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Mar 21, 2019 | 3 minute read

The Fine Line of Retail Therapy: Make it Easy for Shoppers

written by Lindsay Moore


Today’s shoppers have thousands of brand choices, and their communication channels are bombarded daily by marketers for things that are mostly irrelevant to them in that moment. Our inboxes are full thousands of promotional emails that likely only get opened when we want to see if there’s a discount code buried in the pile. Making matters worse for retailers, once a shopper finds a brand they like for a particular want, it’s easy to find alternate brands. Getting through the noise is hard enough for retailers. Making it all the way to “Complete Order” is like crossing a field of landmines. But it’s easy to forget that consumers face their own landmines shopping.

Shopping is emotional, something that retailers have capitalized on for decades.

Everything from the design and smell of a store to the concept of a flash sale plays into the emotional response of shoppers to drive a purchase. Consumers are aware of the emotional affect. It’s called ‘retail therapy’ for a reason. Multiple studies have documented that making a material purchase releases serotonin and makes you happy. It’s even more pronounced in shoppers who are stressed. A Huffington Post survey showed that one in three Americans actively seeks out shopping to relieve stress.

Shopping isn’t all upside for consumers though. There’s a fine line between a positive or negative emotional reaction. At any point, the scales they can tip. Think about your shopping experiences. Have you ever given up on something you were close to buying, or actually need, because there were too many choices? I have. It’s called choice paralysis. We want choices, but not too many. When there is an overwhelming number of choices, it causes stress. Even if we do purchase the product, the emotional effects of choice paralysis can last post-purchase. It can stir ‘buyer’s remorse’ and actually override the happy effects from the purchase. Anyone shopping to relieve stress has just increased their overall stress level simply because of a frustrating lack of direction.

There are dozens of other factors that influence a shopper’s emotions as they interact with a brand that are more surface level – inability to find the right product, not being able the purchase the product you want, and especially waiting (for anything). This puts retailers in a precarious position. Shoppers are looking for an emotional high, but there are a lot of factors that can swing that experience from positive to negative. Retailers have to make it seamless for shoppers, which is easier said than done. Creating that inspiring moment for shoppers where they actively move towards a purchase is a challenge in itself; then making it easy to complete the purchase adds another layer of complexity. Multiply that across the numerous arenas that shoppers engage with your brand you’ve got a big task. To give shoppers the emotional pick-me-up experience, retailers have to meet the customer where they are – in-store, online, social media. When brands do this, they create shoppable moments that fit effortlessly into consumers’ hectic lives.

Greg Lord, VP Marketing at Elastic Path, and I are hosting a fireside chat to discuss how retailers are inspiring shoppers and enabling a seamless purchase no matter where they are. Join us Thursday, March 28th at 1 PM ET.

About Lindsay Moore: Lindsay manages Zmags’ partnership strategy across all agencies, system integrators and tech partners. This includes partnerships with major ecommerce platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, SAP Hybris, Magento, IBM WebSphere, Shopify, Elastic Path, BigCommerce, and Oracle.  Through these technology alliances, Lindsay helps customers layer rich, no-coding-needed content into their powerful ecommerce platforms to drive new revenue. In addition to her work at Zmags, Lindsay is currently on the partner advisory board for Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Lindsay holds a B.A. in economics from Wellesley College.


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