Moving off the shelves – retailers need to be heading online (and they need do it well)

Wai_Chim_head_shotIt’s the year of online retail in Australia as consumers are moving more of their shopping habits online. The attraction of online shopping includes the ease and convenience and of course, the relative strength of the Aussie dollar in overseas markets.

Wai Chim is the Head of Content at Switched on Media, a leading search, social media and digital marketing agency based in Sydney. She has spent the past five years telling stories and writing content for some of Australia’s leading brands across a number of industries. She works to help brands think more about their online content and Content Strategy – striking the right balance between search engine optimisation, messaging and engagement .

Latest studies show that consumers are increasingly shifting from researching online and buying in store to trying out products in store and then making their purchases on line. The recent closure of Borders stores has shaken up the retail industry as well, and the takeaway for many retailers is to adapt or perish.

Getting your retail business online – and doing it right

Of course, investing in an online presence is a significant consideration, and for smaller retailers especially, it can be hard to understand even where to start, let alone how to do it well. There are so many options, channels and opportunities but here are a few key ideas to keep in mind.

1. Get your website and its content right – an eye-catching, professional and easy to use website is vital as it will be your visual storefront in the online world. This means having a clean, relevant and professional design, professional photos and images of your products and engaging content that provides consumers with the information they’ll be after. Ensure you have clear and prominent call-to-actions so they know how they can update their shopping carts and checkout.

2. Get your site to convert – E-commerce technology will be critical in converting eye balls on your page into buyers on your site. Users need an easy, safe and hassle free way to make payments and conduct transactions on your site. Sites like eWay, SecurePay and of course, PayPal offer secure merchant facilities that will make it easy for customers to check out and make their payments online.

3. Be seen where customers are looking – How will people get to your website? Search engines are key to visibility and online-shoppingunlike some traditional ad mediums, these channels are transparent and immediately measurable so you can be more targeted in your efforts and increase the value of your marketing dollar spend. It’s important to start thinking about your online marketing efforts early on especially, when you’re building your website. Too many times, we’ll find businesses have invested hundreds of thousands into a tricky web tools that won’t perform well in search engines. So what you should you be thinking about? Search marketing for starters. Even if you rely on word of mouth, you’ll find that customers are searching for brands on search engines like Google and Bing so you’ll want your site to be optimised for search and take into account SEO. You may even look to set up a Google Adwords account that will let you advertise for important keywords on a pay-per-click basis.

4. Social media and good content will add value and build your customer base – it’s important to also be thinking about your ongoing strategy and how you’ll continue to update and maintain your website and any other content channels. Retailers that do online well, use social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to engage communities, answer customer service inquiries or provide exclusive offers. It’s important to keep your website new and your content fresh as consumers want to know that they can trust the site that they’re transacting on. Nothing raises alarm bells about online shopping like a homepage that looks like it hasn’t been updated recently.

Meanwhile, while Australian retailers are thinking about moving online, the way customers are using technology is already changing. Mobile shopping is seen as the way of the future with smartphones and tablet devices becoming more popular and providing a more tangible experience to online shopping. So if you are going to be moving your store online, it’ll be smart to get it right from the get-go by ensuring your site is mobile friendly too.

Are you planning on making the move to online? What technology are you most excited by when it comes to e-commerce?
Email me at; wai@switchedonmedia.com.au

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