The holidays seem like eons ago. But, really, it was just a few weeks ago that we were all sitting around the fire, drinking hot cocoa, and unwrapping gifts. And just a few weeks before that, we were all scrambling to the mall to battle thousands of people in store after store, searching for the perfect present.

Well, maybe you were battling the crowds at the shopping malls, but I was not. This year, I did 100% of my shopping online. Everything down to the last bow and scotch tape was purchased using my iPad and my finger tapping. I found the experience to be significantly less stressful. I even smirked (just a little bit) when I saw the news segments with throngs of people pushing and shoving.

Because I didn’t get to touch, feel, pick up, hold, turn over, or drop the gifts that I purchased, I had to rely solely on two things:

  1. The content about the items.
  2. The reviews, where available.

It’s All About the Content

First and foremost, I focused on the words, photos, and videos that described the item. Whether it was the material of  the sweater (ooooh, cashmere!) or the color of the bag, or how the item was made (hand-blown glass, anyone?), I did a lot of reading and watching.

Quality

In order for me to click the “Buy Now” button, the content about the item I was purchasing had to be captivating. When I read the description, looked at the photograph, or watched the video, was I impressed with what I saw? Did it make me want to buy?

The content also needed to be immaculate. I would not spend money on a gift, sight unseen, if the quality of the website was crummy. Maybe it’s me, but spelling, grammar, and word errors reflect on the overall quality of the brand. If you want me to purchase your product, be sure that your content around that product is absolutely spotless. Otherwise, I don’t trust your company and I don’t trust whatever it is that you make to be of high quality.

If you don’t care about your content, I figure you don’t care about your product.

Visuals

And it wasn’t just the quality of the content. The type of content had an effect on what I decided to buy.

First, I wouldn’t buy anything that didn’t have a clear photo. If all you have to go on is content, the photos better be really good. Coach.com does a fabulous job with photos. In fact, they have six photos for each purse, including two different body views.

 

Some products really need a video to show how they work. Smartthings.com has a “See it in action” video that does a great job of showing me their products (I know, we buy some strange gifts around here). Another site that uses video to its selling advantage is Canon. They have a rather long video on their homepage. But, they put in markers where you can see each place in the video where different features are described.

Canon

And who would buy a Roomba without watching a cool video about it first?

http://www.irobot.com/For-the-Home/Vacuum-Cleaning/Roomba.aspx

What Does Everyone Else Say?

In addition to the product content, I looked very carefully at what everyone else had to say about the item.

irobot-stars

I have to admit, even if the overall rating of the product was five stars, I still wanted to read the one-star comments, just to see what people didn’t like.

roomba one-star

 Shopping has Fundamentally Changed

I was not alone. More and more people who I’ve spoken with let their fingers do the online shopping this year. Online shopping has fundamentally changed the nature of the activity. So, if I cannot pick up your product, shake it, drop it, and feel how smooth it is, I can only rely on what you tell me and what everyone else has to say.

You cannot control how people review your product or service. At least, you shouldn’t. What you can do is make the buying, using, and support experience as good as possible for your customer.

Providing quality content is the best place to start.

Val Swisher
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