CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
With a projected CAGR of 39%, housewares is expanding fast online as more purchases shift from catalogs. To capture a bigger piece of the pie, online retailers must serve up products in context and offer easy comparison, Jupiter says.
Online sales of household goods and small appliances online will reach some $6.9 billion in 2007, up from an estimated $1.9 billion this year, according to Jupiter Research Inc. That jump, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of 39%, will be spurred largely by consumers shifting offline purchases to the online channel, and it represents an opportunity for online merchants--but only if they adjust web site strategy and functionality to capture the influx, Jupiter says.
To corral their share of sales from the increasing number of shoppers looking for household goods online, retailers must present merchandise in comparative and contextual settings that appeal to two factors that drive consumer purchases in this arena: the desire to fill a need and the desire to, in effect, visualize a product’s use in their life. On the first front, online retailers should present household goods with practical information to suit task-oriented shopping preferences, such as whether dishes are dishwasher safe, for example.
Like the goods themselves, the copy describing them on the web site should be sufficiently utilitarian. Jupiter notes that many retailers of household items are rewriting product copy online to include bullet lists of specific information rather than blocks of text. Some online retailers are going further by adding full comparison functionality that allows shoppers to compare product specifications side by side on a page.
Because consumers also shop for home products to fill a need in their lifestyle, Jupiter notes, online retailers can increase sales by displaying the products in visually appealing collections such as room settings. One major retailer, Jupiter notes, has reported that adding every product featured in a collection spread to a detail page has helped boost product sales.
“The key to success in adding context to a merchandising strategy is to facilitate purchases by consumers who don’t need the added detail, while offering visible access to supporting content to those that do,” says Jupiter.