I just needed a chain. Instead I got a bad experience.
My daughter and I recently became interested in jewelry making, not for profit, just for a fun hobby. As you can imagine, there are a plethora of options online for stocking up on jewelry supplies but I found something peculiar — very few of these ‘crafting’ retailers have figured out how to make the experience of searching for supplies less miserable. When visiting these sites, I felt like I was online shopping in the early 2000s — how is this even possible?
One site in particular, which will remain unnamed, was especially stuck in the Internet stone age when it came to online experiences. This retailer is not a small mom and pop but is a HUGE retailer for everything craft-related with thousands of SKUs for jewelry and jewelry making. Why then, when I entered the innocuous phrase ‘gold chain’ into the search box, did only one result return? Turns out they have dozens of gold chains – long ones, short ones, thin ones, thick ones, rose gold chains, antiqued gold chains, chain spools, individual chains – they have them all. When I searched for ‘antique gold jump rings’ pages and pages of jump rings showed up in the results but it wasn’t until far down the page that I saw actual antique gold jump rings and they only had one option that wasn’t what I needed. I was in the market for these supplies and was highly engaged spending no less than an hour browsing through products. I would reach the end of a product category page and it just stopped. No ‘More Like This’ or ‘People Also Viewed,’ it just stopped.
As a busy working mom with three kids, I am an avid online shopper and have been for years. I admit I have been undeniably tainted by the Amazon and Google effect — I expect relevance no matter how or what I search. I recently went to Amazon looking for a ‘choppy thing for meat’ (yes, that was the actual term I searched), and guess what, Amazon gave me exactly what I wanted and I bought this without hesitation. Amazon gets me which is why the experience with this unnamed company was so frustrating.
My experience is not unique to the crafting retailer – many online retailers are stuck on outdated platforms that don’t allow for the flexibility of relevance and personalization. The issue is that the Amazon and Google effect has made experiences like mine intolerable to the point of retailers losing customers (if they haven’t already). Consumers want relevance and it’s on retailers to give it to them.
I get it, merchandising is a challenge for many commerce companies. But there are solutions out there, like Reflektion, that change the way consumers engage with your merchandise, and let’s be real, having a positive or negative experience can change the way that consumers FEEL about your brand. I know I know, we are not in the business of feelings but we have to face the fact that feelings drive brand loyalty and repeat purchases.
So what can retailers do? Well, this may sound harsh – but they can start by engaging with their own site to see how it “feels.” Is the site predictive? Is it personal? Is it relevant? Does it engage you? Can you find what you are looking for? At Reflektion we ask ourselves these questions every day as we look to add new customers to our portfolio – we know how important it is to focus on experiences, not just merchandise. If you have all of the merchandise and SKUs but no one can find what they are looking for, that’s a problem. Reflektion has helped retailers like this home goods retailer vastly improve their customer experiences by adding personalized search and email, and category pages as well personalized content and recommendations and more to retailer websites, across all channels.
I ended up finding, and buying, my antiqued gold jump rings on Amazon.