How do small businesses with limited resources and knowledge on technology get a leg up in the increasingly demanding digital space?
There are some key factors to ensure your bricks and mortars, business remains competitive online.
First off, have a web site. Regardless what type of retailer you are, you must have a www.
For 2 reasons:Â
- if you sell products you immediately have a local, national and international market and
- customers are savvy, there are any number of reasons a customer may visit your web site before visiting your store â€“ store trading hours, location, product range â€“ from extending pre-purchasing research to very limited research, give them easy access to the information they want.
If you are a supplying a service, the information search still applies to you too and you may like to take the first point and consider how developing strategic alliances with other like-service providers could suddenly see you operating on a larger scale servicing national and international markets (the sky is the limit) for a cut of their service price and vice versa. To the second point, then consider further how you might pre-sell your service offer to secure that sale.
Then, to doâ€™s:
- Ensure your online presence represents your brandâ€™s identity. The branding, colours, themes, treatments, look & feel overall; the customer should recognize your site and connect that with your retail space.
- Provide user-friendly navigation, where product categories are easily located and sub-categories easy to find.
- Provide detailed product information supported with good photography. Your customers want to see it. They want to know what it is made of, what size it is, how they use it, what colours it comes in. They even want to know, what other products would complement it.
- Make it easy to buy. Give them every opportunity to buy it. Buy online, collect at your nearest store (make sure you provide good stockist lists). Or buy online and we ship it to you. Consider incentivising online purchase with free shipping.
- If not buying, give your customers every opportunity to Like that item. Then give them every opportunity to share that item â€“ add social media links such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter (& not to forget basic email) not just to your business but to each item.
Then Get Socially Digital
- Post new products to Facebook. But be creative, donâ€™t just expect that a picture of your new product is enough â€“ show it be used or the benefit of using it. Test which posts get the most views.
- Pre-promote in-store offers via Facebook.
- Start integrating your social media icons to your packaging (where appropriate), ie coffee cups / retail shopping bags to drive users online.
- In time, you have the opportunity to realise the commercial benefits of converting loyal customers to regular online purchasers.
Above all, remain customer-centric and you will always fulfill a need.