Dabs.com Product Manager Duncan Rutherford asks: What is utopia for an online shopper?

OPINION: Understanding online shoppers’ behaviour

Dabs.com Product Manager Duncan Rutherford asks: What is utopia for an online shopper?

For years bricks and mortar retail has always had the upper hand on online retail in its ability to be able to interact and learn from its customers’ behaviour on a face-to-face basis. 

Having said that, in the last two years the online experience, for the most part, has dramatically improved. Enhanced CRM tools, analytics packages and social media has helped to provide a more personalised experience for customers, with good examples visible in the clothing and travel sectors. 

Unfortunately, despite the technology arena we play in, it seems that the online IT industry is behind the curve in this area.

It wasn’t until recently, when we conducted some mystery shopper-style user experience testing on dabs.com, that I got serious insight into customer behaviour. 

Watching and listening to their thoughts as they browsed and purchased on site gave a unique look at the way customers think as they peruse products, evaluate prices and make statements about the website’s functionality. From a product manager’s position it’s easy to think ‘Product, Price, Promotion’ but it’s so much more detailed than that. 

Customers don’t want to be told exactly what to buy; they want to be guided via a series of simple steps that get them down to a smaller set of products they can choose from. From there we can better execute the three Ps principle as well as educate them about trade-up and attach opportunities that will give a better experience with their chosen purchase. 

It’s also important to remember we have to provide balance, and appreciate that testing is always a sample, and be careful not to make sweeping generalisations or invoke changes just based on a handful of thoughts. 

While it’s vital to spot trends, it’s also important to remember that we are the online experts and have to use the knowledge we gain from customers to focus our thinking, whilst ensuring we make the best decisions to suit the vast majority of our users.

What is utopia for an online shopper? It’s the convenience of buying online but with a retail-like experience. While we can’t offer one-to-one sales advisors or physical interaction with products, what we can do is create a user-friendly, simplified shopping experience for those who want it. 

The challenge is always about how we do that effectively. However, the fact we can now identify those opportunities in the first place by learning from our customers, feels like we’re taking the right first steps.

About the author

Duncan Rutherford is Product Manager for online retailer http://www.dabs.com/.

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