A Fantastically Fun Website

  • AUTHOR: Tom Shapiro
  • DATE: 09/11/2008

Meet Jenny. She’s a happy 5 year-old girl with lots of energy, and like most 5 year-olds, she loves toys.

Imagine that Jenny is a very good girl, and her mom wants to reward her with a new toy. Jenny is excited about this and wants to check out options for toys online. After lots of dancing around, jumping on the bed and a few cartwheels, Jenny talks with her mom and convinces her to take Jenny to various toy websites to explore their options.

What do you think they find?

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Many websites, they discover, are just plain boring. Here we have an excited 5 year-old and her mom who can’t wait to spend their money on a new toy.

Yet, remarkably, some websites act as if this is the most boring proposition imaginable.

Why would an online retailer do this? Why would a business decide to make their website and the purchase process boring? Why would they not create ways to build loyalty with Jenny and her mom, to keep them coming back when Jenny turns 6, 7 and 8 years old?

When Jenny and her mom start their search, they begin with a few major online retailers. Their first stop is ToysRUs.com. When they click through to toys for 5-7 year-olds, they are presented with lists for top sellers, customer favorites and new additions.

All of this is useful information. But where’s the fun? Buying a toy on the site is the same as buying a wrench on a hardware website. Is this the best that ToysRUs.com can really do?

Next they visit another major toy retailer at Walmart.com. Again, lots of lists of products, but these are similar to the lists they viewed at the Toys “R” Us site.

Next they visit eToys.com. Once again, they see essentially the same website, with list after list of products.

So, what’s a toy retailing website to do?

A good place to start is to remember that it’s real people visiting their websites. Make the site experience worthwhile. Make it enjoyable. Make it fun.

Fun Sites

After a bit of boredom on the major retailer websites listed above, Jenny and her mom check out the Hasbro, American Girl, Barbie, Barbie Girls and Barbie Collectors websites.

Wow! Talk about a difference. These websites get it. They understand that to build a brand and long-term sales there is more to a website than a mere product listing.

These websites offer site visitors many options, based on their objectives and interests. They offer the site visitor fun as much as they offer product information. They offer games and a chance to actively participate. They offer an opportunity to connect emotionally with the toys on their sites.

Hasbro

When Jenny and her mom visit the Hasbro.com website, they have the option to “Play” at Hasbro MonkeyBar TV. There, kids can watch videos, play games and read online comic books. And these options are further offered for each line of toys, whether the Easy Bake Oven, Littlest Pet Shop or Dream Life collection, ensuring that the fun is aligned to the child’s particular product interest. And just in case Jenny is in the mood for puzzles, coloring books and easier games, she can visit Hasbro MonkeyBar TV Jr.

American Girl

At AmericanGirl.com, Jenny and her mom can visit the movie website, play loads of games and activities, learn about locations around the world, and participate in the “You Said It!” question and answer forum. American Girl publishes an associated magazine as well, and that section of the website offers Jenny and her mom an opportunity to view videos of cool girls doing cool things, submit fashion artwork and poems, and test themselves with pop quizzes.

Barbie

Mattel’s Barbie offers Jenny and her mom a collection of websites, ranging from Barbie to Barbie Girls to Barbie Collector. There, they can explore an interactive “magical garden,” play games or decorate Barbie’s house. They can join the Barbie Girls VIP program, gain access to online activities and chat with friends online (with parental safeguards in place).

Jenny and her mom were searching for toys, but the idea of making the purchase process fun for consumers applies to any product or service. Toys are a good example in that if a business has a hard time making the toy buying process fun, it would have a seriously hard time making anything else fun.

How about your website?

Whether you sell toys, apparel or computer repair services, are you boring the pants off of your site visitors? Or are you offering them options? Are you offering them engagement? Are you offering them fun?

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tom Shapiro
Tom Shapiro

Tom Shapiro is CEO of Digital Marketing NOW, a strategy, design and marketing agency that fuels clients' business results. DigitalMarketingNOW.com Twitter: @DigitalMN

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