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 just as important as your store experience.
It is estimated that 21 per cent of UK retail purchases are expected to take place online in 2023. So when considering your own website, always ask yourself what you want the site to achieve. If you want to drive sales, it needs to be set up to have your consumers coming to it. You could make the best website 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’s best that you spend as much time on planning the site as you do 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 per cent of all worldwide website traffic is now on mobile devices! According to Hubspot, the industry benchmark for average dwell time is considered somewhere between two and four minutes. It usually takes around this time to explore a website and get a feel for the design and the retailer’s offering.
You will soon know if you have the right audience coming to your website, as they will engage with you in some form; the objective is to not let them drop off and never be seen again! Play to the key strengths of the Internet, with 85 per cent of consumers researching online before making a purchase in store, make sure you use the space at your disposal to portray essential information surrounding the products.
Consumers will often visit your website for price information and user reviews, so ensuring all this information is readily available, accurate and digestible is key. Furthermore, this also helps with SEO. Potential customers will likely be looking for this info with a view to also then going to touch and feel the product in-store with a view to purchase.
Additionally, make sure your website 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 per cent 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. Our research has shown that 85 per cent 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 four minutes, the importance of the look, feel and ease to digest information and navigate their way through your site is the key to success. It’s understood that 88 per cent of online shoppers are more likely to continue shopping on a retailer website that offers a personalised experience, increasing to 96 per cent of Gen Z and 97 per cent of Millennials based on research conducted by Elastic.
Keep your website fresh!
It may seem an obvious point 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 understand 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 ratings, which is considered standard, then be prepared not only for the positive feedback but also the not-so-positive 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 per cent of online customers have avoided a business due to a negative review. Therefore, for over nine out of 10 customers, online reviews have become essential to their decision-making online. It’s claimed by Podium that 93 per 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.
With more and more customers shopping online now, 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, however, can make it personal – with the added bonus that customers will recognise a few faces when they visit your store, increasing your credentials as a retailer that values a personal approach to the customer journey.