The secret life of an online shopper story 1

I am an online customer.

When I want a product, I first google to do my research. I will search by need or product category and then, either drill down into the product and service explanation, or check out customer forums to make my decision.

This year almost all my purchases were online…I bought a $2,500 sofa bed, off the web page, just based on the compelling story of careful manufacture and comfort….resplendent with their scientific diagrams which hooked me right in. Even the company’s url was doing it for me. The no nonsense business name www.strictlycomfort.com.au, told me these guys shared my values.

I also swapped cosmetic brands, after research into a skincare care need (well not a need, I am a little obsessed about my skin), took me a forum where one, seemingly very informed customer, was waxing lyrical about a specific brand, Dr Perricone. Dr Perrcione has positioned himself as the authority on skin care. In a clinical white coat, he leads with a Patented Sciences header (at this point I am a goner).  His products showcased with beakers and test tubes, to keep you in the trance of his scientific supremacy.

Dr Perricone walks you through his science in educational videos, and does what all highly profitable cosmetic companies do, creates a new product for every ailment. You can charge more when you create a new product for every (so called) need. You can make more money when you make more needs, enlarged pores…mmm really? Perricone’s sales pleas are problem-solution. Check out the marketing genius of Dr Perrcione at http://www.perriconemd.com, ladies be careful, it’s very seductive.

I bought a new heater, made all my decisions online, got the relative prices online and walked into David Jones and bought it. (Hey it was cold!). I also bought a fridge online, last year, made my choice online and cut the deal over the phone. The brilliance of the Dyson heater got me thinking vacuum cleaners, Dyson. Maybe they had been taking note of Dr Perricone too, Dyson had problem-solution vacuum cleaners… like ones for pets owners. I have made my choice and when the time comes I will pick it up from Myer or David Jones, (they are acting as dispatch in this transaction, the real retail value is online).

I am still making an appearance in bricks and mortar stores. I took the time in this post to ponder why. Well there is the Apple store, they lure you in with online and retail price parity. Apple are committed to a face to face sales experience for their brand. It is a complex sale and requiring dialogue and emotional revving up, that can’t be achieved as easily online.

I am still swanning around the ground floor of Department Stores enchanted by those womanly flavours of perfume and the glitz of cosmetic packaging. I find that I am now trained to wait for the “gift with purchase” as I rationalize with myself as to why I am not buying it cheaper online. As I shop, I hear from a shop assistant that bricks and mortar cosmetics are dropping 40% storewide to create price parity with etailers. “Wow” thinks me, “I can return to shop here as I did 4 years ago.”

Are there somethings that will be always bought in a physical store? I am starting to wonder. Take a bra for instance or eye glasses, you need to try them on right? Well True&Co use an online bra specifier to give you the best bra options, which they claim replaces the need for those awful fitting room experiences. https://trueandco.com.  True&Co send you five in the mail to try and return what you don’t want. I am sure that drives up the volume.

The five to try must work because Warby Parker, the stellar performer online glasses shop does just that…sends you 5 pairs. They  must have cracked the code on performance because Warby Parker quintupled its sales results in 2011. Check them out at http://www.warbyparker.com/

More shopping confessions coming soon.

Am I what I buy? Am I how I shop? The artwork of the conceptual artist  Barbara Kruger flashes in my mind  “ I shop therefore I am”.

Louise Kelly

Managing Director

www.heartsandminds.com.au

Founder Thought Leaders Circle

http://www.thoughtleaderscircle.com

6 thoughts on “The secret life of an online shopper story 1

  1. I have purchased glasses and contact lenses online a couple of times now and it’s been a great experience. I discovered I can get a free eye test bulk billed every two years, so I take the prescriptions for contacts and glasses away and purchase online. Sure, I wasn’t able to try the glasses on, but I’ve owned many pairs and know what suits and for just $20 for a pair of glasses, it’s worth the risk. There’s no way I can justify buying from an actual optical store when the last pair I purchased was $500.

  2. Hey Susanna….
    Great feedback…you got me thinking. I was just chatting to some else who read this blog about the great paradox, that while online sales seems like a no brainer we have Lululemon, Zara and Apple going ballistic through a bricks and mortar retail presence. I also retail swap at point of purchase for electricals. I might make my decision at the Good Guys etailer and walk into David Jones bricks and mortar to buy…which is the reverse which what happens with cosmetic and shoes….find what I like instore and they buy online.

    Cheers

    • I guess it depends on how complex and expensive the purchase is. I would also probably do research online and then buy something expensive like electrical items in store, because in theory it should be easier to return or swap if there is a problem. The less I know about a product, the more assistance I would hope for instore (although I think Australian service is very poor these days anyway, so I don’t rely on it).

      I’m hesitant to spend a lot of money on a product bought online unless I’ve owned the brand before and I’m happy with it. Spend a small amount and if it is a good experience, take a risk and spend more at their online store next time. Clothing is something I haven’t purchased much of online though because I still want to be able to try it on and see if I like it, unless I’m really familiar with the brand and cut and have owned that item before.

  3. Hi Susanna,

    Thanks for this I follow the same behaviour with one exception I do buy online sight unseen high priced items because I can’t be bothered driving around town checking a million different items

  4. I also went shopping for a sofa bed and found the experience really hard. They were either cheap and nasty or way too expensive from Europe. I ended up finding Sofa Studio on the internet and went to their showroom in Crows Nest. I ended up paying $2195 for their Manhattan sofabed. They also had latex mattress options which I hadn’t seen before. Anyway, check them out http://www.sofastudio.com.au

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