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Frank Remarks: What Do Wired Women Want? 10 Ways to Attract the Female Shopper

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When women shop online, they want convenience, security, efficiency, good service - the same things they want when they shop at the mall. Does your e-business provide these features?
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"What do women want?" Freud pondered this question for much of his life, and all men through the centuries have done the same. If you're an e-business looking to attract and profit from the female buyer, Freud would ask "What do wired women want?"

First of all, as an e-business, should you care? Well, look at the latest facts.

Shopping Stats

For years, men were more likely than women to shop over the Internet. But according to a recent report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, over the 2001 holiday season 58 % of those making online purchases were women. Women also were more likely to enjoy the experience, with 37% reporting that they enjoyed shopping online "a lot'' compared with 17% of men. 29% of men polled said they didn't enjoy shopping online at all, compared with 15% of women.

In a study by Content Intelligence, most women were found to have used the Internet for less than three years, in comparison with only 35% of men. However, women are more likely to become frequent users. And according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project mentioned above, they're about to dominate online spending.

But it gets better.

Who do you think is more apt toward interactivity and reception? Right, women again. Millward Brown Intelliquest recently conducted a study of women's interactivity and receptivity, whose findings showed that women exhibited a high state of interactivity with banner ads; 60% of women clicked them to acquire more information. Women also showed strong brand loyalty; 34% went back to a web site after viewing an ad. The study also showed that women find the web very useful for decision-making, with 78% using the Internet to obtain product information before making purchasing decisions. In addition, 33% do research online and then purchase the products offline.

These findings show that addressing the needs of women online can be very lucrative for your e-business. A Harris Interactive study found that women control 75% of household finances and are responsible for 80% of purchasing decisions. Considering that half the online population is now female, this represents a huge market not to be ignored.

Open any college textbook on anthropology and you'll find that historically men were "hunters" and women were "gatherers." It has been said that this terminology also applies to shopping. Before men go shopping, they first decide what they want; then they go to the store—and bag it! When women go to a store they shop; in the anthropological tradition of self-preservation, women are more careful consumers. (Of course, I'm talking here about "generic" men and women—your experience may differ.)

In addition to studying a product before buying, privacy and transaction security are also major indicators of whether women will purchase something from your site. Almost 90% of wired women say that guaranteed transaction security influences their repeat visits to online shopping sites, and 67% report that published privacy policies encourage them to return to shopping sites.

Not only are women more careful shoppers, but being a modern woman also means multitasking. According to Faith Popcorn's "99 Lives" trend, women typically juggle more lives than a cat. Women are looking for shopping sites that make their lives easier and help them address the varied demands of work, home, and family. They're also looking for relationships and information online—not hype.

As to what they shop for, a study by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (now the Center for Women's Business Research) shows that women—and here's a surprise—are the primary decision-makers about Internet service providers in the home. The study also found that women are attracted to e-commerce sites that streamline their lives. Leisure products, computer equipment, and travel are their most popular purchases, while online banking and bill-paying services are used by more than one-third of all businesswomen. A study by AdRelevance revealed that online women reported women's portals, toy retailers, health sites, and retail savings sites as being the most popular.

So what does your e-business have to do to attract and hold this very lucrative market niche?

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