Have you ever gone to Google+ to buy Christmas decorations?
What about cat litter? These were two off the wall questions we came to as we thought about how users interact with Google+ as it pertains to the online shopping experience. Sure everyone does a Google search when researching a major purchase or perhaps for an old Nintendo 64, but what about the valuable information that resides elsewhere?
Try doing an inquiry on Google search for “Christmas decorations”. The amount of ads, information and images can be overwhelming. On the plus side the options feel endless and there is a mix of traditional retailers along with a few unknowns. For the consumer putting their trust in the fulfilment process, including security, of those low-cost unknowns can be risky at times. So perhaps they turn their search to Google+ for some unique ideas. An identical search in Google+ produces an array of results. In the posts area there is quite the mixture of posts between NFL team ornaments, gripes and images of stores with lights up already and nifty DIY articles. One of the advantages of Google+ is that it can alleviate some of that apprehension of the seemingly low-cost unknown retailers. Take for example the designer in Italy selling her handmade lace accessories through Etsy with a link to her online shop shared on Google+. When you see that information about her unique holiday gifts and the link to her store have been commented on so many times and shared amongst other users some of that perceived risk tends to diminish. Now whether or not that designer in Italy has the fulfillment processes in place to receive and execute your order of a lace necklace like a pro is a bit of a roll of the dice but knowing that others have given that Google+ “seal of approval” goes a long way.
This brings us to the much anticipated quest for kitty litter. On Google search the phrase “kitty litter” feels much like our “Christmas decorations” results. Lots of images of cat litter for sale at major online retailers, articles discussing types of cat litter and a news article or two on the subject. Take a look over on Google+ and it feels more like a coffee shop hangout with friends. An animated GIF of a cat giving a lady a massage, a few funny #caturday references, and of course many, many images of cute kittens everywhere. This again is the ideal environment for a business small or large to gain a foothold. Of all the possible contenders one small retailer in the mid-west of the United States stood out. By consistently posting varied, engaging content (“How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you” pulls me in!) such as hilarious articles and cute images it makes the occasional link to the business website with product giveaways and coupons feel less spammy. Besides who doesn’t like high-quality, free cat litter! Now this retailer does appear to have a proven fulfillment system with its product in distribution throughout the US and available for purchase through the website. Perhaps one day we will order some just to test it out!
Whether you are shopping for Mario Brothers or Christmas decorations; a necklace or a cat toy the place you start that search from online tells a bit about where the search will take you. Maybe you start out in Google search and find exactly what you need. Or perhaps your search takes you to Google+ where you see a meme of a cat referencing ”Breaking Bad” and you end up on a retailer’s blog. Wherever the search takes you so long as the purchase environment you end up in is one that makes you feel safe, secure and taken care of as a customer is all that matters.