The Internet began as a male dominated medium, but those days are long gone and merchants are advised to make sure their websites are female friendly to faciliate the rising surge of busy i-Moms shopping online for their family and friends.
Women now account for 51.7% of Internet usage according to a 2005 Lucid marketing study but that's only the tip of iceberg. When it comes to online purchasing, women are clearly leading the way. According to a Bizrate survey, women accounted for 62% of online purchases in the fourth quarter of 2004!
The above statistic shouldn't be that surprising when we consider that women are busy household managers and make many financial decisions across the United States. According to Small Business Administration, "women currently make up 80 percent of consumer spending. They currently purchase more than half the automobiles that are sold in this country. They consistently purchase more groceries, apparel and durable goods than men and they have become the primary ones to make healthcare decisions in 75 percent of American households."
Other research shows that women are less likely than men to use the Internet for entertainment purposes, but rather they are looking for information, household tips, low prices, and, especially, ease of use in purchasing online.
The following seven recommendations will make your website a friendly home for busy moms online.
1. Make your website easy to navigate. A specific product should be easily found and only be a few clicks away from anywhere in the website.
2. Provide in-depth product information. The more product comparisons, reports and reviews you can add, the less likely they'll leave your website to round out their research.
3. Provide quality graphics. Seeing and feeling is of course the best way to examine and test a product, but the shortage of time has trumped that luxury. A quality fast loading image is extremely desirable.
4. Offer a maximum selection. Whether in your store or on your website, this always makes sense.
5. Maintain competitive pricing. The Internet facilitates easy price comparisons, if your prices are too high, it won't be a secret. Check the prices of your competitors.
6. Offer a variety of shipping options including gift wrapping. Women buy the great majority of family gifts. Merchants who gift wrap will get a lot of free advertising by word of mouth.
7. Offer excellent customer service. If there's a problem, a return or a question, there's nothing like a friendly voice by telephone.
During last Christmas, I noticed a tremendous scene. At my in-laws about 8 of us were sitting in the family room together. Some of the men were watching sports on television, others were chatting, while my wife, mother-in-law and daughter were online at three computer terminals on a long table in the same family room, all shopping for the holidays. They were comparing, giving each other advice, had their credit cards out, and were getting it done. Presents were being picked, wrapped and shipped all over the country. My mother-in-law gets the credit for realizing that she could keep the whole family together by moving the computers into one living area. Everyone was having a great time. Make your online store female friendly and you'll receive a loyal clientele for years to come.
Rick David writes a feature column for
Merchant America a nationwide provider of credit card, debit card and check
verification services for merchants. Rick also writes a comedy column entitled,
Don't Laugh, It Could Happen To You
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