I’ll buy more, just give me a roadmap!

April 3, 2018By Behind the Shelf Blog, Future of Retail

by Jen Johnston, CHHC, senior marketing services account manager 

There are some people who love to shop. They love the thrill of the find and relish building their own clever solutions, whether it’s their wardrobe or home furnishings. They have the time for this and trust in their ability to put together meaningful combinations.

I am not one of those people. I have neither time nor trust in my ability to figure out the best solutions. I definitely want to rely on experts. When planning to repaint the interior of our house, I stood in front of the paint samples at the store looking like a deer in headlights. I just wanted full-house palette ideas. When I went to purchase new clothes after a recent weight loss, I didn’t want to waste my time trying to figure out what worked together. I wanted a retailer that could provide me with a capsule (or “mix and match”) wardrobe.

Call me lazy, but I really don’t want to do the legwork. I like the convenience of shopping online, but the experience for the most part makes me crazy. I feel like shouting at the computer just give me a roadmap, I’ll buy more! I can’t be the only one.

Here’s an example of a “roadmap” from REI—anyone taking up backpacking can get a great list of the necessary items: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpacking-checklist.html. Only a few things could improve the experience for me.

  • First, I would love it if this text-based list was, instead, a visual scene and I could click on the items , maybe even adding my own to the picture. (A “visual wish list.”)
  • Second, I’d like to know more about the expert who came up with this list—are they a naturalist? How long have they been backpacking?
  • And third, I would like to understand their rationale. (Why did altimeter make the list?)

Now, let’s say I want to set up the “perfect” kid’s playroom and I log on to Amazon to look for toys. My dream shopping experience is to be able to pick one or more themes such as Waldorf, Montessori, STEM, new releases, imaginative play, minimalist, Mickey Mouse. Then I’d like to pick my children’s ages and genders. And suddenly an image of a playroom would appear with all the toys an expert has deemed is the right mix for me. I’d learn a little bit about the so-called expert (perhaps a Waldorf teacher in the case of the image below.) and why those particular toys were included.map

Let’s take this idea a little further. Let’s say someone is caring for a loved one with a certain health condition, like diabetes. Imagine a product road map that textually or visually linked them to all the products a certified diabetes educator deemed are necessary. I would be willing to bet products would appear on that list that the person didn’t even know existed but would either make caring for their loved one easier or help their loved one be more comfortable.

E-commerce sites can certainly accomplish this, but so can brick and mortar. All they need is a solid app! I hope 10 years from now I look back on this blog post reflecting on how far the shopping experience has come. Give me a roadmap and I will buy!