All business sectors share common problems. Studying other industries' best practices can help solve your own issues.
Every industry has unique issues. Yet industries also share common problems. When solving problems for one industry, I often find the solutions by looking at best practices in another industry.
Although I mainly focus on the problems facing multichannel retail companies in this column, I often get email from people who run business-to-business (B2B) service companies, pharmaceutical companies, financial companies, real estate companies, and so forth. They ask similar questions, believing information about retailers doesn't apply to them. One of our current clients, for example, is a very large real estate company. Let's look at how we sectionalize a typical retail site's functionality and apply it to the real estate company's site.
Properties Are Products
There are three major user processes in the retail industry:
The real estate industry has similar processes:
By drawing these parallels, we can look at best practices in other industries (such as retail) and see what functionality can be used in the context of this site. The real estate site we're working on doesn't make recommendations during the property process, for example. It simply lists the properties and displays details for the property selected. Taking a cue from the retail world, it should offer a comparison feature, suggest alternative properties, and list up-sells (such as a parking space) the user could opt to lease along with an apartment.
The next time you redesign your site or add new functionality, survey sites similar to yours, as well as those with wholly different business models or that are in completely different industries, and seemingly have nothing to offer in the way of best practices. You'll be surprised how much you can learn.
Until next time...
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August 21, 2014