Ecommerce Frustration Not Sold in StoresEvery once in awhile I blog about one of my personal online shopping experiences and what worked or didn’t work about the experience. Today is going to be one of those days.

So, I’m looking for a new “commuter” backpack that will be big enough to hold my gym clothes, plus my iPad and wallet and other necessary items for my daily commute to and from the office with a stop at the gym along the way.

I found the perfect backpack during the school supply rush this fall, but passed on it thinking I had one at home that I could make work. Needless to say, the one at home wasn’t big enough and so I’m back on the prowl for the perfect bag.

Now that the shelves are bare of fall school supplies and all that’s left on the shelves of most stores are laptop-specific backpacks, I figured I would go online and find the bag I needed pretty quickly. My intention was to do my research online and then, hopefully, buy the bag at a local retailer ASAP and not have to wait for shipping. In short, I was doing online research with the intent of buying in-store. I thought it would be easy.

Not so.

Today I was researching bags on the ecommerce site of a retailer that has physical stores in my area. I quickly realized that whether an item is available in-store or online-only wasn’t readily available on the category page, which I found to be rather frustrating.

See exhibit A.

Ecommerce Frustration Not Sold in Stores Exhibit A

I would find a bag that I liked and when I got to the product detail page to learn more about the item, I’d find out that the item was not available in store. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but today I was on a mission and was hoping to have a bag in hand tonight.

Now, what I didn’t see until well into writing this post is this:

Ecommerce Frustration Not Sold in Stores Exhibit A 1

There at the bottom of the faceted search nav was the option to choose whether or not to view items that are only available online. Finding this nifty little filter earlier would have quickly limited my selection from 646 bags to 46 bags available in store.

Unfortunately, by the time I found this option, I was already very frustrated and had moved onto another retailer who showed me exactly what I wanted to see right on the product category page.

See exhibit B.

Ecommerce Frustration Not Sold in Stores Exhibit B

While the second retailer’s prices are significantly higher than the first, I can immediately determine which bags are only available online and which are available in-store. What’s more, Retailer #2 also allows me to check the stock status of the bag I like at my preferred store, saving me the hassle of calling to see or driving out and finding that it’s not available.

Chances are good that Retailer #2 will get my business.

The moral of the story? Make it easy to tell which items are available in-store and which are only available online.

If you are going to sell some of your products online-only and others both in-store and online,  know that your consumer is doing research on your ecommerce site with the intention of crossing over to buy from a local store. Make sure that your ecommerce site encourages this behavior–rather than encouraging the consumer to find another online retailer that helps them buy what they are looking for.

To learn more about how to maximize the success of your ecommerce site and increase your company’s overall sales, download the white paper, Increasing the Cart: Creating a Personalized Ecommerce Shopping Experience.