Most brick and mortar retailers are coming around to the idea that eCommerce is going to be a central part of staying relevant and continuing to scale their business. What was once a novelty for your customer has become an expectation (haven’t we all had the “Can I get this online?” conversation more than once) for your customers.
It’s exciting to open these new sales channels, and when done correctly it can cause an explosion of growth in a business.
But why doesn’t everyone see that success?
What are some retailers doing that cause massive growth while others can’t seem to make their first sale or reach that next goal?
The challenge is this: How do we take the success we have in our store and turn it into success online?
There are a million things I could tell you, but what are the first things you should know?
Misconception #1: Pictures of your store are the same as the feeling of your store.
Most brick and mortar retailers have a pretty good grasp of how their store feels. They understand that selling to a customer isn’t just about a product, it’s about a feeling that we give to our customer. When they walk in your store what does your customer feel? What do they smell? How are they greeted? Is there a lifestyle they are invited into?
These types of questions are what help us create an amazing in-store experience.
A big mistake that retailers can make is thinking that pictures of your store are the same as offering the same feeling as your store.
Many times, it seems like the best way we can represent our store online is to display what our store looks like to the customer. While there are places for this, it fails to accomplish our ultimate goal. Above anything else, we don’t just want to show what our store looks like, but ultimately give the feeling we want our customers to have.
To go back to my questions before, when someone visits your store several factors impact how they feel about your brand. We want to identify specifically what those things are and find ways to implement them online. For example, if they should have a “fun and free” feeling when they walk in your store, how can we offer that same feeling online? Using an image of a person experiencing that same feeling and displaying the lifestyle you want your customer to strive for would be a great place to start.
Using lifestyle photos can be one of the most effective methods to offer that feeling. Pair this with taglines and graphics that support your brand and you’ll be one significant step closer to offering your in-store experience online.
Misconception #2: My online store doesn’t need as much work.
Imagine decorating your physical store only once or twice a year. Christmas rolls around and your “4th of July” banner is still hanging up on the wall. Obviously, you would never consider doing this. As soon as Labor Day rolls around, you’d have most summer things down and we’d start moving into fall.
This seems obvious to us, right?
But why do we treat our online sales channels like this?
It’s not uncommon to see the same banner month after month on our online stores. When we fail to keep our site updated, we tell our customer that we probably don’t keep other things updated, too.
Something as simple as updating the top banner can make a world of difference.
Here are a few things you can do today to keep your site fresh and updated:
- Have a photoshoot at least every quarter (ideally monthly) to fit the current season or upcoming holiday.
- Create at least 1 new hero banner every 2-3 months (ideally monthly). If you don’t know how to do this, tools like Fiverr are great for outsourcing graphics, or you can use online graphic templates like Canva.
- Update your navigation to include “collections” pointing to the season. Consider adding “Spring Collection” or “Holiday Gift Guide” to your main navigation.
Misconception #3: Online marketing is a waste of money.
Working in retail, I belong to a lot of retail-centric groups on Facebook and other platforms. Every few weeks I see a new comment about how much social advertising is a waste of money. A business owner will boost a post and get a bunch of likes, but not drive any visitors to their site and not get any real engagement.
Do you know this story?
It’s a common one.
The truth is that social advertising is still one of the most cost-effective and guaranteed ways to grow your business online. There are small businesses that have grown by tens of millions almost exclusively on Facebook Ads.
The problem is not the method, it’s the execution.
As long as advertising has existed, some have said it was a waste of money and others were making millions. It doesn’t matter if it was newspapers, radio, tv, or modern tools like Facebook and Instagram, effective execution will give a return on your investment. (For more info, I recommend this article from Gary Vaynerchuk HERE.)
Some basics of success in social ads:
- Avoid generic “Boost Post”. You want to target a very specific audience. If you don’t have a list already, create your ideal customer by selecting age, income, interest etc.
- Have Facebook Pixel installed on your site and do retargeting ads and lookalike audiences of your web-traffic to reach people just like your current visitors.
- If you have a brick and mortar store, load your sales data as offline events to target your in-store customers to visit your store online. Again, lookalike audiences are your friend.
Conclusion: Know your customer and speak to them where they are.
Going online can be difficult and maintaining your online store will take a significant amount of work. However, in doing so you are reaching your customer where they are and allowing more and more people to engage your brand.
If you aren’t online or if your online store doesn’t tell the story you’d want, we would love to help point you in the right direction or help create a site that converts.