I love independent vinyl music shops. Crate-digging is a favourite past time, but usually on the weekends or when I’m on holiday. In the last few years, any holiday I’ve taken has been planned around a vinyl shopping pilgrimage (Amoeba in San Francisco or OYE and HardWax in Berlin…)
The User Scenario
I was recently alerted to the fact that Ed Sheeran was to play a radio session in the building next door to where I work. While his music is not personally my thing, my younger brother is a fan. With said brother’s birthday fast approaching, I thought it might be a good opportunity to purchase a vinyl copy of his album in the hopes of having it signed.
Into the mainstream commercial chain music/game/dvd outlet, immediately entering the premises I could see the album was clearly available in CD format, but no vinyl was visible on the shelves.
Message was received – they have the album, lots of CD’s, but no vinyl.
On to the next shop.
Down the street to the independent music shop to be greeted by complete confusion. The album I was looking for wasn’t there, and there was no indication that it ever was there, nothing to say that it was sold out, or if I was looking in the right place.
Two very different user experiences in the space of about 10 minutes made me realise just why the commercial store is busier all year round. While I don’t always agree with big retail chains, I will admit that there are a few things they do very well to make the customers user experience easier.
1. Clear, Consistent Navigation.
Whether the customer is a regular shopper, or it is the first time they’ve set foot in the door, being able to find the product is key. The commercial music shop had large signs over the different sections, and indicated that games were downstairs, and DVD’s were upstairs.
When a customer visits your website, they should be able to find the product within seconds. Have logical parent categories clearly accessible from the main navigation, and a logical, coherent information architecture supporting them.
2. Have a ‘What’s New/Popular’ Products
The ‘chart wall’ might be irrelevant in the days of i-tunes, but in the commercial music shop it was one of the first things you can see when you enter. In the run up to Christmas, those shelves will require the most stock replenishment, because when a middle-aged customer is looking for “That Rihanna CD” or “The New Batman Blu-Ray”, a busy staff member can quickly pull a copy from the chart wall.
Having a recommended section is a great way to have your best sellers in clear view, and the customer is confident that they are purchasing the correct item.
3. Help Available if it is Needed
Staff with excellent product knowledge on hand to help shoppers if they don’t know what an album looks like, or even then name of a tv show/film*
4. Product Reviews
It’s not possible to watch a film or listen to an album in a shop anymore… you might need to ask a member of staff if they would recommend it. Even better, some places have a short written description of what the album sounds like.
* From my own experience in a music shop, I used to get people with questions like “do you know the name of that film with yer man… what’s his name…?”