How to sell to women shopping online
Women’s spending power and online shopping are both seeing a meteoric rise, and changing consumer brands forever. Women account for 80% of consumer spending, both as the main purchasers or those who influence the purchase. This is as true of toothpaste as it is of real estate. Even if she is not the main earner in a family, can you even imagine a husband buying a home that his wife does not want to live in?
While the consumer is most often female, the executive is most often male. The majority of chief executives and chief marketing officers are men, and women occupy just 3% of all chief creative positions in advertising agencies. This means that the people making and selling products are very often different from the people whose wallets they are hoping to reach.
This is important because “gender is the most powerful determinant of how a person views the world and everything in it. It’s more powerful than age, income, race or geography,” says Bridget Brennan, marketing expert and author of Why She Buys.
Digital environments are also still mostly built and financed by men. Women account for 8% of decision-making roles in venture capital funds, and just 16% of chief technology officers. This means that digital products get created without taking the emotional and physical needs of women into account. A great example is when Apple released its Apple Watch with a tracker for alcohol intake, but without a period tracker. Both money and embarrassment would have been spared had the team at Apple wondered how women might use their product.
If you are selling anything, then taking account of women’s needs can make you more money. As more and more consumer spend goes online, creating online environments and digital products which appeal to women is an opportunity to for more revenue and vocal, loyal customers.
Create a community
Studies have shown that the limbic system, which is which is responsible for emotional bonding, is bigger in women than in men. This could explain why women place a high value on community and connection. If you create a community where women come together to learn, inspire each other and connect, they are more likely to spend and come back for more.
Houzz, a platform connecting users, experts and brands in interior design, is an excellent example of how an online community has grown into a company valued at over $4 billion today. Users upload their questions and photos for the community and experts to answer, and see how other people have done up their homes. Houzz began as an online platform and now has pop up locations, which further strengthen the community.
Show how the product fits into her real life
As Brennon says, women respond better to product benefits, whereas men respond better to specifications. For example, saying that an oven is 20 inches wide is less useful than saying it fits a large pizza.
This is visible in the rise of influencers as marketers, because women want to see how other women are using products. A micro influencer explaining how to style a dress to go from the office to a date is often going to do a better job than a Madison Avenue advertising executive.
To sell online, show your product and have a section of photographs and stories of how other people have used it or worn it. To incentivize your customers to send in their stories, do not only give them a discount code, but also emphasize that their stories will help other people. This ties into the need for emotional bonding and creates communities, as well as shows happy customers.
Have a personal touch
Given how much women value community and communication, it is important to have access to real humans online. This is especially true for high value items and luxury ecommerce. Either add a window where the customer can ask a question, or have a clearly visible button to contact the team, with an expected response time.
Since this may be unaffordable for high volume low margin items, this is where community questions can be a viable option. Customer questions can often be dealt with by other members of your community. As long as you have clear community guidelines and oversight from a community manager, you do not need to answer every question, but your customer will get the human touch she needs to make her purchase.
Online shopping and women’s spending power are two seismic shifts, happening simultaneously and changing every consumer industry. Yet even companies like Apple forget to take the basic needs of women into account. By thinking about women’s needs when building digital products and platforms, you can stand out from the competition, and win her love and money.