Easy does it


We’ve been talking a lot to our clients about ‘cognitive ease’ recently. That’s a very behavioural science-y term but the thinking behind it is simple and useful. People want their experience of shopping to be as easy as possible. They want to use their brains as little as possible. Anything a retailer can do to make the shopping experience less wearisome will help.

I’ll talk you through an example. I’ve been thinking about buying a new lampshade for my bedroom for ages. Every now and then I’d do a bit of half-hearted googling, or I’d wander round the displays in a department store … and then I’d get stuck. I couldn’t quite find the style I was looking for or it wasn’t quite the right size. The price was a bit too expensive for what I wanted. There was always a barrier. It was too hard!

Yesterday, I found myself on the Wayfair app. Wayfair are a US furniture and homewares brand that is a relatively recent entrant to the UK and European markets. You might have seen their recent advertising starring Lorraine Kelly. Wayfair have been lauded in the marketing press for their innovative approach to selling homewares online, including virtual reality and augmented reality apps.

Much as I love a bit of new technology, it wasn’t the really innovative stuff that lead to my purchase (spoiler: I bought the lampshade). In fact, what lead to the sale was just how easy the whole customer journey was. I’ll give you some examples:

  1. Detailed search functions with the ability to whittle down my ideas into a manageable number of products to review. This was key – being overwhelmed by choice is a classic example of ‘cognitive load’.

  2. Clear, simple photos of the product, largely set against a white background (no distractions!).
  3. Functional information - size, shape, weight, material – available with a click if I wanted to see it
  4. A really easy, one or two click process to actually making the purchase – all my details saved and correct from a previous purchase. Free delivery (so I didn’t have to think about how much I wanted to pay).

I think it took me 2 minutes to find something I liked, and much less than that to buy.

Easy shopping experiences build trust. They create sales opportunities that might not have been there before. They create a positive memories and they make us want to shop again.

Whenever we receive a brief from a client now, we’re thinking about how we can make their shopping experience – on OR offline – into one that’s easier and simpler. If we can take away the strain, we take away barriers to a potential sale. How can you make your shopping experience easier?


Anna Cliffe, Joint Managing Director

Chris Handford