Seconds to impact

We’ve all heard this maxim about websites: you’ve got less than 10 seconds to impress (or is that 6 seconds, or 3? It all depends on which blog you read). But have you ever stopped to think that websites aren’t alone in this?

First impressions count. We all have seconds to make an impact before a) interest wanes b) a person makes assumptions about you or c) a person falls in love with you(according to Hollywood).

This maxim occurred to me again recently, as I wandered in and out of clothing stores. It took only seconds for me to recognise whether a store had any merchandise that appealed to me.

Sure, I might politely wander around for a few more seconds, say hello to the shop assistant, touch some fabric – but I would know almost immediately whether I was going to spend any money there.

On websites, when visitors leave quickly it’s often called your site’s “bounce rate”. How long they stay can be referred to as a site’s “stickiness”.
I haven’t worked in the retail sector, but I’d love to know if there is research on their stores’ stickiness. I’m sure there is.

In supermarkets, they do try to influence this. They stock the essentials right at the back of the store, ensuring you spend more time there as you traverse your way down the aisles. (Think about where the milk, eggs and bread is stored in your local supermarket).

Websites clearly shouldn’t be burying their useful information. But what lessons can websites take from supermarkets – if any? “Dressing your storefront” to appeal to customers is an obvious one.

Websites have one clear advantage over the physical stores. Website analytics. It’s easy to show how many users leave after a few seconds. I wonder if shop assistants are taking any notes?

Have you ever worked in retail? Any stories to share?

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