Prepping for the "Mommy Experience"

September 30, 2007 - For those of you who don’t know, I’m expecting our first baby (featured right) in two weeks. I’m feeling a bit like a stuffed goose, and hurrying trying to tie up loose ends before our son arrives.

I haven’t written much as I've been dealing with insomnia, fatigue and juggling multiple projects. Of course, the queue of ideas and thoughts is full…and I’ve had no time to get anything out in the form of an article. ...Maybe post-baby? Don’t laugh - I'm enjoying my denial and convinced I have the ability to multi-task!

As my schedule is finally calming down, I did a little shopping this week. This morning I was chomping at the bit to air my feelings on some experience pitfalls I witnessed. So, on behalf of all expectant and new mommies, I offer the following:

Brick and Mortar Stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s, JC Penney and even Gymboree boutiques – Hear our cry! If your aisles are too narrow for women shopping with a large belly to fit through without knocking stuff off the racks --- OR for women pushing a stroller with a grabby infant, you are losing sales! Get a clue – create space for us and you’ll create space for sales!

Grocery Stores It confounds me as to why you offer only a single "token" "new and expecting mother" parking space!? I mean, it's a nice gesture, but do you really think that there will be only one of us, out of the 250 others parking in your lot? Perhaps it would be good for us to be granted temporary handicap badges when we're 7 months pregnant, which will expire on baby's one year birth date so we can use the litany of handicap spaces. While that's not likely to happen, couldn't you offer 2-3 pregnant and expecting mommy spaces for us? Especially in freezing cold and icy climates!!

Children’s Place –We got a fat gift certificate to use for baby clothes only to find out that Children’s Place doesn’t take them online. What’s worse, my local store didn't have my online items in stock and couldn't order them for some reason. The online customer service people told me the best thing to do was to purchase the items with another method of payment, wait for shipment, then drive to the store, return the item and repurchase it on the gift card. Classic experience hurdle: Make me pay for shipping, then drive to the mall to take care of this when I may deliver any day. Silly! Catch up with the times – most online stores take gift cards today, and harried mommies (AND expectant moms) can’t always make it to the mall .

Gymboree – I picked out a few cute outfits online today, while I was in the middle of shopping at the Children’s Place. Not 15 minutes after I got off the phone with Children’s Place, I went back to my shopping cart on Gymboree, and my visit had timed out (expired) – and so did my shopping cart! As a result, I lost the special sale purchases I’d so carefully looked for. Web statistics reflect that many online shoppers multitask when browsing online…and it’s time for Gymboree to catch on to this trend! Shopping carts should dynamically represent inventory available (so if I come back, and my product is no longer in stock, it tells me apologetically). They should also time out after a LONG period of time (varies from 12-24 hours usually, although Gap and Old Navy seem to last for about a week). You lost my sale on principle alone!

Target – In general I have problems with the online experience at Target.com, which I may do a future “Experience File” on. In short, the entire online store forces the consumer to hit back buttons repeatedly, because there is consistent “loss of state” as people select various categories and shop by type or brand. The site would also benefit from some Web 2.0 features that could make the experience much more streamlined for individuals adding items to cart or a registry list, among other things. While I shop Target online a lot, my professional opinion is that the site has severe experience limitations imposed by its catalog provider that push the user experience behind the times - by at least three years.

Specific to mommy stuff at Target– I have been a user of Target Gift registries (wedding registry AND baby registry within 18 months) and I’ve been frustrated! Why can't I prioritize the items I select for my guests? Further, I can’t add notes to items for the benefit of my fellow shoppers. Also, when I update my registry in the store using the hand scanner, photos of the items I select NEVER show up online (even if there’s an online version of it). This makes the shopping experience difficult for others, as well as they must rely on SKU numbers. Take the target lists experience to the next level, and consider the context of the users participating in gift registries! Improve this experience and improve sales!

Amazon.com Generally the best experience overall, although I do believe the site could benefit from some more dynamic Web 2.0 features that make adding items to a registry and viewing related items a better experience. When a user adds items to lists, pages load with "other recommendations" which are often not useful. This requires the user to do a lot of “back buttoning" to get to a desired place. Other than that, my gripe is with the Amazon/Target registry situation. I just don’t understand why, when Amazon features the Target gift registry, there is no synchronization between items on my Amazon registry and my Target registry. Either make the Target and Amazon gift registries integrated, or keep them separate! Having partial integration is just confusing.

I won't even go into the challenges I experienced while trying to find maternity pants that do not fall down ... or the joys of finding "belly bands" to keep your pants up! That seems endemic to the plight of the maternally challenged woman today. I will say KUDOS, however, to Gap and Old Navy for offering GREAT maternity clothing with a wide range of sizes and fast delivery! It has been a godsend!

Well, I’m sure there’s more to say, but this is enough for one day’s shopping. I’m off to have yet another sonogram! More soon!

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LEIGH DURST

LEIGH DURST
I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.

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