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Friday, Dec. 7, 2007 at 6:00 pm

Screencast: Making Online Gift Shopping Easier

By Anthony Garcia
December 7th, 2007

from Etsy.comAlthough the idea of shopping for gifts online sounds easy, too many e-commerce sites make it more difficult than it should be. Sure, you could buy a gift card for everyone on your list, but what does a piece of plastic really say about how you feel? What ends up happening when customers give these unoriginal “gifts” is that they end up sending friends and family back to the same websites that didn’t inspire them to buy something cool in the first place — and the whole cycle of “Hmm… what should I buy?” starts over.

In this edition of Screencast, I’ll show you how some e-tailers are helping their online shoppers navigate the gift-giving season, while others are, well, let’s just say they’re hoping to receive (your money). For instance, WalMart.com doesn’t seem to do anything special to help gift shoppers. Meanwhile, Etsy.com — a site where independent clothing designers and artisans from around the world their wares — proves you don’t need a Wal-Mart-sized budget to sort merchandise into gift guides for the customer. BarnesAndNoble.com has a nice gift guide that helps you find gifts to match the person’s style, but good luck finding it; their guide is hidden in drop-down menus and poorly phrased navigation buttons. Amazon.com does it best, and although there’s room for improvement, as you’ll see, they engage gift shoppers front-and-center on the homepage (a smart thing to do in December) and they do a good job of limiting choices. That’s right. When it comes to deciding between gifts, less is definitely more more — just be sure to show them things they’ll like.

Our gift to e-tailers? How about some holiday bonus tips:

  • Provide a Gift Buying Guide
  • Overcome “analysis paralysis” by limiting choice
  • Allow customers to shop THEIR way…
    • By relationship
    • By “most popular
    • By price
    • By characteristic (i.e., type of gift)
    • ASK your customers how they would like gifts sorted


(If video doesn’t load, click here.)

There you have it! Sort. Categorize. Limit their choices to stuff that’s relevant, and let that momentum pull them toward the sale. And do yourself a favor: Don’t wait until Cyber Monday ’08 to help gift shoppers spend their money on you. Engage them directly by using language and navigation that address their needs right away. And if you’re still leaving cash on the table, make a resolution to get help.

[Special thanks to Conversion Analyst Ron Patiro for his help finding these examples.]

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Comments (4)

  1. Nice post! Agree with Seth Godin that gift cards are not a great gift idea. However, it is a tough choice to make- Which would you rather get- ten gift cards or ten Ipods? I am confused!

  2. For the first time ever, I did almost all my holiday shopping online, and it was a lot tougher than I thought it would be.

    Though I would definitely agree that Amazon does a great job. I went there with no idea what I was looking for, and ended up buying more than I intended to because of its recommendations. Love the Etsy.com gift guide, though I didn’t come across anything like that in my shopping experiences!

    Thanks for the insight!

  3. The best thing amazon did was to offer super sales for a limited time on specific gift products.

  4. Making online shopping easier is really the best part of a solid customer experience.

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