Six Functional Parts, The Home Page

The home page sets the shopper’s expectations for the rest of the site and lays out the framework. The home page performs the following jobs:

Store Framework

The store framework—or page layoutsets the expectations for the customer for each subsequent page within the website. It usually consists of the top banner of the store, the left navigational bars, the primary content area (middle), and often has a third column on the right side used typically for advertisements. The top banner and left navigational areas are usually consistent throughout the remainder of the store.

To help the customer remain oriented in the site, there are static elements that start on the home page and then remain constant. For example, the company logo and top of the page identification banner help ground the shopper in the store even though page content changes.

Company Information

The company name, logo, and positioning statement are important informational elements. In addition, a toll-free number provides another means to order or to ask questions and should be readily noticeable and available on the home page and all other pages of the store.

A link to a company information area will provide the company name, address, telephone number, parent company, and a key contact name. It may tell a little about the company itself, how long it has been in business, the types of markets it serves, and the range of products it produces. There may be a photo of the main office to establish credibility. This area can reinforce the value proposition and reassure customers that they will get the promised quality, service, or other attribute when they order.

Text, Color Schemes, Images, Copy and Virtual Bundles

Virtual Bundles—E-kits

Special product bundles have been a retail strategy to stimulate sales. Bundles consist of two or more products or a product with a special offer. At retail, physical bundles are created by putting two or more products into the same box or by strapping the products together to form a "hard" bundle. A new SKU number is created and assigned to the new "package" so it can be stocked, inventoried, and merchandised.

Online stores have an advantage over retail because they can create "virtual" bundles. Virtual bundles put the products or special offers together on the product detail page—the online "package." The virtual bundle is also assigned a new SKU number. Fulfillment can be notified to "pick and pack" those items that make up the bundle. Virtual bundles save on production costs and labor, because a physical hard-bundled product is not required. A hard bundle is created virtually through putting the separate items into the same shipping box.

These elkits require special merchandising treatments, however, because they are mot physically bundled items in one package. New photos may be required to show the bundle contents. All product categories are eligible for bundling. Dresses with handbags, crafts with tools, printers with cartridges, and dog food with dog toys are a few combinations. Bundles are limited only by the imagination and distribution capabilities. Bundles provide you a competitive advantage by providing "new" exclusive items for your target customers.

The Online Shopper

Shopping process hierarchies depend on the purchase purpose, and the online store needs to address these purposes. Generally, for those shoppers who already know what they want to purchase, the process is simple and similar online to the retail process. The process normally features the following steps:

The other two types of shoppers may shop randomly. The browsing third is enticed by link, an ad, an end cap, or another promotional device. This shopper will move randomly around the store to see what is offered. The information shopper is more specific in searches and may look in catalogs, search at retail, or investigate on the web.

When Michael was seeking a specific product, he was not interested in the distraction of a pop -up advertisement. Yet, when he was looking for a vacation spot, the pop-up window did not bother him. In fact, he quite enjoyed it. He wasn’t waiting for a client, and he had plenty of time before needing to book reservations for his vacation.