These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find a business in the retail sales industry that doesn't provide a web sales component as part of its shopping experience. Web sales allow retailers to reach any consumer with an internet connection, as opposed to traditional brick-and-mortar stores whose appeal lies in proximity or convenience. While a great deal of scrutiny and thought goes into the planning and design of every retail store, organizations are doing themselves a great disservice if they don't apply the same level of thought and care to their internet store-fronts as well.
According to a recent study, American women control $7 billion in annual online spending. In order to tap into this market, online retailers must address the complete online shopping experience from a woman's perspective. Research has found that women feel empowered when shopping online. This sense of empowerment comes from conquering "tasks, time constraints, and personal limitations." Because shopping online affords women the luxury to take their time, they are likely to add items to their online carts and revisit them at a later date. By creating a sense of community in an online retail shop, consumers are likely to return again and again. Women's online shopping style is very visual, much like traditional window shopping. Women are also drawn to the application of online visualization tools such as virtual models in regard to clothing purchases. Detailed descriptions of a product and high level zooms let female consumers get a clear idea of the products they are browsing so that they feel confident in the items they select. Companies that offer free shipping and free returns are also likely to draw in more customers due to the sheer ease factor. It has been found that women will spend a little more for an item from a company offering free shipping and returns for the guarantee of satisfaction. All of these insights are crucial for online retailers to consider if they hope to reach female consumers in effective and strategic ways.