Successfully selling a product, whether one sells online or in a retail store, has similar traits.
However, there are some significant differences that online retailers need to keep in mind in order to be even more successful.
The holiday shopping season is one of the best ways to observe online shopping in action, as it is a heightened activity compared to other time periods during the year.
Lesson One – BE FOUND BY SEARCH ENGINES
If you cannot be found your sales will suffer. Search engines, with Google being the biggest, are the main way that people find the products and services they are looking to buy.
Of course large retailer such as Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, BestBuy and hundreds of other famous brands (including Gap or Toys R Us) have a large following of consumers who go to their sites directly. Just like you would drive to their store in real life as opposed to just going to a mall to randomly look around.
If your retail store is not search engine optimized, is not specifically designed for shoppers to find the products you are selling, you are undercutting your sales.
I was looking for a cheese gift basket recently and typed in “cheese gift basket”
At the top and rights side of the search result were retailers who paid for cost per click advertising.
When shoppers are shopping online they are going to use search engines to find what they want. If search engines can’t find you, you won’t be found.
Resources: OrangeSoda, Homestead, Register.com, NetworkSolutions all provide SEO services
Lesson Two: GIVE CUSTOMERS A GOOD SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
The experience you give to shoppers as they are looking for products on your web site is absolutely critical. For example, maybe you sell 40 different types of sweaters. Forcing customers to wade through all forty pages is NOT thinking about the customer. Enable them to filter and drill down to the 3 or 4 sweater types they are looking for.
Are you enabling customers to get as much detailed about the product as possible?
Can your customers save their products and come back later. Remember, fi they are BROWSING they might want to check out a competitor’s web site first.
Resources: A good local (or national) web designer can create a great web site with awesome navigation for you
Lesson Three: OFFER DISCOUNTS – Customers love to save money and get a good deal (just like you do).
Sounds simple, but all customers love a good sale! Email them. Twitter them. Post them on your website.
Lesson Four Segment Your Customers: CRM Rules – OFFER SPECIAL DEALS TO SPECIAL CUSTOMERS
Being able to segment your customers and provide relevant and special deals is a way to boost profits.
If you have a profile of male customers that wear white shirts with cuff link sleeves, it makes sense to send this group of customers deals for ties and cuff links.
Maybe you have a profile of 16 year olds, buying pink nail polish and green iPods. Well this customer set is very different than your 24 year old males buying football jerseys.
Having a system which enables you to segment and profile your customers, automatically, is a POWERFUL way to enable you to provide a personalized experience to your customers.
Resources: Infusion Soft, Campaigner, Constant Contact, Vertical Response and others can help you provide personal service to categories of customers.