4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Web Store
An online presence is more important than ever for retailers, regardless of size. Consumers have come to rely on the internet as a primary source of information to guide their purchasing decisions. In fact, consumers often complete their transactions online without ever visiting traditional brick-and-mortar stores or picking up catalogs. This raises a vital question for retailers: Does your web store have the features that'll draw traffic to your site and turn casual visitors into loyal customers?
Simply putting some products online and waiting for shoppers to find you isn't enough to attract and retain a customer base and maximize revenue from each visitor. Certainly price is a concern for consumers, whether they’re online or in your retail store, but it’s the positive experience they have with your web store that'll ensure their speedy return.
As shoppers become more web savvy, their expectations become higher. An intuitive interface, secure payment options, time-saving features and ease of use all become as important as price.
There are a number of key features any web store should have to create a positive and memorable online shopping experience. I outline four of these below. In future articles, I'll explore each one in detail and provide pointers on how to deploy and integrate a web store into your existing operation.
1. Wish lists. Time-starved shoppers often surf the web to comparison shop. A wish list provides them with an easy way to put a place marker on products they've reviewed and may want to see again. Wish lists are also an easy way to maintain a connection with indecisive browsers until they decide to buy, where they might otherwise be lost. A wish list also can serve as a gift registry, an excellent way to increase sales and recruit new customers from friends and family.
2. Individual user accounts. Providing an individual user account that requires a secure login creates a personal shopping experience that encourages loyalty and repeat buying. User accounts should be sophisticated enough to allow customers to easily track their purchase histories, order status and repair requests. For retailers, they streamline purchasing with easy tax and shipping calculations.
3. Suggested selling. A “suggested selling” feature takes the place of the skilled sales associate who maximizes add-on sales per customer. It can be used to direct shoppers to the newest products, higher margin items related to the primary purchase, or as a way to highlight the most popular products.
4. Database integration. Having to create another inventory database can be a major headache when deploying a web store. Ideally, a web store should integrate with an existing brick-and-mortar store or catalog database to save time and money on setup and maintenance. One database, rather than two, also makes purchasing, inventory control, product updating and order fulfillment much easier.
Brad Malmberg is the training manager of Xsilva Systems, makers of a comprehensive suite of retail tools tailored to the Mac platform and intended to help individual retailers and small retail chains grow and manage their businesses more effectively.