Blog Post - Alea Brooke, Jul 26 2018

5 ways to engage the female shopper online and drive sales

5 ways to engage the female shopper online and drive sales

Women are a disruptive force in today’s commercial market; they make up to 85% of all purchasing decisions – so, appealing to their mindset online should be a commercial imperative.

Whether we like the idea or not, the way we shop is predetermined by our mindsets, categorised by our gender. Typically, women are associated with having a ‘Hedonic’ mindset, which sees them purchase out of pleasure, with an emotional involvement (think retail therapy), and they’re thorough in their decision making. Whilst men tend to have a ‘Utilitarian’ mindset; goal-orientated, practical and purchase to fulfil a need (think buying milk and bread). Of course, it isn’t always as black and white as that; some women may shop with a Utilitarian mindset and some men will have a Hedonic way of thinking, and in certain shopping scenarios there can be a cross over. But, in large studies of male and female shoppers, there are reoccurring, generic behaviours that cannot be ignored.

In bricks-and-mortar retail, most businesses have the psychology behind shopper’s thinking nailed, demonstrated in their store layouts and merchandising. But, when it comes to online, many are failing to optimise their multi-channel eCommerce strategy to appeal to the female shopper. And with it, they’re missing a big opportunity - one that could see sales soar.

Joining this lucrative market requires an understanding of how the hedonic mindset thinks, feels and shops – luckily, we’ve done all the hard work for you! Here are Five key areas to consider to drive sales through your multichannel eCommerce strategy:

1. Social Media

A social media strategy is an absolute must for any business looking to connect with female shoppers, and the key to making it a success is in linking your social accounts to your eCommerce site and vice versa.

Social media creates a sense of personal connection, and is a great way to gauge others’ opinions, both of which female shoppers value. According to “Mindset-Driven Purchasing and the Female Shopper,” 55% of women (that’s more than half of the market) that shop online, buy from a brand they interact with on social media. More than a third of women (36%) regularly share photos and thoughts about new purchases, compared to just over a quarter (28%) of men.

You should start by looking at your multichannel eCommerce strategy and focus on the channels that are likely to deliver results. Ask yourself - which has the most followers? Which is likely to drive traffic to your site? Which is relevant to your target consumer? And which can connect directly to product sales? There is a reason Instagram is popular amongst brands – image sells!

Be proactive in encouraging the use of hashtags to your loyal army of followers when they are posting related content. Not only does it give people a reason to engage, it promotes and builds community collaboration - great for the emotive mindset, that wants to feel a personal connection. Once you’ve done the hard work of building up a following, the rest takes care of itself (well your customers do actually – you can thank them later!).

2. User Generated Content

This next point goes hand in hand with the above. We interact with it daily, and most of us proactively partake; it’s the world we now live in, consisting of Instagram models, Snapchat stars and YouTube producers. It’s the gem that is user-generated content, aka UGC.

Encouraging UGC on your social channels and sharing it on your main site can have impressive results. Furniture giant DFS, reported a 40% increase in conversions from users interacting with UGC, pulled from Instagram and displayed on their website.

American designer, Steve Madden is another brand taking advantage of this sales tool through an ‘Instashop’ (that’s an Instagram shop). Customers that post photos of their recent purchases on Instagram are then displayed on their site, users are able to click the photos to be directed to the product page related to the image. TopShop and AllSaints are incorporating social elements within their sites too, encouraging customers to post their photos directly, and offering a ‘shop the look’ feature.

Top Tip - Choose a tool like Storystream or Olapic, they will take care of the technical side of things by pulling your social feed into your eCommerce website – in particular PDP pages.

3. Trustworthy user reviews

They’ve become an important element of the eCommerce customer experience, and user reviews can make or break a consumer’s decision to purchase. But, this kind of transparency needn’t be feared by brands and retailers, consumers appreciate honesty, and it helps to authenticate brands – essential for winning over the hedonic, female shopper!

According to “Mindset-Driven Purchasing and the Female Shopper,” women spend on average five hours a week browsing retail sites and 91% carry out online research before making a final purchasing decision; with 82% of women preferring to see at least three user reviews per product.

An obvious retailer that does this well is Amazon, with customer feedback at the heart of its shopping experience, generating hundreds, if not thousands, of reviews for products every day. We can all learn from Amazon’s eCommerce strategy to optimise our own!

To get started, brands and retailers should create a customer care strategy for how they will collect and monitor reviews. You will need to plan how they will fit into your site and PDP pages, considering the fit with the overall branding. Ensure they are user-friendly and accessible and consider using star ratings - they are a quick and clever way to summarise the pros and cons for each product.

Shoppers will need encouragement to leave product reviews (especially positive ones!). Incentive schemes are a successful way of doing this, for example, offering consumers 10% of their next order when leaving a review on your site.

4. Beautiful lifestyle imagery

Imagery is a big influencer when shopping online, after all, very few, if any of us, would buy something we haven’t at least seen a picture of first.

Showing multiple images of a product from different viewpoints, or including a 360-degree spin, can increase online sales by 58%, according to “Mindset-Driven Purchasing and the Female Shopper.” Aside from the products themselves, the look and feel of a brand’s website is also an important factor to women when shopping online.

Considering its effectiveness, upskilling your online lifestyle imagery portfolio should be a priority. You should begin by auditing your current imagery – how is it being used and what conversions are you receiving? Create clear briefing documents for shoots, every image should have a purpose and the photography commissioned should meet those objectives. Don’t forget to carefully consider your models, are they in-keeping with your brand image?

5. Engaging and inspiring content

Female shoppers buy when they feel inspired, and brands have the power to do this through relevant, engaging, meaningful content.

Online content can take many different forms; besides imagery and user generated content. Editorial content in the form of articles, blogs and videos can play a key role in engaging the female shopper, increasing dwell time, and will keep them returning to your site.

Net-a-Porter is a stand-out example. The luxury brand publishes Porter, a weekly online women’s lifestyle magazine. This goes beyond uploading a blog to an eCommerce site. Porter is a publication and a sister platform to the Net-a-Porter shopping site. It offers advice on what to buy, uses imagery to inspire looks and styles, and offers in-depth information to help make purchasing decisions.

To be a success, brands need to first create an editorial content strategy, which goes well beyond posting blogs on your site to help boost SEO. This should be on equal footing with a commerce strategy, after all content helps drives the eCommerce customer experience. Content should focus around those items, products, and people that resonate with your female shoppers.

You should also take this opportunity to enhance your influencer marketing strategy – key to engaging and inspiring consumers. Choosing the right partners will accelerate your brand; and your editorial platforms are the perfect place to promote them!

To discover more about the female shopper and how to appeal to the Hedonic mindset online, download the full report.

Download the report