7 Newer Ways to Adapt to the Web
A constant theme heard throughout the recent ACCM conference in Kissimmee, Fla., was how catalogers can no longer survive with the catalog alone. They must cater to today’s multichannel customer if they hope to thrive, which means effectively selling on the Web. A session led by Margaret Moraskie, vice president of e-commerce of the women’s apparel catalog Boston Proper, and Brad Wolansky, vice president of global e-commerce of the outdoor sporting goods and apparel catalog Orvis, offered up several tips on how to effectively sell merchandise online. Here are seven of their tips on adapting catalog practices to the Web.
1. Return to the basics. Provide the same experience regardless of the channel, Moraskie said. Make the shopping experience effortless and simple, using phrases such as “must have” and “can’t miss.” Keeping in mind that the typical Web page has about 10 seconds to grab the consumer’s attention, marketers should provide the merchandise in a way she shops, she said.
Accomplish this by making it quick and simple with such tools as a quick order for catalog numbers and browse features. Arrange your merchandise by category and fit so your site can be easily navigated.
2. Use like-item substitution. This technique, often used on Orvis’ site, allows similar products to be linked to one another for easy navigation, Wolansky said. This can effectively redirect customers to similar items when the original is out of stock.
The technique also enables marketers to link to different versions of the same item. In Orvis’ case, Wolansky said, short- and long-sleeve polo shirts are ideal candidates for like-item substitution.
There’s a risk involved, however, Wolansky cautioned, because you lead consumers someplace else. But Orvis’ results have far exceeded any drawbacks.
3. Use head-to-toe photography for apparel shots, Moraskie advised. This technique can help boost accessory sales by allowing consumers to see how entire outfits look, she said. Also leverage accessory sales through one click add to carts.
4. Use flash only when necessary. Some of the best conversion techniques are actually pretty boring, Wolansky said.
5. Be true to your brand, and connect with your customer. Moraskie listed the following questions she and other Boston Proper executives ask themselves about their customers when designing their site.
* What does she want?
* Why is she here?
* What else can you offer? In Boston Proper’s case, fashion trends from Paris are one example Moraskie cited.
* Are blogs, customer reviews and other newer tools right for us?
6. Prove with numbers. Do your research and testing before rolling out a campaign, leading you to be able to make IFB (or, “I firmly believe,” as they’re known at Orvis) statements to upper management. “If we spend X, we’ll get Y in return,” Wolansky said, providing an example of an IFB statement he uses with staff at Orvis. To increase sales and/or reduce costs, clearly lay out how, why and what you’re doing on the Web site, whether it be a sale/promotion, site redesign or search box, among other things.
7. Provide images and descriptions with catalog order boxes. An effective way to quickly and easily integrate your catalog and Web site, catalog order boxes enable customers to order from the catalog online. But shoppers want to be reminded of what they’re buying. They don’t want to be shown a text listing of an item, Wolansky said.
So on Orvis’ site, the catalog quick order results page has been redesigned to mirror its product pages, providing a better shopping experience for the customer. And Wolansky proved it’s worked. Catalog quick order sales grew 134 percent in the months following the launch of the new results page, and sales per visit are 7 percent greater this year.