Magazine Article | March 1, 2006

Achieve Navigation Intelligence

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Consider this online retail best practice for improved sales.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, March 2006

Retailers — from major department stores to specialty brand retailers — should realize the benefits of product catalog navigation solutions that are easy to integrate, fast to implement, and simple to use for enriching the shopping experience of their customers and increasing sales.

"If you can't find it — you can't buy it" is a truer adage for online selling than for physical retail stores. A shopper who enters a retail store expects to walk around looking for merchandise, while an online shopper expects to have a plethora of browsing selections in as few clicks as possible — or even before clicking at all. If online retailers do not meet a shopper's expectation of easy access to all available merchandise, the shopper and the sales opportunity can quickly be lost.

According to studies by User Interface Engineering, impulse buying represents more than 25% of all e-commerce sales. Furthermore, 87% of these impulse purchases are generated due to consumers clicking and browsing versus using search functionality.

Whether customers use search or categories to traverse a site, limited means of findability and organization lead to limited sales. Mere search is proven not to be enough; it too easily creates sales-stopping experiences like "results not found." Fixed merchandising categories don't solve the problem either, since they are usually rigid and inflexible, and don't map to the decision making elements of the shopper.

Create A Holistic Online Shopping Experience
Navigation is a key tool for Web site users and the next generation in online shopping experience. Navigation is a superset of a series of tightly integrated functions, including search, browse, discovery, user tagging, and personalized shopping alerts, which are designed to deliver a holistic shopping environment online.

A site's navigation is only as effective as the supporting underlying software solution. It is the software that limits or bolsters shoppers' experiences and supports Web-based merchandising techniques. A well-designed, next-generation navigation platform allows shoppers to:
  • gain a bird's eye view of an online store and the full range of available products
  • drill down into specific merchandise areas through intuitive product categories, while never losing track of how they got there and how they can navigate back
  • be presented with all contextually relevant accessories and add-ons and understand the relationship of relevant merchandise
  • enjoy product reviews and other sources of relevant content available on the Internet, yet presented within the context of their shopping experience
  • use tagging to annotate products of interest or share others' tags for improved findability
  • receive product update information through personalized shopping alerts, customized to detailed levels.

Navigation is fast emerging as a retail best practice. For the customers, a well-designed navigational site means a much improved shopping experience. For the retailer, adopting navigation means a higher percentage of browsers converting to shoppers, increased impulse purchases, larger average shopping carts, improved repeat visits, and enhanced customer loyalty. Retailers should consider adopting a navigation platform to raise their competitiveness and enhance sales while improving customer loyalty through delivering a state-of-the-art shopping experience.