Increasing Usability for Virtual Store Buying – Danger or Dream Come True?

With the introduction of virtual stores by Tesco in the subways of South Korea, the trend of shopping has changed completely. These virtual stores come with many advantages for the busy people in the bustling cities of the world. They have truly added to the ease of shopping, which was initially provided by e-commerce on the Web. However, being a new technology, there are many doubts that are attached to its working. Is Virtual Store Buying Good for You? When you are in a virtual store, you only see the pictures of the product and not the actual product. You assume that you are going to get the best quality when delivered. However, in case of groceries this could be a tricky expectation. The freshness of the products is important and when you visit an offline store you get a better look at the product. So there is no perceived quality when you are buying offline. Therefore, companies have to make sure that the consumers get the quality which they expect. How Virtual Stores Improve Usability of Mobile E-Commerce? Virtual stores are different from many websites which offer mobile e-commerce. They provide a better view of the products which are for sale. Consumers are able to make more informed decision as they see the items more clearly, which is not possible usually on small mobile screens. Normally, while engaging in mobile shopping, due to limited bandwidth, there are hiccups in the whole process. However, with virtual stores, as the mobile app integrates the complete process of communication, making a purchase is much easier despite low bandwidth. How Can the Usability of Virtual Store Buying Be Improved? Tesco will always be credited for transforming the mobile e-commerce market by opening virtual stores in Seoul subways. However, there are other companies like Ocado in the UK, who have opened physical stores where consumers can browse through different products and order online from a physical store. in India has opened virtual stores in Café Coffee Day outlets in Bangalore and Delhi. All of these virtual stores are different in some ways. However, they can improve their usability if they follow the suggestions given below. 1. Streamline the Store Front It is important to organize the store front in a better way. QR or bar codes should be placed below the product so that they can be clearly captured by the smartphone. They should be placed where they are easily visible and properly recognized. In the virtual store, the shelves should be stocked with different varieties of the same product, this will make the consumers feel that the product is available in good quantity and create a feeling that it must be a highly popular product. This perception of popularity will increase the chances of the consumer to buy that product from the store front. The design of the selves and their looks should make the consumers feel that they are standing in front of a real store. This would increase their confidence in buying from the virtual store front. 2. Increase Perceived Trust When the consumers start to run through the virtual store they should be able to find all of the items easily without too much searching. To achieve this, items should be placed following the same pattern which is presented in an actual store. If consumers get the feeling that they are shopping in a real supermarket, they would automatically start trusting the whole store just like they trust any regular supermarket of their choice. 3. Boost Perceived Service Quality When consumers start to order, the experience should be smooth from the very first step. Capturing the QR or bar code should be easy. The mobile app should recognize the product instantly and an item should be added to the basket immediately. If the steps involved are performed without any problems, then the chances are high that consumers would believe that the product will reach their address on time. 4. Expand Product Offerings It is important that you should give the consumers all they need in one place. The idea of a virtual store is to save the consumer’s trip to regular stores. However, if, due to some product, they have to drive all the way to a regular store, then they would rather buy everything there. Therefore, it is necessary to give them a healthy selection of products to choose. 5. Reduce Delivery Times When shopping in a virtual store consumers need to place their orders in the morning to get then by evening. This is big time gap and retailers should reduce this time gap, so that the consumers who buy products in the evening can get their delivery quickly. Photo source: ExtremeTech