While the growth rate of pure online sales slows, traffic to retail websites continues to increase exponentially as consumers use online and mobile channels to find and research products they’ll ultimately buy in-store.
It’s important not to judge a retail website by its sales revenue alone.
While a key performance indicator for a website is direct revenue, its value far outweighs this when considering the other critical roles your website plays in total business sales.
I recently attended Online Retailer conference in Sydney where international keynote speaker Kevin Ertell, senior vice president, digital, Sur La Table, described this concept as “the retail website as the hub of the brand”.
Kevin says by considering a retail website as the hub of the brand with its functions as the requisite spokes, retailers provide a seamless shopping experience to consumers, no matter how, when, or where they choose to shop.
If you’re looking to establish some good habits for your brand’s webstore, here are the six to work on:
Of course a key indicator of a retail website remains direct revenue for sales completed online. Study how consumers move through your site and optimise your user journeys for conversion. Ensure all the information and assurance they need to purchase are available and the path to purchase is focused and straightforward.
With in-store foot traffic in decline and the immense amount of online traffic, the retail website is the obvious place to build and promote your brand. Create engaging content for your audience, and inspire and educate them on your products and what you stand for. Ensure promotions and campaigns are consistent with in-store execution and optimised for online. Increase your reach with good search engine practice.
3. Driving customers to physical stores:
Attract customers to your bricks and mortar store by offering click and collect, displaying stock levels by store, directing them to their local store with specific details of location, and explaining the customer experience they can expect in store.
4. Building communities
Consumers trust brands less and each other more. In the age of social media, advertising is becoming less effective as consumers turn to their friends and family and even strangers for advice and recommendations. Create commonality with users of your products by providing a forum where they can interact, discussing the interests they share in the use of your products or services. Reviews and recommendations are a great way to harness enthusiasm for your business and expose it to other consumers. A loyalty programme which seamlessly connects online and physical stores also creates a sense of belonging.
Online stores don’t have the space constraints of their bricks and mortar counterparts. This gives three advantages:
- Present your full range. Showcase all your products, rather than a carefully curated subsection of your products designed to fit within four walls. Also, maximize the appeal to all consumers, not just those who match the demographics of the area surrounding a physical store.
- Present your product in multiple ways and settings. A mega menu makes it easy for a customer to locate product according to how they use or categorise it. Listing under multiple categories means appealing to the different ways consumers think of your products.
- Use many images to display the same product in various contexts and settings. Show multiple images, for example plates on different table cloths, pants teamed with different tops, this sofa with that rug. Online tools that allow the customer to more easily imagine a product in their own home, while still often clunky, are evolving.
Digital channels open up a wealth of additional customer data not previously available in physical channels. While the data from a bricks and mortar store has told us what a customer has purchased, what was previously lacking was what they considered buying, but didn’t (maybe because it was out of stock). Your website lets you track how customers found you, what they looked at, saved to their wishlist or abandoned as soon as they saw the price. With online shopping there is often more time to collect more consumer-volunteered information. For example, rather than slowing up a terminal in a busy physical store or expecting your customer to give their birthdate to the sales assistant, incent them to go online and tell you more about themselves.