Online – Adapt or die

Recent events have had a profound impact on shopping behavior and the retail industry. The absence of High Street shoppers has encouraged many businesses to move online for the first time or to expand their existing online presence.

But as things ease it seems evident that the lasting impact of Covid-19 on retail sales and strategies is likely to be long lasting and, if you have a physical store (or several), now may be the time to consider an online shopping solution.

If you have an existing ecommerce solution it may also be the time to ensure that you have a robust platform to complement your offline brand and omnichannel strategy

The good news is that there are now many solutions to enable businesses to create an E-Commerce website that are relatively cost effective and scalable.

More bespoke solutions like WooCommerce are proving popular as they require almost limitless functionality which can be created at reasonable cost with a development agency. Don’t worry if you’re not a “techy” – most ecommerce platforms use a simple and intuitive interface that will soon become familiar and easy to use.
But it’s not just creating the physical site that is the solution.
For a successful E-Commerce proposition there are several key steps to take and key issues to consider.
Before anything else, you need to answer the following questions:

Who are your customers?
1. Who are your primary customers?
2. How will they find your website?

For many sports retailers those primary customers will be local sports clubs and their members. For those that have diversified a little it may also be local schools or businesses for workwear. The key element here is that these are both sets of customers who have historically shopped at the bricks and mortar store.

This existing customer base is a major advantage, as businesses can get a running start with an audience that’s already interested in the store.
The additional advantage of an online store is that you will be able to showcase a much broader range of items that perhaps currently exist in store thus pushing the existing customers into new areas.

Domain name
Logically the simple domain name choice is the one that reflects the existing bricks and mortar name as this will ensure that your existing customers can find you and connect.

However, there may be a consideration regarding the potential for a wider reach which would lead to an alternative, perhaps more generic and/or specialised domain.

Select your product range and build out the store
Once these fundamentals are established the build out must be slick and professional.

Good imagery is vital alongside unique product descriptions and additional buying information (size guides etc) and strong meta descriptions should be fully completed to maximise organic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

For further SEO assistance visit the Google Search Console where keyword research can be undertaken to be sure that you are capturing targeted traffic for your store.

Shipping costs are an important consideration when buyers are making online purchasing decisions to ensure that you have attractive options which can, of course, include click and collect.

Likewise it’s relatively easy to offer alternative payment options, from debit/credit cards to PayPal and Amazon, so make it as easy as possible for the consumer to make the purchase.

Combine your online and offline effort
It goes without saying that the maximise the results for an online store that online and offline efforts should have a consistency.
Promotions and offers should be reflected on both customer touch points. Any club incentive schemes should include online and offline purchases. Flyers, leaflet drops or email marketing should be focused on bringing customers online and in store.
Include social media as an integral element of these efforts and ensure that hashtags are used to underline the content.

There are many things to consider when launching an ecommerce site, but you can help your launch go as smooth as possible by considering the following tips:

1. Choose a recognised and robust web platform, such as WooCommerce
2. Make SEO a vital part of your build – strong metatags and product descriptions
3. Tell your existing customers about the ecommerce store and provide them shipping options that reflect their requirements
4. It won’t happen overnight – it takes time to build a good online presence

The E-Commerce revolution has accelerated due to Covid and is certainly here to stay.

It’s no longer a question of if, but when, you should build it.

And to review and look at your current offering, online never stops needing improving and maximising to make sure you get the best from your offering.

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