Fancy Names Appeal

Internet retailers have been increasingly using and coining edgy names for their brands to attract browsers. Stores picked quirky designations to play into people’s emotions in order to stand out and be the first that come to mind. Intuitively, this seems to be a good idea. When people want to shop for a pair of shoes online, wouldn’t heels.com, shoemint.com, or shoedazzle.com grab their eyes more so than those plainly named ones? When people look for clothes, wouldn’t stylesforless.com or sammydress.com be more enticing than their unadorned competitors? When a new laptop or other consumer electronic gadget is needed, wouldn’t newegg.com. overstock.com, or bestbuy.com come to mind? People may not necessarily buy from the shops that they first think of, but these stores do stand a higher chance to be picked over their uninventively named rivals.

Enticingly Named Boutiques Caught My Wife’s Notice

My wife loves shopping online. Over this past weekend, she was at it again for some clothes. She looked at amazon.com for a while, and then wanted to see if she could find other alternatives. She typed “internet boutique” into the computer, and in no time pages of search results – store links, recommendation lists, and excerpts – populated her window. Out of the many shops found on the first page, there were enough tastefully labeled sites that she never moved beyond that page to find more. Whatever rationale behind those names, their owners have certainly succeeded in winning my wife’s visits.

Mnemonic Brands May Not Enjoy Better Business or Higher Praises

Inspired by my wife’s online trotting phenomena, I decided to do a quick check to see if the e-tailers with instantly appealing names do better in business and garner higher customer ratings. In lieu of doing a thorough examination across a wide industry spectrum over a big sample space each, I enlisted the help of Google finance to compare seductively named stores against their undecorated rivals, and used resellerratings.com and sitejabber.com to pair up their customer ratings for swift investigation turnaround. First I inspected the internet apparel brands, I found that they did not necessarily fare better than their unimaginative contestants on financial results, furthermore they had not consistently obtained higher marks on customer ratings. Then I examined a few shoe websites in the same fashion. The results were not unidirectional either. Finally I repeated the experiments on tech stores, and my discoveries were again the same. This finding is quite thought provoking because I had contemplated that owners who put more efforts into naming their stores might have run their businesses more wisely and been more careful with operation details that govern their bottom lines. This revelation leads to the point I would like to make next.

Head-turning Names Are Just the Stores’ First Right Moves

 Head-turning names may bring in more first time buyers or inquirers, but ultimately it’s the packages behind the brands that dictate these consumers’ future business and their testimonies. Once people are in the shops, their current and next purchases depend on the aggregate values of prices, fashions, live chats, warranties, return policies and processes, reward programs, quality, varieties, and many other factors. If irresistibly named outlets do not give surfers better experiences, then visitors will remember their less than desirable escapades just as easily as they do the brands. Hence firms that appeal through their unforgettable names are really walking on thin lines; any sub-optimal encounter could give a customer an equally unforgettable negative experience which not only might turn the client into an adversary, but also might trigger criticisms on Facebook, sitejabber.com, and many other venues as well.

Postlude of My Wife’s Online Shopping Episode

Later that weekend I asked my wife how her internet shopping had turned out. She told me that she browsed a few stores with attention grasping names, but still ended up getting a couple of attires from Amazon. I asked her why; she said that she searched for customer reviews for those stores and found them to be quite concerning. She didn’t want to take a chance on stores with complaints on mismatches and returns, so she finally decided to go with the store she has been having good experiences with; incidentally it has much higher customer ratings too.

Conclusion

Actions speak louder than words. What stores do is more important than how intriguing or tempting their names are. Alluring brands can only charm surfers to visit their sites; transforming visits into purchases ultimately depend on the entire shopping experiences that they provide to their guests. Shoppers who explore a site could become disenchanted if they are annoyed by its prices, quality, varieties, styles, return procedure, live chat agent, or any other aspects that they discover while on the site. The most damaging side that could happen to a store is that disillusioned visitors will remember their bad experiences in this store for a long time just as they do its memorable name, and they will likely leave critical comments on many store ranking websites to warn off potential viewers. Catchy brand names could be good, but they could only go so far as bringing in new visitors, beyond that stores are on their own to win the hearts of the viewers. Besides, stores should heed the common wisdom that great expectations lead to greater disappointments. The collateral damage from displeased visitors may be the nightmares that no store could live with.

 

Chi-Pong Wong is a seasoned thought leader in program management, customer experience, and supply chain strategy. He is an influencer on several LinkedIn groups and has published on leading online magazines including Project Times, PM Hut, Project Management, Customer Think, ServiceDirectors.org Business Review, UX Matters, Supply Chain Brain, and other popular journals. He earned a MA in Economics at SUNY @ Stony Brook, and a MS in Computer Science at Duke University. He has worked previously at Arrow Electronics, IBM, STMicroelectronics, NEC Electronics, and is currently with Hewlett-Packard. He can be reached at Linkedin