Industry Eye: Shop Talk - Q&A; Web Content
Q&A With 'Shoptimism' Author, Lee Eisenberg
As the economy creeps back and holiday season is upon us, the $64,000 question is whether consumers will start buying again. Lee Eisenberg — best-selling author, former Lands' End executive and former Esquire editor — certainly thinks so. His new book, "Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What," released in October, explores Americans' love affair with shopping. All About ROI asked Eisenberg his thoughts behind the book and his outlook for all forms of retail.
All About ROI: What was your intent with ?the book?
Lee Eisenberg: Shopping and buying are activities we engage in every day, yet few of us have much insight why we do what we do and how what we do can be influenced by those in the business of selling us things.
So I take readers on what I believe is a lively and informative tour through both sides of the consumer universe. In the first half, we journey through what I call the "sell side" — that's your side: the world of marketers, consumer researchers, ad agencies, retailers of every description, even neuroscientists — in an effort to show how the various forces align. In the second half, I peer into what makes consumers tick: their love of the new and different, why men and women may behave differently in stores, why some are cheapskates and others shop with holes in their pockets.
AAROI: What's your take on shopping in 2010?
LE: Most people I've talked ?to have a far greater appreciation of value than they did just a few years ago. For example, women's fashion blogs are talking more about "cost per wear" than about whose designer label is attached to an item. One really positive development is how the internet has made prices more transparent, as well as given us all literally millions of personal shoppers who work on our behalf: consumers who buy various products then post reviews to either warn us against something or endorse an item's benefits and features. Bottom line: People are cutting down on spending, but there are tools at hand to enable everyone to spend smarter.
web content: Adding Value for Customers ?Increases Their Value to YOU
For years, catalog marketers advocated adding small articles and sidebars to catalogs to increase consumer confidence. These tidbits are referred to as "added value," and they add richness to the buying experience. In fact, they often improve order sizes and bottom lines.
But very few marketers have effectively translated this strategy online, despite being well worth the cost and effort. Naturally, web space costs a fraction of the price per square inch in a catalog, so this won't set you back much. Still, appropriate content and organization must be part of the plan to ensure articles and other special features are worthwhile and really do add value.
Added-value items are appropriate on both consumer and B-to-B websites. They range from blogs about product designs and features to "how to choose an ergonomic chair" to tips for proper fit for jeans on an apparel site.
These tools keep consumers on your site longer and give them more confidence to purchase once they have information that helps them decide. Here are some marketers using "added value" effectively online:
Lehmans.com: This site with nonelectric tools, appliances and gifts has an information center with articles on composting, canning, choosing the right wood stove and more. For someone who's trying to live "off the grid," this is very handy information.
CateringSuppliesDepot.com: A site designed for professional caterers and cooks, its "learning center" articles include how to start a catering business and how to choose the best knife for a job.
Utrechtart.com: This art supplies website holds art contests for many levels of artists. It also offers a learning center and artist profiles.
A great way to choose what will work on your site is to talk to your customer service department, which can tell you what your customers are interested in. Create a special spot for added-value content; then, use email to alert your customers what's awaiting them.
—Carol Worthington-Levy, partner, creative services, Lenser (firstname.lastname@example.org).