I just got my email alert on the latest kitchen styles from IKEA. The site’s not the easiest to shop – mostly because you really have to know what you’re looking for – but it boasts a vast amount of interactive tools. People like me (I do an enormous amount of shopping online) love seeing products out of the box and put to use in real life.
Food, basic toy and standard appliance products are easy sells, but have you ever found yourself taking a trip to a local store or shopping mall to check out the full details of a product before going back online to price shop? Visually, many items are harder sells, because the computer screen isn’t three dimensional.
Showcase products in livable settings
So, how do you showcase tangible products consumers can visualize in their own environment? Use simple, yet “livable” surroundings. A line of cookware, for example, could be displayed in a basic kitchen that looks usable, but not cluttered. Follow the rule-of-thumb for putting your house on the market: Pack away family photos – personal things that make the home “yours,” yet leave items that can fit many decorative styles.
There’s a reason many furniture showrooms display their products in actual sectioned “rooms.” It helps shoppers visualize everything, right down to a lamp or magazine rack. They’re careful about making things too personal (many don’t include photos in frames, but rather use mirrors to open up the space). They “make” the beds using comfortable- looking throw pillows and simplified duvets. I knew that a black KitchenAid mixer would work well in my kitchen for years to come, but I wasn’t sure if the coffee table I had my eye on would work. Displaying a standalone image as well as an “environment” graphic would have helped close the sale. The same goes for the comforter set I purchased online last year – had I not seen it displayed in a livable room, I probably wouldn’t have gone for the design.
Showing off your products in realistic environments rings especially true for niche markets, just as seeing how a pair of flair-leg slacks fits a model gives a better idea of how it’s going to work in your own wardrobe.
Invite customers to send photos or reviews
Don’t have the budget for studio shots? Some small businesses are now showcasing products by setting them up in their own homes, while others invite customers to send in their own pictures. At Crutchfield.com, customer images are sometimes spotlighted with reviews that add a nice personal touch and also showcase the product.
Vary the product views
Alternate views are also key with many products. I just picked up some new electronic equipment. I found many sites with similar pricing, but the sale-getter had several views (front, back, side and close-up). It allowed me to decide if the design of the product was right for me without having to start my car to hit the local Best Buy. In fact, lack of alternate views made it difficult this past holiday season to purchase toys for my nephews online. I had trouble grasping the real detail of the products.
You may not get many requests for display images or alternate views, and that’s probably because most shoppers don’t think to ask. They either buy on the spot (and return it if it’s not what they were after), shop locally first to view the item (which can cost you a sale today) or move onto something else. All three scenarios can cost you money.
Small things can get the sale
What makes shopper-friendly sites stand out are the extra provisions that actually help sell, yet don’t invade the shopper. The customer may never realize they bought from you because of your product displays, but it’s the little things they may not catch onto that makes them show their appreciation – by awarding you the sale.