Lockdown after lockdown, shop closure after shop closure a now familiar reality day in day out, leaving brick and mortar retailers in a desperate fight to keep their businesses a float.
We can no longer afford to wait to see if business will return to normal as it’s become quite apparent that a different way of doing things is now an absolute must! To coin the phrase that we’ve all heard over and over this year it’s time to adapt to the “new normal”.
Covid-19 has accelerated the need for retailers to capitalise on the growth of online shopping. Here we explore how retailers can adapt their previous brick and mortar sales model and transition to one that has a strong digital focus.
Firstly, let’s look at Ecommerce. Selling online is not a new process, it’s been gaining a lot of traction over the last decade. Just look at the likes of Amazon, Ebay, Etsy… some of the giants in the world of online retail. Now, we’re not saying you need to establish yourself as the next online giant (however great that would be), but you do need to have a business presence that facilitates transactions online if you wish to give your business a fighting chance in this pandemic.
So, how might you do that?
Your website is now the shop front, it needs to look and play the part. Before we spill the secrets on how to do just that, we want to eradicate one voice of concern. You might be reading this and thinking HELP my business is service based how can I facilitate sales online. Don’t panic there are ways around this too and yes, a website is still an absolute must.
Let’s take a Financial Advisor for example, so traditionally you’d meet your client in your office, offer them a drink and talk face to face. Well, why not offer those consultations over a video call (we’ve all become familiar with these after the surge of online quizzes at the start of the pandemic)? Your website will not only advertise your business and give a good indication to the user of what you have to offer it can also facilitate the booking of your consultations, add them to your calendar and take payment with a few clicks of the button. Or, what about a Make Up Artist… not only could a website sell your own branded beauty products, it could also sell tickets to your 1-2-1 personalised make up lessons.
So regardless of your type of business having a website that can facilitate transactions (Ecommerce) is a must and here’s what you should include when you transition your business online.
Your website should identify with your brand, so customers recognise who you are and what you sell from the offset. Plus, it should look clean, modern and fresh, not too much white space, not full of clutter where people can’t work out where they should click etc.
It needs to have a clear navigation. Home, Shop, About Us, Contact Us, News and Help are all baseline pages that your website requires. Another key aspect of websites being user friendly is mobile responsiveness. A mobile responsive website lets a customer browse and use your website on their mobile device without any issues. It offers a seamless experience from desktop to mobile, so regardless of where your customers are viewing, their experience is flawless.
Just like you would arrange your retail store, shoes in that area, accessories on that wall, womenswear at the front… you get the gist, your website needs organisation too. It’s a good idea to plan the categories that your products or services will be grouped into. That way when someone is browsing your website they can locate what they need with ease.
You might be familiar with the padlock symbol before the web URL when you come to making an online purchase. This is to show that your payment details that you are inputting are being processed securely. In technical terms it means that the website has an SSL. Again, if you are selling your products online then an SSL is an absolute must. You should never put your payment details into a website without the padlock symbol as your data could be at risk of hackers. Having this symbol gives the customer confidence that their payment is safe and secure.
People are unfortunately less patient when it comes to online shopping. They want to speak to you there and then, just like they would have been able to if they came into your store. It’s a good idea to have an online chat facility on your website so that you can answer any queries your customers might have before or even after they’ve made their purchase. There are certain bot chats that you can have built to automatically answer the most frequently asked questions, however these can come at a bit of a cost. If you’re not going to have a chat option on your website, always make sure there is a contact form or email address so that people can reach out to you if they need too.
Reviews, Reviews and more Reviews.
It’s so easy for people to look up a competitor online, it required a little more effort when you previously had to walk 100m down the high street to see if you could get more bang for your buck elsewhere. Now your customer could be browsing your competitor’s website within the time it takes you to finish this sentence.
That’s where reviews come in. They help you build that trust, people like to see what other people have experienced. So, whether you have someone reviewing your latest flavour of your bath soap or someone talking about how you helped them style their living room over a video call, make sure you include reviews from real people.
It’s a bonus if you can get a video review, that way people can see that this is a real person with real feedback, it’s bound to give you bonus points.
Goodbye to your physical store?
Now before your phone your local estate agency, don’t say goodbye to your physical store just yet… If you are lucky enough to still operate a store with a physical presence, you might want to consider a Click and Collect option to those customers that want to avoid delivery wait times or indeed those additional shipping fees.
Your store could be used as your fulfilment centre for the time being, especially if your order volume begins to increase and you need the space to store stock, process orders and handle returns.
Hopefully we’ve got the point across that a website, particularly an Ecommerce website can help your business battle Covid 19, but of course that’s not just it. You need to consider how that traffic is going to get to your website. How are people going to know that you exist, how are they going to trust that your business is the business they should buy from?
Keep an eye out for a new blog entry guiding you to drive traffic to your website in 2021. If you can’t wait that long and you’re eager to learn now, check back through our previous blog entries, we have plenty of advice on digital marketing strategies there.
We hope this blog entry has given you a glimmer of hope in establishing an effective Ecommerce Website and if our expert team can be of any assistance in helping your business transition online get in touch today.