Design, aesthetics, and visual appeal are important aspects of creating an exceptional shopping experience for consumers visiting a website. The look and feel of a company’s site speaks to who they are as a brand, and what type of customer they want to attract.
Of course, we all know beauty is only skin deep, so a site’s functionality and ease of use must be as effortless as the way it looks.
Recently, in an effort to offer a more welcoming environment, we redesigned our site to enhance our customer’s shopping experience and to create a message of, “Welcome. We’re glad you’ve arrived. Please stay a while.” Now, the site is brighter, more picturesque, and appealing (if I may say so myself).
But transforming the aesthetics of NajaTea.com was only the beginning of the process to enhance our customer’s shopping experience and expand our reach to a larger tea audience. We are competing in a growing market for tea sales and know that in order to get and keep our share of loose-leaf tea consumers, we must know what these consumers want and how we can give it to them.
Many years ago, I was introduced to a philosophy known as Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning improvement or change for the better, or literally change (kai) to become good (zen). Kaizen is a philosophy that focuses on continuous and never-ending improvement and, in business, involves all employees from the head of a company to the cleaning staff.
Though Kaizen is actually a way-of-life philosophy, it was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after the Second World War, influenced in part by American business and quality-management teachers who visited the country.
This way of working resonated so much with me that I use it within my own company (and in my own life). Recently, we decided to introduce our customers to Kaizen, and to extend the conversation of “change for the better” to address their personal desires and concerns with our products and services. We sent ten questions to our online customers asking for their help in improving our online shopping experience. Fifteen percent of those invited responded, and their comments gave us insight into how to improve.
Ninety-two percent of those who responded noted the quality of our product as “Very High”. This was a nice pat on our back and something that validated that we’re on the right track with our offerings. But we didn’t send the survey out to have our egos massaged. As great (and important) as that information was, it was the criticism that has helped us make the most improvement to the site.
Many responses focused on the cost of shipping being exorbitant. When my company first launched, we analyzed our shipping standards and felt we were competitive in that area. But this new information took us back to the drawing board, where we took a look at shipping costs across shipping companies, incentives offered by other tea companies, and how we could make our own processes better. What we found gave us new information to change our methods and offer incentives that make shopping with us more attractive. As a result, we will soon launch flat-rate shipping on all purchases and FREE SHIPPING on orders over a certain amount.
Applying the concept of Kaizen to every decision we make has helped us bring together a community of people, employees, and customers to make a good company great.
Our face lift and shipping standards are only the beginning of becoming great, but they’re an important beginning to a long road ahead.
Savor this moment!