How to create the instore feeling online

A person browsing a website on a tablet.

The power of an aesthetically pleasing store

Have you ever walked past a window display so beautiful that you just had to quickly duck in and check it out?

When the packaging alone makes you want to hand over your money just so you can keep the box forever? Or you wish you could live in a store because it’s oh-so-pretty? (Mr and Mrs White, we’re looking at you!)

The question is, how can you create this feeling online when all you have is a computer screen and no way for the customer to touch, feel or smell your products?

We put our thinking caps on and created our top tips for improving your online shopping experience:

Keep your website tidy and clean

Less is more. Even the most colourful brands stick to core shades (e.g. Ruby Olive).

Show your products in their best light

Keep all images consistent

Consistent photography is crucial. Low budget? Use your phone! High-resolution settings, natural light and apps like Lightroom make it totally doable.

Use images with a removed or plain background

Our studies show that plain product shots with a transparent or white (or block coloured) background are likelier to be clicked.
We know you put a lot of effort, time and potentially money into your styled shots, but to get that initial click, simple is better.

The decision whether someone is interested in a product or not is made subconsciously within split seconds and it’s much easier for our brains to process what we’re looking at if unnecessary information is removed. All you need is people to click! Once they’re on the product page, you can show your beautifully styled images and give more information on the product (dimensions, materials, etc.).

Take product shots with a plain white background or send your products to to remove the background for you (for as little as $1 per image). Or try Camva Pro to remove backgrounds yourself.

Use lifestyle images

Throughout your website and as secondary images on your product pages, lifestyle shots, such as your prints hanging in a living room or a model wearing your earrings, are the way to go. They not only look pretty and create a nice look and feel, they also helps people imagine something for themselves and provide an understanding of size.

Include images of the packaging

Take images of the packaging and shoot your products from different angles.

Consider adding short videos

Videos are awesome to add to your homepage, product pages and of course use for marketing purposes, for example of someone using and experiencing the product (great for beauty or fashion products).

Tell a little story in your product descriptions

Paint a picture and get people’s imagination going (make them feel something). 
E.g. ‘This is the perfect comfy chair to relax in after a big week with a book and a beautiful cup of tea. The ultimate me-time spot – you’ll never want to get up!.’

Check out this post for some ideas.

Create themed categories

Show which products go together or sort them by events/seasons, for example ‘Christmas Gifts’, ‘Living Room Accessories’ or ‘Breezy Sunday Morning Collection’.

Using Visual Merchandiser apps/plugins, you can even rearrange the order of your products to group them.

Make checkout simple and secure

You want to make sure people feel comfortable and safe. It’s important to minimise clicks and steps and offer a guest checkout for a seamless experience.

Also consider offering a variety of trusted payment options, such as PayPal, Afterpay and Klarna.

Offer a generous returns policy

This adds trust and might just be what someone needs to finally order from you.
People often worry about “What if I don’t like the product?” or “What if it’s not as nice as it looks in the picture?”. If they know they can return something easily, they are more likely to try it.

If you sell products that can’t be resold once opened (e.g. food or beauty products), we still recommend to offer returns. You’ll find that most people won’t return and for the handful that do, you’ll have made many sales that you otherwise might not have.

Offer free shipping!

This is super important and we’ll be frank here: People are spoilt and don’t like to pay for shipping. It feels like wasted money. It’s not what they signed up for.

If you struggle to carry shipping costs, consider this:
Imagine if someone looked at your product and consciously decided to spend $50 on it.
Then they get to checkout and are presented with a $60 total because shipping has been added – it does not feel good and it is not what they decided to spend. 

However, if the product were $59.95 with free shipping, they would have probably just as likely decided that they wanted to buy it. In addition, they’ll feel like they’re winning at checkout when they see the words ‘free shipping’. 

If your items are all at a low price point (ie. under $30), experiment with creating themed bundles, offering bulk discounts, or setting a free shipping threshold, ie. ‘free shipping over $49’.

Lastly, you might want to reconsider your pricing structure, perhaps you’re simply not charging enough money for your products.

Provide upsell options

Offer products that would be a nice addition to what someone selected either on product pages or at checkout (you can use apps/plugins for this).

Think about when you’re in a store and the shop assistant offers you the perfect top to go with your new skirt – it makes you feel good and solves the problem of finding something to wear with your new piece.

Next: You can extend the instore experience beyond your website by creating a stellar unboxing experience. Read this article to find out how.

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