Young Men and Digital Shopping: Building a Better Bro-sing Experience

by / Friday, 14 March 2014 / Published in Blog, E-Commerce, Strategy
Meet the Bro. He’s a single guy between 20 and 35 who’s probably in need of a haircut. He tends to let his bathroom get a little gnarly, chooses a trip to Chipotle over one to the grocery store, and chances are there are some holes in the socks he’s wearing right now. When it comes to his online experience, he’s more of a bro-swer than a browser, choosing BleacherReport over Mr. Porter’s picks for casual blazers that transition his look from spring to summer. The only time he thinks about buying clothing is when he’s out of quarters for the washing machine and he’s on day 3 of his last pair of boxers.

For the Bro to buy something, it has to be effortless, quick, and a good deal. Otherwise, nine times out of ten, he’ll put off his purchase until his girlfriend breaks down and buys it for him. I am something of an expert in his demographic because I frequently find myself as the unwilling fashion director in this scenario. I have a hard enough time dressing myself, so I’m all for digital shopping experiences that can take this hopeless male off my hands.

You couldn’t get this bro to spend more than 10 minutes on any shopping site, which is why few get him to checkout. But here are a few he might actually buy from- and what all e-commerce brands could learn from them.

1. Amazon Prime / Google Shopping Express
Count on Google and Amazon to be among the only to have cracked the bro code with their winning formula of free shipping, fast delivery, and cheap pricing. If he’s a member of Prime or Google Shopping Express, chances are it’s his first stop. The good news for the rest of us is that he’s probably overwhelmed by the number of options he has. Enter the next two sites that provide what they can’t: narrow product sets with near to nil decisions to be made, plus a brand personality that speaks to him.

2. Dollar Shave Club
You’ve probably seen Dollar Shave Club’s hilarious video. It plays like a Judd Apatow movie and sells you on the site’s brilliant solution: a monthly subscription service to an essential item every guy has to buy for himself, made so easy that he need only sign up once.

The video’s success was no fluke. These are smart dudes who get dudes and how they’re shopping online. And the site delivers on its promise to “shave time and shave money.” There are only 3 razors to pick from- cheap, cheaper, or cheapest, and then just 3 more steps to checkout/signup for subscription. Content throughout the site is kept streamlined yet witty, so when there’s text on the page, it’s adding real value to the purchase process. Always the focus is on the great deal and ease of picking a subscription, with smooth add-ons in the cart and a simple checkout.

3. Manpacks
Manpacks shares Dollar Shave Club’s subscription model and its mission is making shopping as effortless as possible for dudes. A Manpack is a bundle of essential items like underwear, t-shirts, socks, and toiletries that can be a one time order or scheduled every three months. It’s a tougher sell than Dollar Shave Club because the greater breadth of categories as well as options within each category (14 different types of undershirts!) makes calculating what you’ll need every 3 months a little bit too much.

That said, Manpacks tries to keep it simple with minimal text, expandable drawers for additional information within a category page, and a streamlined funnel overall. They also highlight their satisfied bro clientele with social testimonials pulled in throughout the site. I suspect their customers skew older and more affluent than DSC’s dude, because they’re selling stuff like vitamins and face scrubs that no Bro would consider essential.

What We Can Learn From Bros:
For me, the Game of Thrones storyline and way more than I ever cared to know about the Giants. For ecommerce retailers, here are three takeaways worth noting:

1. Make it easy to find what we want.
Whether it’s personalization (like Amazon), a robust search experience (Google Shopping Express), or just having less stuff to choose from (Dollar Shave Club)- ensure those coming to your site are served up appropriate products ASAP.

2. Streamline content to what’s truly important.
Small screens + information overload is shifting content from verbal to visual. So when you’re communicating something, make sure it’s valuable- and concise. Keep cross-sells smooth and straightforward at logical points of the experience. Content should speed the path to purchase rather than diverting or sidelining it.

3. Have some personality.
As Dollar Shave Club’s video shows, a little personality can go a long way on digital. There’s a way to marry function and fun. Infuse a little color into calls to action and contextual information.

I’m asking retailers on behalf of all those affected by the ineptitude of the bros we date to design experiences that can help put these young men on the path to self-sufficiency. Let’s think about the bros as we design experiences that can connect consumers with the products we want and need with speed, ease, and a little fun along the way.