The most startling discovery made by UIE was this: online affluent shoppers were three times more prone to continue shopping and do more impulse buying when they used the links than when they shopped using the search engine. They not only continued shopping, but they also purchased three times as many items. Why?
For one, when shoppers used the links they were made aware of more available luxury products. For example, if an affluent female shopper used the search engine to find Chanel No. 5 perfume, the search engine took them to the page for only Chanel No. 5. The shopper was not aware of the other available products. Whereas if the shopper used the links, she was made aware of many other brands of perfume. Second, using the links caused shoppers to travel through three times as many stages as required when using the search engine. This meant exposure to other, unrelated products.
Affluent customers cannot buy luxury products if they are not aware of them. The links on the websites provided awareness. This explains why shoppers in traditional stores often buy items spontaneously. As they walk through the store, they become aware of what is available. It also provides an explanation for the upsurge in sales of Mexican blankets at Wilco Gas Stations (see Part 1). When shoppers went in to buy Twinkies and coffee, which they often did, the new location of the blankets made shoppers aware of their existence. So they bought them. In effect, Wilco Gas provided links to their shoppers. The links made shoppers aware of an available item of which they were previously unaware.
UIE’s study provides valuable marketing information for sellers of luxury items. Product awareness motivates impulse buying. Awareness means product placement must be carefully chosen, not only in traditional stores, but also on websites. The design of a business website is of paramount importance.
Shoppers must be encouraged to use links rather than search engines. Which means the links must be user-friendly and self-explanatory, and provide ample description of luxury products. If the links are perplexing or the content vague, shoppers will abandon them.
UIE provides guidelines for website design:
- Does the website design invite shoppers to locate products via the links or does the design prod them back to the search engine?
- When shoppers use the search engine, do they continue shopping or do they stop? This information can be tracked and appropriate alteration in the website’s design made.
- Would the addition of user-friendly links increase luxury sales on the website?
- Is the website designed to track the use of links versus search engines?
One method of using the website to market luxury goods more effectively is to examine the search logs on the website. The search logs reveal the common search-words that online shoppers use. These words can be established as links, making the links more attractive and easier to use. This simple change will motivate impulse buying.