Retail is becoming more and more of an online industry these days. But when you look at local and private retailers it seems that the message isn’t getting through to many of them, judging by the poor quality of so many of their online shops.

The COVID-19 lockdown proved how necessary it is for retailers to have an online presence. Of course, not every retailer has the right kind of products or services to support an online shop. But most do. And yet far too many of them are completely failing to reap the rewards that a good online presence can bring. This was ably demonstrated during lockdown – some retailers were able to carry on trading and some of them were not. Some even saw a boom in sales, whereas others barely made a sale for weeks and had to close.

sorry closed sign

Regardless of any pandemic or lockdown, the way we now shop online is here to stay. We’re not going back to the high-street – at least not in the traditional bricks and mortar only sense. The days when customers would walk a high street looking for a product have almost gone, and they’re not coming back.

A typical purchasing process now looks something like this:

  1. Make a cup of tea
  2. Sit down with the mobile or laptop
  3. Find the product you want
  4. Look for retailers who have this product in stock (hoping you find someone local)
  5. Check which ones are cheapest and deliver quickly
  6. Check the reviews and ratings
  7. Check they have it in stock
  8. Buy the product
  9. Make another cup of tea and await your delivery

Does your online shop do all of that? If not then imagine how much business is simply passing you by.

Note… Bullet 4 clearly states “hoping you find someone local”. So local retailers clearly have a competitive edge in their town, but they need to be found and to put a bit of pride into their online store to capitalise on this.

If we look at the other side of this transaction through the eyes of a retailer, here’s what should happen:

  1. Sit back with a cup of tea, safe in the knowledge you have a fabulous online presence
  2. Be found online when the customer types in the product or code
  3. Have a very welcoming modern website, that appeals to the viewer
  4. Provide clear and well-lit product photos with bullet points of key features
  5. Display product reviews and ratings
  6. Have great copy to sell the product and stores features
  7. Clearly show the price and availability
  8. Clearly show the delivery details
  9. Clearly show the friendly returns policy
  10. Make the purchase simple

Whether you’re sitting in your bricks and mortar store or at home, you can’t beat the feeling when you hear yet another ‘PING’ from your online shop cash register, it really is music to the ears!

message to retailers

Our message to retailers

It’s not too late to get online, but soon it will be. You don’t have to abandon your high street shop – in fact in some cases it can still be advantageous to have online and high street running side by side. But people are seeking and buying products online whether we like it or not, so you have to be found online, don’t fight this.

Our six key recommendations:

  1. Do not cut corners with your online shop, have it designed by a professional e-commerce graphic designer and built by a coder.
  2. Provide lots of high-quality product imagery
  3. Provide key feature bullets and compelling description copy
  4. Have a very friendly returns policy
  5. Make the site easy to navigate
  6. Make delivery as cheap and as fast as possible
  7. Build in a decent monthly budget for marketing your store*

*Too many online retailers think that by having a website they have an online presence, that is not true. A website is nothing but a website until you start driving some quality traffic to it with online marketing.

Online retailers

Buying local is still a huge attraction

Although online retail is rapidly overtaking bricks and mortar retailing, a local retailer still has a huge advantage over a national retailer as long as they can easily be found online. By all means compete with other online retailers for sales across the entire UK and even globally. But you must own the business in your local town and make it yours as this is where a good steady flow of quality business can come from.

What if your shop can’t trade online?

We’ve found very few businesses that can’t trade online, but for those who simply can’t or won’t, a good online presence is still essential. You can use your online presence to drive business to your high street shop. In fact there are still a huge amount of people who would like to purchase in a shop, but unless you get online and remind them you’re there they will simply shop elsewhere.
A good online presence will allow you to sell to those who shop online and also attract visitors to your high street shop.

Brookstone retail appraisel

Take a look at your website today and give it a real honest appraisal. Answer the following questions and send your answers to us, we will then reply with a score on each subject from 1:10.

Send to: [email protected]

Ask yourself the following:

  1. Does the website look brand new?
  2. Can you tell what you sell without having to scroll down the first page?
  3. Is it easy to navigate within three clicks to any product?
  4. Are the product images high quality?
  5. Do you have over 5 product photos per product?
  6. Do you have key features bullets next to the product?
  7. Is the price clear without scrolling down?
  8. Is the delivery information on the product page?
  9. Is there a well written description of each product?
  10. Do you have a friendly returns policy?
  11. Do you have product reviews?
  12. Do you have company reviews?
  13. Is each of the product pages written with SEO keywording?
  14. Do you have a search function?
  15. Do you have links to your social accounts
  16. Are your contact details easy to find?

Send your answers and URL to [email protected]

How to Improve your Online Shop

If you’d like to find out more about getting your retail store online, then please get in touch with us at Brookstone, and we’ll give you some helpful guidance to get you started.

Want to read part 2? Click here!