The e-tailing community is humming with talk about the new effort at the Gap.com. Gap's aggressive stance on improving its customer experience is a delight to watch. Its goal to cut down clicks and make online shopping even easier has been the focus of a $10 million redesign. A recent "New York Times" article chronicles the experience:When women browse Gap.com's T-shirt section, they do not have to click to a new page to see details about the 16 shirts shown on each page. Rather, when they put the cursor over an item (called "mousing over" in industry parlance), they are invited to click on a "quick look" link for the shirt. That link yields a pop-up window that shows a model wearing the shirt alongside swatches of the colors it is available in. Mouse over any swatch, and the shirt takes on its hue -- and the window tells you what sizes are in stock.
From a technology and usability perspective, the new Gap.com product interface is leaps ahead. The use of AJAX (define) is impressive. The site developers should be proud; this interface will be the envy of many.
The site was down over the past few weeks for the upgrade. PR from that, however, might be helping rather than hurting. Whether or not this was by design, it's successfully working many up into a frenzy.
The redesigned site will certainly spike sales in the short term. But if Gap really wants to maximize this opportunity, I have a few tips.
Avoid Marketing Your Flashy New Technology
Sure, you're saving me some clicks and making my time on your site easier, but please don't sell it to me like it's the best thing since sliced bread. I'm most interested in your products; that's why I'm here, not to try your technology. And believe it or not, some people won't even notice the improvement. Customers are most concerned about finding and buying jeans and shirts. The rest is either in the way or not.
Optimize Your Prime Real Estate
"In the old world, it'd take dozens of clicks to hack through pull-down menus for size, color, style," Toby Lenk, president of Gap Inc. Direct, said in the "Times" article. "Nobody had figured out how to let someone put together an outfit and buy off one page. It's just very hard to do."
Saving me clicks is great, but Gap.com folks seemed to have forget about several clicks on the site. On a few of our in-house tests, it took a minimum of three clicks for users to even find this cool, new product-browsing tool.
The top navigation text is small and almost invisible. And when I land on the home page, the action Gap wants me to take is unclear.
The home page's prime real estate is dominated by references to music, not products. When I click on "Men" in the top navigation, I'm greeted with a rather unappealing photo and no images of all the products I can shop for this section. If Gap is trying to use the actual store as the metaphor, then I expect to see men's clothing -- not pictures of men -- when I land on the section's main page. Main section pages should resemble the Women's Fall Trends page, an engaging way to shop different products.
Don't Forget the Checkout Process
The shopping experience is wonderful, but hit the checkout button and things get shaky. The shopping bag summary page is great. There are thumbnails of the products I selected and I can see the different shipping options with the calculated price. It would be helpful to know at this point when the product will ship.
When I continue through checkout, I'm forced to sign in. This is a big no-no. On a site where additional clicks are to be avoided, Gap.com forces an extra, precious click by adding a totally unnecessary page in the checkout process.
Once the new site stabilizes, the retailer should turn its incredibly innovative, clever development team toward the shopping cart. Find a way to save me clicks and hassle and reassure me that my transaction will be secure.
The Power of a Strong Brand
Some of these problems may seem small, but each is a leak in the cash drawer. Still, the new Gap site will be a resounding, well-earned success. And not just because of the great development, but because people have such an investment in buying from this brand (clearly illustrated by its competitors' traffic not spiking). Their tolerance for site inconveniences has been raised slightly, but only until some other site or brand becomes just as hip and usable.
Gap is committed to its customer experience and willingly pushed the limits. I give it an A for strategy but a C for execution. Given time, the right metrics, and equal commitment to optimizing the customer experience, the retailer will get it right.
Marketers Rejoice! ClickZ has launched ClickZ Live, an educational series to bring you innovative online marketing strategies and techniques. Learn to construct and successfully execute multi-channel marketing campaigns, plus identify key metrics and translate them into actionable plans.
Thursday, July 18: ClickZ Live will be in Vancouver, BC. Register before July 1 to save $100!
Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
June 18, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT
June 20, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT