When I started learning about online marketing, the most important thing I learned is that when everything works together, you get the most out of your efforts. I’ve found this to be especially true for a retail website.
Having a successful retail website is not just about having the primary four pages — Home, About, Product, and Contact — it’s about having all of the right components in place and how those components work together to turn a visitor into a customer.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “The devil is in the details.” Well, so are the angels. And in this article, I’m going to point out the four things that you need to check up on, in order to know that your retail website is everything you, and your customers, need it to be.
1. Is your retail website mobile-responsive?
I can not emphasize this enough:
In order to get the most out of your retail website, it must be mobile-responsive.
If you’re not familiar with the difference between mobile-friendly, mobile-responsive, and non-responsive, here’s the quick breakdown:
- Mobile-friendly websites look exactly like the original website, only miniaturized;
- Mobile-responsive websites will shift the layout of the desk-top website to make it easy to read and navigate on any mobile device;
- Non-responsive websites don’t change anything and make the visitor scroll around to view the content.
When it comes to retail websites, there’s nothing worse than not being able to easily navigate the site. No one is going to purchase a product they can’t see or go through a shopping cart experience that they can’t fully understand because the information is off the edge of their screen.
Making sure your retail website is mobile-responsive should be your number one priority.
Now that we have that straight, let’s move on.
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2. Are the primary pages doing their best work?
There are four primary pages that every retail website must have:
- Home page
- About page
- Product page
- Contact page
The important part of those pages, and how your website works together, is what those pages should contain.
Your Home page is where it all starts. This is where people stand on the “stoop” of your website and decide if they want to enter or not. It’s your front door and as such, it should be inviting, enticing, and let your visitors know what to expect if they “step inside.”
In order to do that, your Home page should answer the following key questions:
- What are your products?
- Be clear and specific
- Who are your products for?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- So what?
- Why should they care about your company or products?
- Why should they choose you?
- Is there something unique about your products or your customer experience?
- What next?
- Should your customers come to your store, call, or order online?
Don’t leave your visitors guessing. Your Home page should be specific and clear so your visitors know whether your product and company are right for them as soon as they land on your website.
An About page is exactly what it says it is. It’s a place where you can tell visitors about your company. It’s where you can share your story and show how you stand out from the crowd. In order to do so, there are specific questions you need to answer, before your visitors even ask:
- What is your story?
- Are you trying to solve a problem for your customers?
- Did you run into difficulties trying to solve that problem?
- Why is it important to you? What is the passion behind the store?
- Why should people care?
- How will a potential customer benefit from shopping at your store?
- How will you solve their problem and give them peace of mind that they’re making the right choice?
- Do you have testimonials to support the above?
- What makes your business different from your competitors?
- Do you have an in-store experience that stands out?
- Is your product better in some way?
- Are your customer services or return policies better than your competition?
An About page is where you get to express some of your passion, talk about hurdles you’ve overcome and how you overcame them, and let people know how you can help them solve their problem — whether it’s dry skin, needing a new winter coat or party dress, or finding a paperclip that works better than the ones they use now. This is your time, and page, to shine.
For retail websites, the Products page is really the most important page on the website. After all, if this page doesn’t look good and function properly, no one will be making any purchases.
Of course, your Products page(s) should include:
- Product images
- Product details – including descriptions, dimensions and options
- An easy add-to-cart feature that doesn’t navigate away from the page that’s being viewed
However, your Products page should also include these little angels:
- Images of and links to accessories that go with the product being viewed
- Options for bundling
- Images and links to similar products that will give a potential customer more options
- The ability to add more than one of an item to the shopping cart (rather than having to change the quantity during checkout)
- Easy navigation between product pages
Those are the details that turn a standard Products page into an easy, enjoyable experience for the customer.
The Contact page needs to be straightforward with no fluff or filler. On a retail website, visitors navigate to this page because they want to know three basic things:
- Where they can find you
- When they can find you
- How they can contact you
However, the angels in this page are in how complete the information you provide is.
So, instead of just giving out your address, normal operating hours, and phone number, include the following on your Contact page:
- Location information:
- Directions to your location (if your store is strictly online, make that clear, but let them know where you’re based out of so if they know if they’re still shopping locally even when there isn’t a local shop to visit).
- Include a map and a navigational link that will help customers find their way directly to your brick-and-mortar location.
- If you’re easily accessible by public transportation or located near a well-known landmark, include that information as well.
- Operating hours:
- While including your normal hours of operation is a must, think about adding a calendar or list showing when you will have extended or shortened hours for special events or sales.
- If you have different hours for customer support, versus technical support or store hours, be sure to list those as well.
- Contact information:
- Phone numbers – If you have a store phone number list that first, of course, but also list any additional phone numbers for customer service, technical support, billing, or even your business office.
- Social media – Include links to the social channels your customers can use to engage with you in other ways.
- Other means of connecting with you – Include any email addresses you have for customer contact, as well as links for live chat support (if you offer it).
If you have multiple locations, be sure to include the above for each of them and always list your preferred method of contact first.
3. Is your retail website consistent?
While each page is unique in what it does, as a visitor navigates your website, every page should have the same look and feel.
When it comes to building a brand, consistency is key. Well, let’s be honest, consistency is key in all things related to online marketing. However, with a retail website, consistent branding is what lets a visitor know that they’re on your website page after page.
While today’s website builders make this easy, you should always make sure that your retail website follows these simple rules:
- Each page should have your name and logo displayed in the same spot
- Every page should use your company colors in the same manner
- Text font, style, size, and color, should be consistent throughout the site
- The content style should remain on-brand on every page – This means that if the writing style is formal on the Home page, it should remain so throughout — don’t suddenly start using slang on the Products or About pages. The same goes for images — if you use lifestyle imagery on your Home page, don’t switch to cartoons and caricatures on another page.
Your Home page displays and defines your brand for a new visitor — so stick to that branding throughout your retail website.
Navigating any website should be easy, but when it comes to retail websites, it’s essential.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to hit your browser’s back button in order to get from one group of products to another because you can’t find a direct link in the womenswear pages to the menswear wear category.
Not only should your navigation menu to your main links be in the same place on every page, but your products menu should appear in the same place on every one of your Products pages as well. This little angel will make it easy for your customers to switch from browsing canoes to checking out tents.
4. Does your retail website pop-up?
Of course your website should pop, but does it have a pop-up sign-up form as well? And if it doesn’t have a pop-up sign-up form, does it have an inline sign-up form? If not, you’re missing out on one of the most effective types of online marketing there is — email marketing.
Email marketing allows you to target your retail marketing to customers who have asked to hear from you. So, don’t miss out by forgetting to make signing up an option on your retail website.
How it all works together
As I mentioned previously, when it comes to online marketing, everything has to work together in order for your efforts to have the most impact on your business. Each part of the online marketing puzzle leads to the next part and your retail website is kind of your hub with social media pages, ads, and email marketing all leading back to it.
Give your retail website a regular check-up so you know that it’s doing what it needs to — for you, and your customers.