Vive la difference!

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How men and women take different approaches to shopping online and how your eCommerce web site design can take advantage.

It’s a truism that women love shopping and men see it as only slightly more enjoyable than a trip to the dentists. But how does this behaviour translate to online shopping? And should an eCommerce website design take it into account?

Men were actually first to embrace online shopping – and not just because it avoided crowds, traffic and partners asking if their bum looked big in this. In the early days, the selection of products was limited to computers, software, music, and consumer electronics. These all have more of a male bias. Then as the eCommerce phenomenon began to develop, the variety of goods on offer expanded to include food, home goods, toys and … yes! … clothes and shoes. The girls soon got in on the act too.

So now both sexes happily shop online, but does their approach to it differ?

Men on a mission, women on a bargain hunt

The boys remain clearly focussed on what they’re looking to buy and don’t deviate from the mission too much. They’ll do meticulous research viewing all the product details and pictures. In contrast women quickly scan the product page and go to the next product they want. Males tend to search by product while females search by brand.

Combining eCommerce with social networking sites also produces noticeable differences in approach. Men predominantly look for information while women seek out sales, coupons and are generally more on the lookout for a bargain. The girls are also more likely to use social networking to recommend a brand, product or service to their friends and family.

Interestingly, the cliché that men are resistant to shopping begins to break down in the under 25s. Young men who have grown up with online shopping are doing it with friends, and rivalling women in the number of impulse purchases. Perhaps this might be a pattern to watch and pay attention to in future.

So how does this affect eCommerce website design?

If you’re in the online marketplace, you’ll usually need to reach both men and women. By catering to the distinctive behaviour of each gender, eCommerce merchants can increase conversion rates. Here are a few tips:

  • If you want to entice the boys onto your site, present detailed product descriptions, feature comparisons to other similar products, and provide customer reviews.
  • If you want to be popular with the ladies, offer an online chat feature, discussion forums, high-quality visuals and customer reviews. In that all-important clothing marketplace, it’s a good idea to provide video clips and slide shows of the goods.
  • When catering to women, try to make the shopping experience as social as possible. Include a list of recently viewed products and make it easy to return to those products. Since females do more browsing, ensure that your website allows for easy switching between related categories.
  • The girls love a bargain – so run regular sales and promotions to keep them interested and filling the those virtual shopping baskets.
  • Take into account differences in age behaviour with a male audience. If you’re aiming for a younger demographic, provide social media tools so they can share their experiences with friends. Unlike the dads, they enjoy browsing and interacting with others while shopping.

In every case, if you need help and advice on how to make your eCommerce website design work better at attracting both men and women, talk to iWeb. We have years of expertise and experience to draw upon and provide a bespoke web design service to suit your exact needs.

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