"If supermarkets were designed like Web sites, milk and bread would be at the front of the store."
February 25, 2000 3:28 AM   Subscribe

"If supermarkets were designed like Web sites, milk and bread would be at the front of the store." Instead, he thinks commercial web sites should put the most popular items deep so you have to "walk" past other items. If the entrance to fifty other stores was always within two steps, no matter where you were within the store, stores wouldn't be organized that way! How could someone at IBM make such a fundamental error?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste (6 comments total)
"At the low end, they're aiming at the self-help types, who know what they're doing and are ready to buy on the Web, don't need a lot of handholding and can make their own decisions about services"
The same web-savvy people who'll see straight through such an obvious ploy and who'll be put off by 'Buy this too' popups when they've already made their descision about what they need.
posted by Markb at 4:18 AM on February 25, 2000

Good observation, Steven. In New York City, the "milk in the back corner" tactic doesn't work: the shopping options are abundant, and convenience becomes a factor. Indeed, milk is usually in the first or second aisle closest to the entrance -- still in the back, mind you, but there's no fuss or confusion involved.

If the supermarket down the block "hid" its staples, I (and many of my neighbors, no doubt) would just go to the bodega next door. Same thing applies online.
posted by werty at 6:45 AM on February 25, 2000

To play devil's advocate...I checked out a study a couple of days ago, posted on some other log, that talked about the power of branding on the web. Basically, it said that there's a "cost" users pay in switching online e-commerce sites -- if you order from Amazon all the time, it costs you something, in general hassle and in peace of mind, to order something from CDNow. So the one-time $20 coupons a lot of places offer make sense -- they compensate people for the investment they have to make when they order from a new site.

Relevance here, I guess, would be that if you make it slightly more difficult to order from your shop, but not much more, you can capture more sales. Users will get annoyed at the extra clicking, but it's not quite worth it to them to go elsewhere, once they've gotten comfortable at your site.
posted by lbergstr at 10:27 AM on February 25, 2000

Guess I'll avoid use of the paragraph tag from now on...
posted by lbergstr at 10:27 AM on February 25, 2000

If I could get in and out of a supermarket more quickly, I'd spend more money at supermarkets and less at fast-food places (and probably weigh at least 50 pounds less).

posted by harmful at 1:28 PM on February 25, 2000

When I come to a badly organized site where it's hard for me to navigate or find what it is that I want, I leave....immediately. I don't need to waste my time on a site when there are so many others options out there. Leave it to the marketing geniuses to "improve" the web for the good of the consumer....
posted by Ms Snit at 6:18 PM on February 25, 2000

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