Treat your customers online like you do in store

by Jim October 23, 2019

I embarked on a rare retail outing this weekend and was amazed at the differences between some retailer’s physical and online set-ups. Some websites still think it’s okay to use their homepage to cram as much advertising about the general business in as possible, but they forget one thing; that customers are only interested in finding and buying products.

What I learned

  • Don’t overcomplicate retail design
  • Make it easy to find products
  • Don’t push promotions before products
  • Shopping is different to retail


Hey, welcome back Rankers. How you going? I just wanted to talk to you a little bit today about retail design where we left off last week, because I was at one of my favourite stores on the weekend, Jaycar. I pretty much only go to two stores, Jaycar and Bunnings, which is like a large hardware shop.

Make it easy

Now, when I went into the store, the thing that you notice when you get there is you go in and you see all the signage above all the shelves. You know where all the categories are. You know, it`s easy for you to go and get things, right? That`s what we should be doing in our websites, and we don`t. What does this tell me? I don`t know where the electronics are. I don`t know where the capacitors are. I don`t know where the cabling is. I don`t know where the LED lighting is. I don`t know where any of the transformers are, right?

I`m going to have to go and ask someone, but there`s no one here, right? Instead, I`m met with a giant sign that`s telling me to shop, earn points, get rewards and perks, and become a member. Well, I`m already a member. I`ve been a card carrying member for years. Now, look, I`m not picking on … Well, obviously, I`m picking on Jaycar. Look, they`re great people. I love their brand, I love their shop, but their website is making a lot of the mistakes that most retailers make, and big retailers, too.

There are exceptions to this, but when you start to think about … I said to the guy at … because I talk to the managers a lot down there. Hi, Mornington. I said to them, `If I was coming into that store … Look at the front door right now.` I said, `There`s no big sign in front of that front door, as soon as I come into the shop, that says this. They`re little signs like this, or there`s a sign over here. But I can clearly see what I came in for. I can`t when we do this to our customers.`

Shopping is not retail

That`s one of the main things that we have assumed with retail. I was talking to a customer today and she`s got a new store opening up, which is great, right? And there`s a big banner across the top of her site. I said, `Trace, in your stores, when I go to one in Brisbane, say, or Melbourne, when I walk through that front door is the first thing I see telling me to shop at another one of your stores?` Of course not, right? So this is how we have assumed certain things with retail websites that are just completely wrong. Shopping is shopping. Retail is retail.

The way that users want to use your site is the same way that they want to shop. They want to find their products. Now, sure, you can argue there`s different shopping experiences. There`s shopping malls that sort of stuff. But essentially, the fundamental is you don`t walk up into a shop if you`re working in retail and say, `Hi, can I help you?` No. You let the customer find what they came in for, and if they need you, you make sure they let you know where you are. So, chat help, those sorts of things. All great, right? But make it easy for the customer to buy from you, the same way as you would in a shop. That`s it. Hopefully that`s helpful, and we`ll see you next week. Thanks very much. Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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