Retailers' websites need more personality: Forrester analyst

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Brands are falling short on web design – and therefore personality – Ron Rogowski, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said at his company's Customer Experience Forum in New York on June 29.

We all know — and Rogowski pointed out — that emotional engagement is key to targeting customers. Brands get that in the traditional sense, but seem to be a bit slow to understand this in the digital realm.

Rogowski said that companies surveyed in proprietary research said they were investing 58% more in web design than last year, translating into 34% of companies investing in the area. He also said 37% of companies are spending money on behavioral analytics.

He added that 46% of respondents said US retail sales are influenced by the web.

Despite this, Rogowski emphasized that 90% of companies fall flat when it comes to site experience. He pointed to such examples as Fry's Food Stores, which has built storefronts with personality. However, at the point Forrester was conducting research, had a dismal online partner (it didn't look as subdued when I clicked onto it myself today, so I guess that's a good sign).

Tazo Tea was another great example. Its site showed off an image of a hot cup of steaming tea. Then gentle music — the kind you hear whispering through the leaves in a proper Chinese garden — emanated from the site.

Of course, when I tried to log onto Tazo's site today, I got a black screen with a message saying: “Please click here to install the Flash 7 plug-in and enter the world of Tazo.” Being pressed for time, my patience for things like this is very low. I did like the following message, though: “Your patience with technology will be rewarded with a fresh cup of tea.”

The point is, though, much like dating, personality is critical.

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