The principle role of the website within e-commerce

In his book about product management Marty Cagan wrote the following statement on why Apple gets the hardware and software so right:

  1. The Hardware Serves the Software

  2. The Software Serves the User Experience

  3. The User Experience serves the Emotion

I think he is dead right. He is right because it’s emotion that drives a products desirability and therefore success. The greater the emotion created the more valuable the product and there aren’t many products more valuable than the few that Apple make. Understanding the role of the hardware with the software is critical in this.

In e-commerce the same applies. Sales are driven by emotion, understanding this is incredibly important to understanding the role of the website with the merchandise.  The same statement can be slightly altered to represent this:

  1. The Website serves the Merchandise
  2. The Merchandise serves the User Experience
  3. The User Experience serves the Emotion

In essence it’s the websites job to enhance the emotion behind the desirability of the merchandise; and thereby enhance the perception of the merchandise value. It should be an extension of the merchandise and compliment it.

When a user leaves an ecommerce site, they should be thinking of nothing more than the merchandise because one thing is sure, no customer goes to an ecommerce site to admire the website much like no-one buys a smartphone for the hardware. They buy the smart phone for the experience generated by the software as it’s this that generates the emotion. They only care that the hardware is capable of running the software superbly. The hardware shouldn’t even be considered once purchased; when you think about the only time it is considered is almost always negative – battery failing, no signal, broken… Therefore:

“The principle role of an ecommerce website is to ensure it is forgotten. It should do this by ensuring that the only thing thought about is the merchandise and the emotion behind the desire for it”

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