Creating an effective online presence is hard and maintaining it is harder still, so why do it? Well, it’s the virtual window to your store and even if it’s a non-transactional site, it’s as important as your store experience.
So when considering your website, always ask what do you want the site to achieve. If you want to drive sales, the site needs to be set up to have your consumers coming to it. You could make the best site in the world but if you don’t attract the right people to it, no one will know it exists, nor will you sell anything.
If you have the luxury of a big budget to launch a major ATL campaign to drive awareness of the site, then great but if this isn’t an option, then you’ll need to get inventive and use your resources wisely. Therefore it is best that you spend as much time on planning the site as defining your consumer base, driving the customers with each click-through to your site. And don’t forget to make it mobile compatible as according to Statista, 59% of all worldwide website traffic is now on mobile devices. According to Hubspot, the industry benchmark for average dwell time is considered somewhere between 2-4 minutes. It usually takes around this time to explore a website and get a feel for the design and your offering.
You will soon know if you have the right audience coming to the site as they will purchase if it’s an e-commerce site or engage if not, the objective is to not let them drop off, never to be seen again. Play to the key strengths of online, with 85% of consumers researching online before a purchase in store, make sure you use the space at your disposal to portray all key bits of information surrounding the products.
Consumers will often be coming to your site for information on pricing product details and reviews, so ensuring all this information is readily available and accurate is key and furthermore, this helps with SEO, helping to push your site up the search rankings.
Everything from pricing, through to more detailed specifications should be easily found and digestible and failing to do so will lead to customer drop-off. People will more often than not be looking for this info with a view to also then go and touch, feel, demo a product with a view to purchase in-store.
If you already have a physical store, make sure the site is aligned with your in-store messaging and values. Too often retailers aren’t aware of how messaging, promotions, experience and brand compliance should transcend from store to site and vice versa. Recent Gekko research found that 69% of people surveyed said that a well-synced online and offline experience would help drive a considered purchase.
The customer journey more often than not starts with a visit to your website. Gekko’s research has shown that 85% of shoppers looking to make a significant purchase will do their research online before actually buying. This shopper journey should be developed, keeping the consumer’s attention, rather than leaving them unmotivated to click beyond the landing page or walk through your physical door. Therefore with dwell times on a landing page recorded as up to 4 minutes, the importance of the look, feel and ease to digest information and navigate their way through your site is therefore the key to a successful site. It’s understood that 88% of online shoppers are more likely to continue shopping on a retailer website that offers a personalised experience, increasing to 96% of Gen Z and 97% of Millennials based on research conducted by Elastic.
It may seem an obvious thing to point out for those of you with a physical retail presence but be conscious of using changing seasons, events and promotions as a worthwhile excuse to update your site. Keeping your site fresh and relevant will make sure you are attracting traffic to the site and driving potential customers to shop with you for special seasonal deals. Ensure that any promotion or event you are running in-store is reflected on your site and perhaps create a call to action. By doing this you can get to understand your customer better so that you can proactively market out to them at a later date. Utilise site analytics to assist you in understanding who your consumers are and how they are using your website. Insights on where users are coming from, which pages shoppers look at the most, plus the effectiveness of any marketing campaigns you have running will all help understand key impacts and help in your long-term strategies for the brand and products.
If you create a site that has independent reviews and rating, which is considered standard, then be prepared not only for the positive feedback but also the less than glowing reviews. The reality is that all retailers will get these from time to time. It’s how you deal with this feedback that matters. According to Review Trackers, 94% of online customers have avoided a business due to a negative review. Therefore for over 9 out of 10 customers, online reviews have become essential to their decision-making online. Whilst 94% may avoid you, it’s claimed by Podium that 93% of customers say they’ve made purchasing decisions based on an online review. What’s more, most customers say they won’t engage with a product or business if they see too many negative reviews or a star rating of less than 3.3. Be mindful of how you position your feedback and its features in Google searches of your site.
It is estimated that 21% of UK retail purchases are expected to take place online in 2023. It’s therefore no surprise that your e-commerce strategy is important. With more customers shopping online, your business can sell more and earn more as a result if you’re running an effective e-commerce site. However, whether your goal via your website is to boost direct sales or only engagement, it’s important to create a strategy that encourages consumers to your site and increases dwell time that elevates the customer experience and begins their journey.
Keeping the site uncluttered is critical as is the need to have relevant imagery that truly represents your business, royalty-free stock photography can work but it needs to be true to your brand. Involving your staff can make it personal too. It makes you real and relevant to the consumer with the added bonus that they recognise a few faces when they drop into your store, increasing your credentials as a retailer that values a personal approach to the customer journey.
To read the full article by Dan Todaro, Managing Director please visit ERT Online
Photo by Negative Space