Stand Out From The Crowd Online
More people are shopping online than ever before. According to figures from eMarketer, U.S. shoppers spent $343.43 billion in 2012 alone. Therefore, in this rapidly growing retail ecosystem, it’s more important than ever for retailers -- big or small -- to stand out from the crowd.
Creating a brand personality online
It's safe to say that e-commerce is the future for retail -- not just for the major household names, but also for the host of smaller stores that are cropping up every day and offering an alternative to mass-market retailers. Real-world shops have traditionally differentiated themselves on more than simply price, while products and price are obviously a central element to e-commerce success, personality is just as important in differentiating one shop from another.
As such, how a Web site or storefront looks is a key to helping smaller retailers establish brand awareness, drive sales, and build customer loyalty. With competitors just a few clicks away, the look of a retailer's online shop front can be the deciding factor between clicking on checkout or navigating away from the Web site altogether. So for smaller online retailers to evolve and prosper, it is essential that they are empowered to make the very most of their presence online and offline.
Standing out from the crowd
Whether the retailer has its own stand-alone Web site or is part of an online marketplace, it should not be confined to standard templates for its online storefront. Consumers buy into brands, and first impressions count, so retailers should be able to personalize the look and feel of their site and brand image to build lasting customer relationships. Retailers should consider these three factors when customizing a storefront:
1. Product placement: Just as many retailers would do in-store, if there is a particularly popular product -- think a Furby around Christmastime -- position it prominently throughout the online shop, to help drive additional sales.
2. Knowing the seasons: Using the Furby example again, if a third of the annual sales for the business come around Christmas, then its storefront should have a completely different look and feel during the holiday season in order to capitalize on that important trend.
3. Beauty isn’t everything: The most effective e-commerce pages have both detailed product information and a host of high-res images, as the look and information on a page are not mutually exclusive. To sell successfully online, retailers must strike a balance between looking beautiful and effectiveness as an easy sales tool.
Giving a little more
Marketplaces are there to support their merchants. The rigid set of templates that many merchants are offered restrict the look and feel of their Web site.
With thousands -- if not millions -- of retailers across the globe, many of whom will be selling the same or similar products at competitive prices, how merchandise is presented is a critical point for the success of a business. Let’s consider two competing retailers selling jewelry for Valentine’s Day. Pricing is identical, and both retailers have attractive and informative pages. The question is -- who gets the sale? The key is in the customization, and pages that flag external reviews, contain more information, better photos, and maybe even an embedded video on how to style the jewelry, could make the difference.
It's the extra mile that really counts toward the bottom line. Retailers should invest in added extras and customized shopping experiences to increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.