The Website is the New Storefront

If you’re a business owner with a physical location, you often put a lot of care and love into your storefront. You choose everything from your outdoor signage to paint color and decor carefully to make sure that it represents the image you want to present to the world.

And yet, how often do we think about the fact that we need to do the same with our websites?

WorldWide Ecommerce is Exploding; Are You Ready?

If you sell products through your website, that site is as important as your carefully planned storefront. Ecommerce saw an increase of over 24.8% in 2017, hitting over $2 trillion last year. And with users getting more used to buying on their smartphones and other mobile devices, it’s no wonder that mobile accounted for over 58% of those sales.

Ok, breather from those stats for a second. What does that all mean for you?

Take a hard look at your website. Look at it on your phone, on a tablet, on a laptop. Check it out on your large computer screen. Try buying something yourself through your online store. Is it easy to navigate? Create an account? Or find the product you’re looking for?

Now think about when you walk into your favorite shop (not your own of course). How easy is it to find the item on the physical shelf? The difference to a shop and an ecommerce solution is that if it’s your first time in the store, there’s usually a smiling associate waiting to help you select the right product, locate it, and facilitate the purchase.

On a website, the user is often left to their own devices, needing to be able to find anything they need. And your shoppers may be completely different. You’ll have anyone from the tech savvy millennial to Grandma trying to find a gift on her first smartphone.

Because of that huge variance, your site needs to be easy to use, simple to navigate and search for products, and provide all the information your customer might need in order to make that purchase decision. Simplifying the purchase process by allowing your buyers to create accounts for faster checkouts will make them far more likely to come back and keep buying from you. And to top it all off, it’s important that you make this all easy to do on any device.

Your Website Needs Careful Planning

A lot of this probably sounds a bit overwhelming, but think of it all this way: just as you spent time and attention on what your physical location was going to look like, you need to dedicate the same to your online retail space. Even if you don’t sell a lot of products online (or any), consumers are spending more time researching before they step foot in a physical store. Make sure they get from researching on your website to driving to your front door.

Beyond making your site easy to use, it should also match the branding of your store. A lot of businesses have less-than-unique names; you don’t want someone going to the wrong website and getting confused as to whether or not it’s your company. We’ve talked before about how your print materials and digital marketing materials should all match and that concept is true here. You want your online presence to feel and look similar to what it looks like in your store.

Doing that can be simple, too. Use your branded colors across your website, carry over similar design features from print into your web design, and if you have a clear theme in your retail location talk to your web designer about how that can be beautifully incorporated into your site.

Don’t Wait to Be ECommerce Ready

If you’re worried about how all this can affect you, the best thing you can do is start now. Ask friends, family, and frequent customers to provide you feedback on your website. Make those test purchases yourself and see where you get frustrated. All of that data and experience will help you know where to close the gaps as you prepare for your 2018 goals and beyond. After all, ecommerce, and especially mobile commerce, is only going to continue to go up.

Not sure what your first step should be? Let’s talk it through together!

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