More and more people are learning to do their window shopping through the screens of their phones. It might seem to you that e-commerce and local SEO are two entirely different things, but they’re actually well-connected. A lot of people think that local search and local SEO are all about store locations and offline purchases. The same people typically think that e-commerce is a separate thing that deals with online transactions. However, there are many notable cases where e-commerce merges with local businesses. This is because a lot of online brands have started to realize that there is a lot of benefit to having an actual storefront for marketing and sales. The benefit lies mainly in boosting sales online and boosting sales on the offline stores simultaneously. Of course, the same benefits apply if we take a look at this situation from the other way around. E-commerce is also pretty useful for stores which previously operated only offline. When both offline and online channels are open for one business, customers can get their needs in one place and even continue their search using a different device or location.
If you have an offline-only business, e-commerce is an option that is worth looking into. How can you boost your business through e-commerce? Here are some tips that might prove useful:
1. Consider Your Website as Another Storefront
Usually, for local business owners who have been in the business for a long time, it’s hard to dedicate the same investment to the website as they do to the offline store. However, statistics on consumer behavior shows that there are actually more visits to businesses’ websites than their actual stores. Also, consumers who visit their offline store tend to look them up online before visiting the store. The good thing is that if you do not have the resources to invest well in your website, you can always go to e-commerce sites instead. These e-commerce sites won’t demand so much investment as websites. One thing to note though is that consumers can get turned off my negative online experiences. This means that even if they had the intention of visiting your offline store if they are not satisfied with your website or page, they might end up canceling their planned visit. Hence, you need to provide the best online experience to your customers with the idea that your website is an extension of your offline store.
2. Make Sure Online Information is Updated Regularly
It is important to update your online information on a regular basis to ensure that the information stays accurate at all times. Customers will know outright that a website or page is poorly-maintained when the information is inaccurate. For instance, if you still have a winter sale announcement posted on your website and it’s already summer, people won’t take your brand seriously. In the same way, if the prices on your online pages are not updated, you could end up having problems with your customers. If the customer looked up the prices for your products online and a product only cost $10 (2017 price) and the actual price in your store is $13 (2018 price) it would lead to complaints and bad reviews. Other customers might even threaten to take legal action! In case you cannot update your website because information is not available, it is a good idea to include an advisory apologizing and telling the customers about the issue.
3. Don’t Hide Prices Online
A lot of business owner have this misconception that it’s better not to display price information online so that the customers will visit the actual store. Some businesses do not share information about their prices online because they don’t want to be beaten by their competitors based on pricing. This is a poor marketing method. Pricing is a huge factor when consumers make purchasing decisions. However, if you fail to show your prices, it is likely that consumers will stop considering your product and would go straight to your competitors.
4. Provide a Complete Shopping Experience
A lot of business owners only provide basic information online. It’s not exactly helpful when it comes to consumers decision making. Consumers will likely go for products with complete information. If possible, set up your website so that your online visitors will have almost the same experience in visiting your site as they would have if they visited your online store. Most of the time, consumers research a lot online first before deciding to visit the actual store for making the purchase. An effective method would be to have high-quality videos for each product.
5. Don’t underestimate in-store product interaction
No matter how you update your online site, you won’t be able to let the customer touch, feel, smell or taste the product that you have. You will probably have to compensate by extending the return period or offering a trial program. However, these all require a lot of commitment. A lot of in-store customers visit the stores because they want that interaction with the products. Some also visit the stores to avoid shipping costs. This means that customers visiting offline stores have the highest potential to make purchases.
Pay attention to third-party listings
You can always use third-party sites such as Google Shopping and Amazon to extend your storefront. These third parties provide an interactive sales nature as well as API programming. This means that it’s easier to update your information and keep it up to date. Of course, these cannot substitute a dedicated website for your local business but it can really be useful in a variety of cases.
When it comes to local businesses, owners usually spend a lot of their time and investment in the actual store. They tend to disregard the online experience of their customers and just focus on the in-store customers. However, times are changing and window shopping is now done online. It’s really worth investing in e-commerce to give your business a chance to bloom in every way possible.