into Sabon’s online experience.
Design Your Site as a Living Space
When you’re a boutique bath and body product retailer like Sabon, you pride your business on customer experience. Upon visiting their site, you’ll see this pride translated into an online format. White space draws attention to the products, channeling the peaceful comfort of the physical store. At the same time, visitors to the site always have a grasp on exactly what they’re looking at. There’s no way to get lost, because the entire store is always just a click away.
Whenever a customer leaves the physical store, they’re still thinking about how revitalized the products have made them feel. When customers leave Sabon’s site, the goal is for them to remember how refreshing their experience felt.
Make your product the main attraction
When you sell soaps and lotions and oils, you have to appeal to your customers’ senses. In a physical space, this is easy. You let them smell the soap, you let them try out the lotion. But on the web, you have to compensate by capturing different senses.
Let your users zoom in on a product so they feel like they’re interacting with it. Write captivating flavor text. You can’t show off your product directly, but there’s no reason to deny customers the next best thing.
Don’t slouch on customer service
The internet has a reputation for degrading customer service, and retailers have to go to great lengths to adjust. Wherever an employee would interact with a customer in a physical store, you have to make sure your e-commerce site is stepping in to fill that void.
Sabon’s homepage guides users by telling them what’s popular, what’s on sale, and where to find everything in the store. Sabon knows that their customers want products that are compatible with their complexion, so they categorize products by “Skin Type.” Think about what your customers are looking for when they go into your shop, and address those problems directly in your web design.
Use promotions to make up for lost ground
We already know that the online experience can’t match the in-store experience, but the true challenge for the E-Commerce site is to go the extra mile to try and close that gap.
To make up for what’s lost in the online customer experience, Sabon’s site uses a constant loop of promotions and calls to action that give customers a sense of added value. They can’t see the products in-person, but they can get them shipped for free, and Sabon even offers gift wrapping to bump up the experience to that next rung on the ladder.
Make your site complement your brick-and-mortar stores
The interplay between online store and brick-and-mortar experience is a delicate tightrope, and every business has to walk it in their own way. Tilt too far one way, and you’ll make the physical shop irrelevant. Lean too far in the other direction, and your site may slowly wither away. For Sabon, the goal was to provide as delightful an E-Commerce experience as possible, while still encouraging visitors to check out the physical products for themselves.
All too often, we see E-Commerce sites skimp on this step by making store locations feel like cookie-cutter franchise operations. Sabon gives customers a sense of direction and an actionable first step by placing all of the store locations within the Google Maps API. By providing unique images for each location and specific directions on how to get there, any retailer with a brick-and-mortar offering can make each store feel like a distinct place with an identity of its own.