We live in a time where the entire consumer shopping experience is now taking place online. With the advent of technology and the overall Internet of Things, consumers are using the Internet in all its forms to guide their purchasing decisions, from need identification to the purchase itself all with a few touches of a button and from the comfort of their own homes. Shoppers seek out information online now more than ever and businesses are tasked with adapting to this digital revolution that is not going anywhere, especially as e-commerce begins to push out brick-and-mortar stores. To provide the best consumer shopping experience, having an up-to-date and easily navigable website is tantamount, and basic, to success in retail. Even if customers do decide to go into a physical store, the Internet—namely the company website or a retailer of the product—is their first stop before getting in the car.
To take advantage of the Internet’s capabilities, retailers must ensure that their businesses are among the first ones, if not the first one, that a customer sees when searching for products that it offers. One way to do this is through search engine optimization (SEO), a very important factor in business success as it improves traffic to a website by increasing the site’s visibility in online search results (search engine optimization, n.d.). Nike is one of the most successful business in its field, but it had not done well in being visible to customers in online searches until a few years ago, where it had to see outside help to come up with a better SEO solution.
Visual appeal and functionality in addition to search engine optimization are crucial to the success of a business’s online endeavors. Just as physical stores are designed to be appealing, online shopping should be the same way (Kim et al., 2004). Consumers expect visual appeal online, too. One website found that is not quite visually appealing is for the Australian retailer and mass merchandiser Harvey Norman. Upon viewing the front page of the website, there are several discount offers, featured products, brands and new offerings and services at the retailer. Scrolling along the page sees all of these items with minimal organization and by the bottom of the page, there are long columns that show all the product categories, customer services and more. The front page is not only lengthy, but showing various sizes of fonts and repeated links at the top and bottom of the page. The pages within the website do not have very many colors and the majority of the screens are a bleak white, making it not very visually appealing to the customer. The page could stand to be compartmentalized by categories on the front page, including advertised offers, featured products and new products in a style that shows a consistent rotation of products in several “slides.” Compared to a website and bigger retailer like Macy’s, that website’s front page is engaging and although longer than that of Harvey Norman’s, it is more visually appealing. It makes use of the colors of its products instead of the base red and white colors of the company’s brand. It also uses infographic like images that can be clicked through to go to different categories instead of showing a lengthy vertical list at the top and bottom of the page. It is engaging with bright and neutral colors, is easy to navigate and loads very quickly, in less than two seconds. Even when searched online, Macy’s website will come up before Harvey Norman, but this is also due to the fact that the two businesses are established in two different countries; Harvey Norman is not U.S.-based.
- Kim, S., Williams, R., & Lee, Y. (2004). Attitude toward online shopping and retail website quality: A comparison of US and Korean consumers. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 16(1), 89-111.
- Macy’s – Shop Fashion Clothing & Accessories – Official Site. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2017, from https://www.macys.com/
- search engine optimization. BusinessDictionary.com. Retrieved September 25, 2017, from BusinessDictionary.com website: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/search-engine-optimization.html
- Shop Online for Computers, Electrical, Furniture, Bedding, Bathrooms & Flooring | Harvey Norman Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2017, from https://www.harveynorman.com.au/