Is your web site pulling online buyers in to your local store?
If you’re a local business that can sell products in your store and online it’s much more likely that you have a well designed and optimized web site. Why is that and why should you care even if you don’t have a store?
Every business can apply the rules that make eCommerce sites more effective to make more local sales of products or services. There’s a lesser known secret about how your web site can drive offline sales that eCommerce practices make more clear: the secret is that good web sites influence almost $3.5 dollars of in store sales for every dollar spent online in a purchase. Three to one results should get your attention.
eCommerce has a way of driving sophistication in your web site design, offer, and ease of use (usability) honed from watching online shopping carts be abadoned or one sales offer beating the pants off a similar offer that was your worst performer. There’s a constant feedback look in the form of sales made and lost that keeps you honest. Since you’re focused on the transaction of a sale, your web site represents your business more like a star sales person, rather than the static brochure (read dull) that most local web sites are modeled after.
Here’s the latest proof of this concept.
An eMarketer study published today titled “Online Research Drives Offline Sales” reviews what eMarketer refers to as the “Precision Shopper.” That is, a person who researches a product online and then buys it from a store that is local to their current locale (hey, like we say in our Local Na8ion tagline, where you are is where it’s at). These shoppers are armed to the teeth with useful purchase information and if you’re doing your job that knowledge came from you. And why not, you’re an expert in your field.
”Today, online consumers think nothing of shopping across a retailer’s stores, Web site and catalog,” says Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer Senior Analyst and author of the new report, Multi-Channel Retailing, “As a consequence, online product research is driving more in-store sales than online sales.” – source eMarketer
How much more in sales?
“Looked at another way, for every $1 in online sales, the Internet influenced $3.45 of store sales. ”Online consumers are becoming precision shoppers,” says Mr. Grau. “They are availing themselves of the wealth of information resources online to discover and evaluate products, compare them and find where they can be purchased.” – source eMarketer
What should you do about it?
You know from this information and loads of similar research that people want to use your web site as a buying resource to check your brands, inventory, location, directions, pricing, and read reviews. What are you doing about it? You probably need to start by taking a step back and looking at your web site with fresh eyes. Maybe you paid a web site designer to set your web site up four years ago and it hasn’t changed since? That’s often because most businesses have an Internet web site relic that you need a designer or web coder to update. There’s a remedy for that, watch our video series on a free and easy to update web site publishing system called WordPress.
Once you get your web site on an easy-to-update web platform and optimize it with your local relevant shopping content, you can start tweaking your messages and offers to pull people into your store. Offer them a specific in-store special or discount. Have your customer print out a coupon to bring to the store or make it clear they need to mention your special web-to-store special to receive their discount. This will help you track your online to offline buyers. Lastly, take a monent in the closing seconds of your sale to ask your precision shopper what got them to come in to your store. You’ll learn a lot that you can use to tweak your web site and make it even more effective. For example, you may think that it’s a specific brand or service that brought them in, when in actuality it was something completely different that you had burried on the last line of web site copy. That’s just the kind of real world feedback that will allow you to feature and promote one selling point over another, just like you might make a small change in a window display to improve sales of a particular item.
Do you have any ideas that you’ve found effective for pulling online buyers in to your store? I’d love to hear your feedback.