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e-Commerce Industry News

July 15, 2015
Are gender-specific websites hurting companies?
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July 15, 2015
A single definition of A single definition of "family" doesn't exist.
Each one is unique and has its own needs.
The United States is growing more progressive by the day. Laws are being passed or amended, businesses are discovering new ways to cater to their consumers and society is redefining the definition of family. However, because of these new developments, companies have more work to do to market to their customers. When it comes to their e-commerce platforms, they must eliminate gender-specific elements to reach the widest possible audience.

Why are gender-neutral websites necessary?
Households come in all shapes and sizes. They can be a single person or they could be made up of several. Maybe they are families or just roommates. According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 76 million family households in 2012. However, approximately one-third of those were single-parent families. An additional 32 million nonfamily households had just one person living there. Married couples only made up 66 percent, a 15 percent decrease since 1970.

Family dynamics are changing, which means the way retailers market their products must do the same. In traditional advertising and website design, products are geared toward either men or women. There may be a male or female in pictures or the colors could appeal to a certain gender, according to WebDesignerDepot.com. Even the language can be gender-specific.

This could discriminate against 50 percent of the consumers buying these products. Tools may seem more masculine while cleaning solutions may appear more feminine, but in today's changing society, there are no limitations to who will be using them. Women are just as likely to fix a loose board as men are to wipe down counters. Writing content or designing Web pages for just one gender will leave the rest of the buyers feeling alienated.
When it comes to their e-commerce platforms, businesses must eliminate gender-specific elements to reach the widest possible audience. When it comes to their e-commerce
platforms, businesses must eliminate
ender-specific elements to reach the
widest possible audience.

How can businesses eliminate gender-specific elements?
Men's and women's buying habits are different, which has led to the e-commerce world creating custom content for each group, Central Restaurant Products explained on its blog. Female shoppers tend to consider how products will benefit their overall lives. They like hearing personal stories and reading feedback. Women want to know how items will help them long-term instead of just what they can do for them in that moment. Men are the opposite. They want information to be clear and factual. The will buy products that will help them with specific tasks instead of looking at the big picture. Men also may be more averse to purchasing items geared toward women.

However, this trend of separation cannot continue if businesses want to keep sales consistent, according to Practical Ecommerce. Images, descriptions and features need to appeal to the larger audience. Moving away from traditional practices may be difficult for companies at first, but it will benefit both them and their customers overall. It is also not too hard to achieve. With a few alterations, e-retailers can have online stores that include everyone.

  1. Choose the right images - Consumers are more likely to purchase items when the people in pictures are similar to them, Practical Ecommerce claimed. If a product description contains a man using a power tool, women may stay away. The same happens when objects associated with the female gender have a woman in the picture. Male shoppers may not buy them. Businesses need to choose images that will appeal to everyone. That may mean including multiple pictures with different models or having just the merchandise appear in the images. If necessary, companies can separate unisex products into two pages to give an option for both male and female consumers.

  2. Stick to neutral colors - Pink and purple are generally used for women, while men like red and green. If businesses use colors associated with certain genders, they may turn consumers away without even realizing it. It is best to stick with neutral colors such as silver, black and white in product descriptions, the source explained. For websites, it may be a little trickier. Women like multiple bright colors while men like a more toned-down look. Companies need to find a middle ground between the two. According to WebDesignerDepot.com, blue is a favorite among both men and women, so if businesses need color, that would be the way to go.

  3. Pick the proper words - While descriptions may sound fine to the person writing them, they may not sound that way to consumers. Some words may sound more masculine or feminine than others. Avoid getting too technical with the phrasing and avoid whimsical wording, Practical Ecommerce explained. If necessary, businesses can include bullet points or sentences that convey different product characteristics that will appeal to either men or women. Items made for all consumers - such as glasses, clothing or accessories - should clearly state unisex or a similar phrase.
With today's changing world, corporations should strive to meet everyone's needs. What are seen as gender-biased products may be purchased by different groups of consumers, so businesses should ensure their descriptions and marketing reflect that.