I defy you to tell me what distinguishes the websites of these three major retailers from each other. In fact – with the mastheads removed as they are below – I am willing to bet that even people who work for these companies would have a hard time telling which site is theirs.
That’s because, like so many companies doing business online, they are in an echo chamber where they compete on price. That is a zero sum game.
Someone is always going to be willing to sell for less. Yet, people will – even in this economy – pay more for something they perceive to have higher value.
None of these major retailers’ sites have any sign of people who’ll help customers. None has a single sign of community, social shopping, reviews by consumers, or any indication that people run this company and that they care about customers.
None of these sites has a clear message or a personality that explains its point of view.
If just one of these sites had a sense of humor, or asked the question “How can we make your shopping experience fun, fast and easy today?” it would be easier to believe that change really is taking place online.
People absolutely want bargains and sales now, but that’s not all we want. We want to do business with companies that come across as human, not corporate entities.
Technology has enabled every with consumer the ability to talk to other consumers, to get instant feedback not only about price, but also about service. Companies need to orchestrate and take into account the channels open to customers. By time we get to your website, we’ve checked out a series of sources and opinions, and so stores need to reach out and persuade consumers.
But first they need to get out of the echo chamber.