May 26, 2011

Designing E-commerce Experiences for Women

Elysa Soffer's picture
Elysa Soffer

One of our clients sells products and apparel for men and women. Hot was brought on to discover opportunities to increase conversion rates by improving the overall customer experience of their e-commerce website. We quickly discovered that the client’s brand target was predominantly male, even though women accounted for more than half of their sales. After speaking with multiple customers, we found that women were unsatisfied with the shopping experience because it felt too male and wasn’t speaking to them. Men recognized that the brand experience was designed for them, but they had usability issues that needed to be addressed. This feedback, shared with the client in the form of direct quotes, provided the support we needed to make recommendations that considered all types of shoppers. Approaching the project from the customer’s perspective, we faced the challenge of figuring out how to design for the male customer while providing tools for women that would enable them to enjoy the shopping experience too.

Highlighted exerts from Paco Underhill’s books Why We Buy and What Women Want began to circulate around Hot. These books serve as reminders to recognize the different types of customers and the different contexts in which people prefer to shop. Underhill calls out the differences between men and women shoppers and the need to design for their preferred shopping experiences.

An article recently posted on Fast Company caught our attention:
Women Dominate The Global Market Place; Here Are 5 Keys To Reaching Them

The highlights:

  • Women control 65% of global spending and more than 80 percent of U.S. spending.
  • By 2014, the global income of women is predicted to grow by more than $5 trillion.
  • In both emerging markets and developed nations, women’s power of influence extends well beyond the traditional roles of family and education to government, business, and the environment.

“For the most part, though, the average female consumer still feels under-represented and misunderstood, and her power and influence is woefully under acknowledged—or just plain ignored—by most service and product companies. She may be buying, but for the most part, she’s not getting the experiences she wants.”

“The businesses that spend the time and resources to engage and understand this female consumer will claim those dollars and create a win-win situation with a long-term and loyal consumer.”

Key ways to design a more meaningful experience for "Her":

  1. Acknowledge Her Influence
  2. Join Her Circle
  3. Understand Her Similarities
  4. Respect Her Differences
  5. Grow With Her

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Jackie's picture

I loved your article and would like to add this insight. I have been in the apparel business for over 20 years working in markets that cater to Men, Women and Children. And what I see as a miss with online retailers experience is the shopping experience it self. When designing or producing a brand or new seasonal line of clothes for a retail environment the shoppers experience is looked at a million different ways and one of the things that is reviewed is how does the brand or line fit into the "amusement park theory". The amusement park theory looks at the experience and how that experience will capture the customer and guide her to want to take a souvenir home from the experience. Much like going to an amusement park for a child they are having such a great time they want to take home a souvenir to remember and share their experience. Online shopping lacks this experience entirely. Based on your article I thought you might find this insight interesting. This is the short version of this theory but again thought you might find useful. Good Luck

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