“Why do I need a website if I’m not selling online?”

E-commerce has certainly changed the way we shop. We’ve all heard about the decline of traditional retail. In-store sales are down, stores are closing. But traditional retail is not dead. It is evolving and needs help from the web.

When a customer visits a retailer they are looking for inspiration and a great sales experience. Retailers that are willing to compete on the service experience will not only survive but can thrive in the changing retail landscape.

How a website helps a retailer adapt to a changing retail world

A recent retailer survey indicated that 82 % of customers will research a product online before purchasing. However, when it comes time to actually buy, many would prefer to buy the item in the store. This is why a well-designed, professional website is so important.

As an example, a person discovers their lawn mower is not working. They conduct an internet search for local lawn mower repair, small engine repair or lawn mower for sale. One of these searches leads them to the page of a local shop that sells and repairs lawn mowers. As they browse the shop’s website they are delighted by how easy it is to navigate. They are able to “get to know” the shop. And, they come across some handy tips on lawn mower maintenance. One of these tips helps them address their current lawn mower problem.

This website has just become a trusted source of information for this person. They trust it enough to sign up for the shop’s mailing list. This allows the shop to email them more information such as notices of special sales events, newsletters or other special promotions.

It is likely that the person will visit the store. Because the store owner had a great web site with the proper design, the site was able to provide a great first impression and a positive experience for the person. That person knew who they could trust before ever stepping foot into the store.

Does your website support the modern shopping experience?

Your website should be an extension of your storefront. It should help bring customers to you and enhance the overall shopping experience. By providing helpful advice and sharing expertise to solve problems you will become the retailer they turn to when they are ready to buy.

Here are some tips to help see if your website is ready for the future of retail:

  • Does your website provide information that is useful and helpful?
  • Can someone get to know you and your business by browsing your website?
  • Is the messaging consistent with your social media presence (Facebook, Instagram etc.)?
  • Have you integrated social media on your site?
  • Has the content been SEO-optimized so that you appear in search queries?
  • Does the design support the user experience? Is it easy to navigate, read?
  • Is it customer-focused? For example, are your location and business hours easy to find on the site?
  • Is your site mobile responsive? Can someone using a mobile device easily use your site?
  • Does your site have an up-to-date design that truly reflects your business?

Whether you are providing expertise to solve a problem or giving advice on the latest fashions and trends, an effective website is key to providing an exceptional retail experience. That’s why even if you don’t sell online, you need a great website.

Lisa Popa, New Edge Web Services LLC

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