With the internet having become so intertwined with our lives, it is but natural that people’s behavior on the internet will be controlled more by their subconscious - as it is in the offline world. By extension, this would also apply to shopping on the internet. Online shopping, with the improvements in web technologies, will also be governed by the same laws as it is in the offline space.
Now, let us think about that. How we do shop in the offline world? From the top of my head, I can think of the following broad shopping behaviours:
- Going to a mall and looking around discovering products.
- Notice what my friends and people around me are buying. Are some of the products outliers and being bought significantly more than the rest?
- Asking my friends about what variety / brand of a specific product should I buy. For instance, books, cameras etc.
- Being lured by discount sales signboards on stores.
- A friend / colleague informing me about a discount sale in one of the stores.
But if we look at the vast majority of the current online stores, one might come up with the following trends in the shopping:
- A discount sales banner on the store’s landing page.
- People already know what they want to buy and search for that item.
So, in conclusion, we are missing out on tapping the already ingrained shopping behaviors of people. And as the actions of people on the internet start getting governed by the laws of the offline world, it only makes sense to make the shopping experience on your site emulate as closely as possible to the one people are already familiar with.
Enter social experiences!
Mapping very closely to the offline shopping behaviours, one might like to have the following shopping experiences on an online store to give a more social (offline-like) environment to shop:
- A destination to discover products. Giving a search bar on the store is not discovering – it is searching. People will search products what they already want. In a mall, people kill time looking around for things available. And frankly, clicking on product categories and visiting product pages is just too much to ask.I believe it will be make even more sense if the discovery destination shows up more relevant products to the user. Impulse buying can be huge benefit.
- Checking out what my friends are buying. My opinion is unknowingly governed by what is the opinion of my friends (peer pressure can go a long way).
- Having the ability to let people decide on multiple products / brands / varieties by asking their friends. It is better that they make a late decision rather than just dropping out of the entire shopping purchase.
- Spreading word to friends about a purchase that I have made on a discount sale / any sale that I find interesting. I’ll be more inclined to go to a sale which my friend brought to my attention rather than discovering it in a newspaper advertisement.
Not farther into the future, I think that these social experiences will become integral to the shopping decisions of an online user – just as it has in the offline world.