It’s all about the customer experience in commerce; personalized, customizable experiences. Companies are constantly thinking of new ways to make online shopping experiences as fun and seamless as possible. So what does veganism have to do with non-food related online shopping experiences? A lot more than you may realize.
Hopefully, there isn’t a single online grocery site out there that hasn’t taken the vegan demographic into consideration when creating the filters, search categories or product attributes in their PIM (Product catalogue)… But it certainly hasn’t been considered by many retailers in the beauty, apparel and home decor verticals. Before we move forward, let’s get one thing clear – we’re not here to discuss the principles behind veganism. This is all about providing great customer experiences to online shoppers and the importance of knowing their habits and meeting their expectations via personalization.
How does veganism come into play if you’re not selling food?
As you may or may not know, vegans are opposed to the use of animals for any purpose. So when they’re looking at non-food items, the following materials along with animal-testing are avoided:
- Wool (shearling, cashmere, angora…)
- Feathers (down, duck…)
- Animal-based bonding agents & dyes
It’s clear how this list of things to avoid could present a big barrier in having a pleasant online shopping experience for vegans, as these materials are found in countless product categories. Here’s the situation vegans often encounter upon visiting an ecommerce website:
- There is no search filter for ‘vegan’ at the start of their experience (in the main menu for example)
- Doing a search for ‘vegan’ yields zero results
- There isn’t even a filter to select the material(s) of their choice within product categories
Imagine shopping online for a new pair of sneakers or a handbag and having to scroll through an endless number of product photos, closely examining each for their composition and often having to read the descriptions to be certain materials aren't used. And it's not only vegans who experience this! People with allergies and personal preferences also apply.
Why don’t they just search on Google first?
That’s fair, but if they turned to your enterprise’s website to shop, as their first choice, why risk losing them due to poor search results? Plus, odds are that if they do a Google search they will end up on a competitor’s site, one who caught on to the opportunity of serving the needs of the vegan demographic. Remember, your store/products won’t show up in their search if you don’t use vegan-related keywords. Online-only retailers and social commerce websites like Etsy, Polyvore and Lyst all provide a heavenly shopping experience for vegans – but that’s in part thanks to the handful of innovative merchandisers out there who stay on top of their game with product attributes and descriptions that have been optimized to capture this segment of shoppers.
Are there really that many vegans out there?
Yes. A rapidly growing number of people are opting for this lifestyle, whether for ethical, environmental or dietary reasons.
This snapshot from Google Trends demonstrates the growing interest for the term ‘vegan’.
A - Add the vegan attribute to products via your PIM and include material search filters with prefilled options (like cotton, nylon, canvas, etc.) for product categories that apply, and almost all do.
B – Give shoppers the option to select ‘Vegan’ at the start of their journey on your website so that their entire experience, regardless of the product category, will be items that fit their requirements. Similar to selecting ‘Sale’ and then being able to navigate categories while only seeing items on sale.
Whichever method you choose as a solution, it’s a must in 2016 to consider the shopping expectations of the fast-growing vegan demographic. Eco-friendly, fair-trade, cruelty-free, child-labor-free… These are the growing concerns of more and more consumers. If companies don’t address these growing populations, they risk losing loyal customers as well as losing a lot of potential sales.
The businesses that will survive and thrive in a world of rapidly evolving consumer shopping habits are those that know their customers and prove they care by offering them products that matter to them.