>> Jan 9, 2013
Studies show that web users will click away from a site within five seconds if they can't find what they're looking for. These people buy in the High Street too. Is retail affected by the shortening attention spans of shoppers?
Attention spans and web design
Studies show that a web user will give a new website as little as five seconds to catch their attention. That means if they can't find what they're looking for in that crucial first five seconds, they're gone. This is absolutely vital for ecommerce sites. They have to be designed from the ground up with that five second attention span in mind. Good web designers have this down to a fine art. The site will use that valuable 'above the fold' visual retail space to communicate what they're about, what the offers are and what the USP is. Video and images will catch the visitor's attention and copy will be short and punchy. Navigation around the site will be straightforward and even when the visitor leaves, remarketing ads will follow him to remind him of the store wherever he browses.
Are there lessons for retail?
Many retailers have opened online stores but can they take any lessons learned there and apply them to the High Street store? Above the fold on the web home page is just like the shop window, but the analogy can go further. The shopper should be able to find his way easily around the stock which should be laid out in a logical manner. Are the most profitable lines easy to find? Are the prices clear? What about special offers? There are all kinds of retail fittings and accessories to help, from good signage and racking to rail size dividers and shop hanger size cubes.
The deal is in the detail
The deal is in the detail
There is evidence that shortened attention spans are beginning to have an effect on High Street shoppers and the smallest details can make a difference. How much does the customer really want that dress? How long will she spend looking for her size? Perhaps not as long as in the past and then she'll be gone from the shop and looking elsewhere on the street. Shop assistants are expensive and there will never be enough of them to serve every customer at once. Clearly marked sizes on shop hanger size cubes can help her find the right size much more quickly and give her more time to make that purchase and more purchases. Good ecommerce web sites are also good at up-selling. Are there accessories beside the changing rooms and tills?
The retail market is extremely tight and the smallest things can make a difference. Having suffered at the hands of business lost to the online world it is perhaps time for retailers to use lessons learned from online stores to gain a competitive edge on the High Street. Much more can be done to help the customer find and purchase the goods they are looking for quickly and without fuss. In these tough economic times, hiring more staff is never going to be the answer, but much as good web design aids the visitor to serve themselves, good retail design can make use of similar tools and philosophies to ensure purchases are maximised.
George James is a retail consultant who advises clients on optimising stores. He contributes to many blogs on all aspects of store design. He believes tiny details like correct use of signage and shop hanger size cubes can make a huge difference.