Whether it’s clothes, shoes, electronics, music, or movies. We buy so many of these things online nowadays. It was estimated that in 2010 Americans spent $186 billion dollars on retail websites. That’s massive. It’s estimated that this will continue at a rate of 150% percent into the next year. That means 100 billion will go to 250 billion.
Maybe you’re like me. You might still appreciate the service that comes along with the buying experience. Chatting with the store owner or employees about your common interests. These things are a foregone conclusion in the digital age of convenience. No one really has the time unless they make that time.
Amazon.com is a juggernaut. They are growing at an unprecedented pace that continues to cripple small business and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. It was said in a recent Forbes article that Amazon influences buyers even more than Google, possibly even Facebook or Apple.
Meanwhile store owners and retailers continue to hide their heads in the sand and complain about the rule being different for online retailers and brick and mortar retailers. I’ve thought about this for a while and as a consumer I’d like to see change. But it takes retailers with physical locations being more strategic about how they market their products online and offline.
As you may know I run a company who builds websites for businesses. We help our customers diversify how they market their products and their buying experience. Often stores want their local customers to walk in and buy often and their out of town customers to buy from their website.
But there are often missed opportunities and retail companies don’t always understand how to solve this problem. That’s because the consumer is often changing and getting smarter. Not only are they getting smarter, they are demanding more convenience.
The Apple Experience
How great is your experience shopping in an Apple store? Whether you’re a pre-teen taking a selfie on Photobooth or you’re a veteran Mac customer taking your computer in for service, the experience is known to be second to none. I recently saw a friend of mine tweet about how great his service experience was. His quote was ended with “…customer for life.”
This isn’t the only person who feels this way about Apple. Their in-store experience is second to none. This is just one example of one company working to perfect the online and offline retail customer experience. There are 100′s more I’m sure.
Now getting to our main point, I wanted to shed some light on the mistakes I find retailers make with their websites.
Here are five critical mistakes with retail websites.
1. Your online store is just a shopping cart. If you have a physical location you are missing a huge oppurtunity to convey brand loyalty to your customers. Speak to the experience customers will have with beautiful photography and good storytelling regarding the buying experience. This leads us to elaborate in our next point.
2. The store experience is not conveyed on the website. As I mentioned above, you have products and you may have a blog but you might have amazing physical locations with different types of products. TELL THAT STORY! Let your customers know. Treat your online store and website much like you would your retail stock.
3. All products can be bought online. How is this a mistake? Think for a minute. If you have a physical location you want to grow that experience customers have by coming into your store. So it would be a good strategy to have some products only available online or some products available offline in store to increase walk in traffic. Use your website to promote more walk-in traffic.
4. Bad sales service. There’s entire books written about this subject so I want to be brief. But you can be strategic about how your store employees draw traffic to the website or vice versa. How is the automation process on your website? Does it properly up-sell your customers for products that they would actually buy?
5. Ineffective marketing for your website. If you build an online store they will come! That’s of course not the case for retail brands. You need to be dilligent to market the fact you have an online store. Build, market, follow-up, market, convert.
Customers would love to visit your store they really would! But you need to look outside the box to find how to truly engage customers and grow your business both offline and online.