Shopping Guru: Retailers Clueless About Serving Online Customers

Behavioral researcher Paco Underhill has spent his career studying consumer behavior, and has documented it in best-sellers like “Why We Buy.” His real business, though, is advising corporate clients through his Envirosell consulting firm. And he has some very bad news for them. Retailers, he said in a recent interview, are clueless about such basic niceties as offering price-matching in their online and physical stores, and providing a seamless experience between the two shopping venues.

The Wall Street Journal spoke to Underhill, and he told the paper:

Too many retailers, he said in a recent interview with this blog, treat shoppers like they did back in the early boom days of department stores, before technology enabled consumers to easily compare prices and products elsewhere. Many retailers, [Underhill] said, treat mall shopping and online shopping as entirely different things — as if their customers don’t actually do both.

Retailers … need to re-think the way they sell to consumers who will be researching and browsing both on the Web and in the store. On a basic level, that means being consistent about prices, and using common visual merchandising and signage both online and offline. Instead of fighting against shoppers who check product reviews and prices in store on cellphones, make sure that the store has a good 3G signal available so they can do it quickly.

Underhill warns that retailers have to “create seamless links between online and the store” to succeed.

Shopping Scientist Paco Underhill Tackles Online Retail [WSJ]