Ecommerce has existed for 20 years, yet still only accounts for ~20% of the total market in the United States. Online shopping has many benefits — it’s convenient and the choices are almost limitless. Brick and mortar was declared dead at the dawn of ecommerce, and yet, shoppers are still making more purchases in-store than they are online.
By comparison, ecommerce was a major unlock for aspiring entrepreneurs. Opening a Brand used to require capital for a location, store associates, utilities, not to mention inventory. But the internet and the launch of platforms like Shopify made setting up an online store simple and easy. With those capital-heavy barriers to entry removed — in addition to the emergence of supporting technologies — thousands of new Brands launched their virtual stores, and even today’s largest big box retailers have invested heavily in their online experience to stay competitive.
Launching a business online is easy, but growing one is still an uphill battle.
There is one key structural issue that ecommerce Brands face that restricts growth.
Buying before trying increases cart abandonment
When we shop in a store, we can use all of our senses to evaluate the quality of a product. We can see the fabric, feel the texture, sit on the mattress, slip on the denim, and these are all experiences the retailer allows us to have before we commit to a purchase. When we check out, we’re confident because we know we are purchasing something we love.
But when we shop online, we’re robbed of that sensory experience. Pictures and copy can only tell us so much, and it’s not enough to build trust. Doubt creeps in and we wonder:
- Will this high-rise denim fit in the waist?
- How can I be sure this swimsuit will be flattering?
- Is this tailored shirt worth the price tag?
- How soft is this cashmere sweater?
- What shade is this dress in natural light?
Uncertainty is the enemy of ecommerce.
When we shop online, we’re forced to pay in the face of our uncertainty. We have to buy before we can try. If we don’t feel confident with our purchase, we don’t check out. Uncertainty causes millions of shoppers to abandon their carts every day. Thousands of Brands lose an opportunity to delight a customer with a quality product, and shoppers are left empty-handed. What could have been a perfect match is a missed connection.
Brick and mortar retail has trained shoppers to expect to try items before they buy them, but the online shopping model doesn’t allow for this natural behavior. Finding something to love is not easy through a screen.
Fitting rooms and showrooms are the levers that retailers have to provide shoppers with the experience they expect, and the confidence they need to check out. So what can ecommerce Brands do to meet shoppers where they’re at?
The solution is simple. Let shoppers try items at home and only pay for what they keep.