In 2021, online retail was estimated to have made up nearly one-fifth of total global sales. Perhaps it doesn’t come as a surprise to hear it’s projected to make up closer to one-fourth of sales by 2025 — it’s easy to imagine ecommerce continuing to grow rapidly as online buying becomes more accessible and commonplace.
However, just become online retail is the wave of the present and future does not mean that we can forget its predecessors that paved the way: brick-and-mortar businesses. There was a time not long ago when it was more normal to hop in the car and head to the mall, big box store, or local shop than it was to order an item to your home. And let’s not forget many companies today thrive using a combination of physical sales and online sales, utilizing an omnichannel strategy to thrive.
There are many valuable lessons worth retaining from brick-and-mortar shops, even for online-only retailers. Here are three to keep in mind.
Keep Optimizing Your “Storefront”
While you are furnishing a website rather than a commercial space, appearance and functionality are still paramount for small businesses online. Your landing pages are your “storefront” — which visitors use to create important first impressions about your brand, both positive and negative.
Picture walking into a brick-and-mortar store for the first time. You probably conduct a quick scan, getting a feel for the store’s layout and product selection. You’re also taking in messaging about the company’s personality and values based on your observations.
Along the same lines, ecommerce website visitors form judgements about your brand based on its “storefront,” including the home page, product pages, blog, and more. An optimized storefront will provide an enticing look and feel reflective of your unique brand. It will also provide a user-friendly experience in terms of short load times, intuitive navigation, quality imagery, and a useful search function.
Never settle when it comes to your storefront. Keep making improvements based on what customers and analytics are telling you. Keep trying to address any points of friction shoppers encounter along their journey. Furthermore, keep refining your brand over time — then making sure these updates are reflected by your website.
Brick-and-mortar businesses tend to change their displays regularly, featuring different products and decorations based on the time of year as well as consumer trends. This is a principle worth embodying in ecommerce too if you want to avoid staleness.
Streamline the Checkout Experience
Have you ever felt negatively about a store due to a frustrating checkout experience? You may have even seen the long line and decided to head elsewhere to shop. This just goes to show how make-or-break the checkout experience can be to customers.
Like great real-life checkout experiences, ecommerce transactions should aim to be:
Just like cashiers strive to scan items efficiently, troubleshoot any potential errors, and help customers find any items they may have missed, ecommerce checkout systems should do the same.
Prioritize Great Customer Service
Employees in brick-and-mortar stores go the extra mile to make people feel welcome and understood. They often offer personalized recommendations after talking to customers, too.
Facilitating a deeply personalized customer experience will help your ecommerce store acquire and retain buyers — like by making relevant product recommendations at the right points throughout the purchasing journey.
The world of retail is changing, but much remains the same — like the need for functional, engaging experiences with sellers. Getting the look, navigation, checkout, and customer service aspects of your ecommerce store right will go a long way toward securing your company’s success.