To some, the history of retail may seem out-of-date, especially since the current pandemic has made everyone lean on the world of eCommerce a little more. However, successful businesses looking to build their online brand may want to revisit the history of retail before making the massive move.
Many of the factors that have defined successful retail stores over the years are the same, even in the world of eCommerce. Currently, about 9-10% of all retail sales are made online, and eMarketer predicted that number would reach 14% this year. The age of social distancing and stay-at-home orders will likely boost that number even higher.
This is the time for savvy business owners and retail store owners to get alone, but you need to proceed carefully. The online world presents many of the same challenges that retail companies have over the past century. You need to familiarize yourself with the basics and sit back and think about how to take your business into the digital age wisely.
From shipping to identifying your target audience to simply building a new image online with customized shipping labels like the one offered by enkoproducts, the trials you face online will echo some you have likely already faced. Here is a quick guide to building a stronger retail presence both in the brick-and-mortar world and among the digital age.
Provide a Consistent Customer Experience
First of all, if you were thinking about franchising in the real world you would stop and ask yourself questions like am I in the right location, how do I attract customers, and is my entryway clear to customers? Believe it or not, you need to consider these same questions when you are building a business online.
First, you need to buy a website domain that is easy to find and related to your business. If possible, buy your exact business name, but if you can’t, then be clever and make it something easy to remember. If your customers can’t find you they can’t buy from you. Along the same way, you need to make sure your website is optimized because search queues are equivalent to the entryway in the real world. If your business doesn’t pop up with a simple search tag, your customers will give up and move on.
Expanding this line of thought, your SEO work will also influence how you attract customers. You need to think about your customers, where they would be shopping, and how to grab their attention. Knowing what they would be looking at online can help you properly identify where to market your business.
Get to Know Your Customer Base
Before any real marketing can start however, you need to step back and really take a good hard look at your customer base. The old marketing standards still stand, even in the online world. You need to figure out the gender, age, lifestyle, location, and general interests of your customers. In some ways, social media can help you define your customer base because your subscribers can provide an interesting cross-section of your target audience. The more you know about your customers, the more effective everything you build online will be.
Humanize Your Brand
Despite the technical challenges of eCommerce, you need to make sure you look at the human side of your brand online. eCommerce is most effective when people can relate and connect with your brand. The same way that advertising tells the story of a brand on the television or radio, you need to use your online presence to convey what your brand stands for. You can do this via social media by communicating directly with customers, via an About US page on a website, and by simply sharing vlogs and other personalized videos on social media that let customers see the people behind the brand.
Take a second to think about Google. You may not think of the founder, but in one second you can probably think of a few adjectives to describe it. If you had to pick, it’s probably safe to say you’ve assigned the brand a gender. The human brain automatically will start assigning real qualities to inanimate objects (or in this case brands) it is heavily exposed to. You want to make sure the qualities assigned to your brand are going to propel you forward.
Tackle the Trials of Shipping & Fulfilment
Finally, one unique, and possibly new experience that you will need to tackle as an eCommerce shopper is shipping. In the age of Amazon, customers expect quick, low-cost shipping. According to Incify.co, 79% of US consumers said that free shipping would make them more likely to shop online. High shipping costs are one of the leading predictors of cart abandonment.
Therefore, you need to figure out a way to absorb shipping costs or distribute them evenly enough between your business and the customer that you can hold their interest long enough to complete a sale. Instead of debating with distributors over shipping costs, an online business has to address the customer directly, and this customer can click away in a second. The good news is if you have developed your brand and online presence thoroughly, you can build a stronger customer base that will consider minimal shipping worth it.