Online Businesses, Stop Strong-Arming Me!

We’ve all been there — assaulted by the obnoxious salesperson who targets you the second you walk into their store, usually before you even know what the store offers. “Um, I’m just looking,” you say. You KNOW they’re not really concerned with “helping you” — they just want to make a sale. Any sale.

Retail Vultures

A few years ago, my wife and I went into a well-known Southeast Michigan furniture retailer. Within 30 seconds, we were cornered by three different salespeople: “Can I help you? Let me know when you are ready to buy,” they chirped.

Then they hovered along our periphery like vultures waiting for a dying wildebeest on the Serengeti. After a few minutes of experiencing their “customer service,” we left and looked for another, less intrusive store.

Some Tactics Never Die

We all want to control our shopping experience. We don’t want to feel pressured or harassed by overeager sales staff. Basically, we want assistance while making our purchase on our terms — if and when WE are ready. As a marketing professional, this seems so basic to me. It just makes sense to serve the customer on his or her terms, but time and again, I keep running into the same old strong-arm buying experience. (Which seems strange, because people are so willing to share their positive or negative buying experiences via social media.)

Just Let Me Shop … Online

I buy a lot of stuff online — probably more than most people. I like the ease of the process; shopping unshaven in my sweatpants at home at 1:00 a.m. and reading the often-helpful customer feedback and ratings. More and more, however, I’m running into the same buying experience that I described above in my furniture-store tale of woe. But this time, it’s online.

My Biggest Pet Peeves

#1: In an effort to gain contact information from online shoppers, more and more retailers ask for your email information via a popup window the MOMENT you arrive on their site. This is akin to walking into a store at the mall and having a bouncer ask you for your street address and telephone number before you are allowed inside to shop. And you know what? Even though it’s annoying, I’m OK with it as long as they offer me the chance of opting out. But recently, many online companies are not even giving me the option of clicking that little “x” in the right-hand corner of the popup. If I don’t enter my email address, I’m not allowed to shop on their site. That’s fine with me, because I don’t want to shop on their site. What marketing numbskull came up with this approach? It’s so counterproductive to the freedom and convenience generally offered by expert retailers such as (who happens to know more about my buying habits than my wife … and all without assailing me with a popup window demanding my email address).

#2: Live chat is a helpful service, but again, only when you are ready to make the connection. I was recently on another creative agency’s site, and I hadn’t been there longer than five seconds when live chat kicked in with, “Are you looking for a new logo or website?” Mortified that my own industry could be so clueless, I bounced off the site before I even finished reading their first rotating banner message. C’mon marketing people — I mean, really!

When Will It End?

At some point in the future, I expect to read a trend report that announces “Overzealous Selling Tactics Repugnant to Online Shoppers.” I’ll just think, “Told you so!”

Oh, wait — it looks like we might be moving in the right direction after all:

Have you ever been strong-armed from the comfort of your own computer? What happened? How did you react?

The post Online Businesses, Stop Strong-Arming Me! appeared first on Hile Creative.

See full post here: Hile Creative2014-08-26.