Retail Website Checkup: 5 Things Not to Miss

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, Products, 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 five 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. Even more important? Did you know that if your website is NOT mobile-responsive, Google will NOT show your site or pages when customers search on a mobile device? It's true. You're missing out on the majority of traffic that could be featuring your site and products, and driving potential new customers to your business - both online and in the store itself. Now that we have that straight, let’s move on.

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2. Are the primary pages doing their best work?

At  minimum 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.

Home page

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.

About page

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.

Products page(s)

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. And the products page does NOT have to be an online store. You can and should have product pages with information about the products your retail store offers! You're missing a HUGE opportunity to show up in search engines if all you do is link to brands that you offer and their products. Take the time to build out the key products on your website. The traffic your business receives online is 10 fold that of a website that links to a brand and doesn't invest in listing the products and features. Of course, your Products page(s) should include:
  • Product images
  • Pricing - mandatory for online store websites, optional for products that are featured, but not sold online.
  • Product details – including descriptions, instructions, dimensions and options
  • An easy add-to-cart feature that doesn’t navigate away from the page that’s being viewed - for online store websites.
However, your Products page should also include these little angels:
  • Directions to your store and easy access to send you a message about the product from the product page.
  • Images of and links to accessories that go with the product being viewed
  • Easy navigation between product pages
  • Online store:
    • Options for bundling
    • Images and links to similar products 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)
Those are the details that turn a standard Products page into an easy, enjoyable experience for the customer.

Contact page

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
That’s it. However, the angels on 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.

Branding

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.

Navigation

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 cattle feeds to checking out lawn and gardening supplies.

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.

4. Add a Blog area to your website.

From a practical standpoint, adding a blog to your small-business website just makes sense. With minimal effort you can help to boost search engine rankings, build credibility, increase website traffic and foster relationships with customers. A blog is a series of articles you or your marketing agency write about key events, products, and topics that are pertient to your small business. From new product announcements, to local store events, or how to plant onion sets, a blog allows you to showcase your expertise. Best of all this content can be repurposed for your email newsletter and social media. Your blog content allows you to be found on search engines by people searching for these topics. It's well worth the time and money spent to add 3-4 posts a month on your website. Google will thank you for it by sending more people your way.

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. Have questions? Call us and we'll help you out.  

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