Your website is far more important than your shopfront

For some time I have been writing a monthly web performance report for one of my clients. Not only does the report look at fundamentals like movements in traffic and ‘bounce’ rates (how many visitors leave the site after viewing a single page) but makes recommendations for improvement.

As I was preparing this month’s report, it struck me as to just how many visitors their (relatively basic) website received compared to visitors to their physical showroom.

By my reckoning, their website received around 10 times the visitors than their showroom received.

Ten times! That’s the difference between a Broadway smash and a flop.

An uneven playing field

Of course, this multiple makes perfect sense. The amount of people who can access their website (ie. hundreds of millions) is always going to be astronomically larger than those who can access their showroom in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs (thousands).

Then there are the barriers to the visit. One means making yourself reasonably presentable and transporting yourself to the showroom (which is unlikely to be anywhere near you) while the other is at the end of either your computer or mobile fingertips, whatever you are wearing.

And the internet is open 168 hours a week compared to their showroom’s 50 hours a week.

So clearly the website has a far better chance of getting visited than the showroom – a fact that (as we discussed here a few weeks back), the vast bulk of retailers continue to ignore.

Of course, these visits alone will not get you the sale.

Engender their trust

First your site has to be professional enough to prove to them that you are in fact professional enough to do business with. Studies have shown that it only takes a matter of seconds for web users to make this fundamental judgement.

And if your site doesn’t measure up they will be off to one of the dozens or even thousands of competitors their Google search has yielded.

Provide ALL the details

Second, you have to convince them that you can provide them with what they need at the quality, price and timing they require.

This means providing them with every little bit of information they might require. Not only product or service specs but assurance measures like returns policies, testimonials, delivery costs and timings and so on.

Don’t make the critical mistake most business operators make by assuming they will simply pick up the phone to ask you these questions. They are in information gathering mode there and then and won’t have time or inclination to engage in a second ‘conversation’.

Instead they’ll go to a website that will provide them with what they are after.

Close the sale (or enquiry)

Third, close the sale as much as the medium will allow. If it’s a physical product that can be delivered relatively easily, provide a secure shopping cart that includes freight charges and provides a range of payment options.

If it can’t be delivered, provide them with the options for collection or other delivery.

If you have services instead of products, bundle them up into packages for easy promotion and online sale. Or provide a comprehensive online briefing form so that you have all the information you need to respond promptly.

Unprecedented ROI

The great news is that these capabilities can now all be done affordably, yielding a fantastic return on investment as your website yields sales and/or qualified leads.

Which begs the question.

If their website is yielding 10 times the traffic of their showroom, is my client investing a proportionate amount on their online presence?

I can tell you that given the cost of renting their expensive frontage, window displays, signage, etc they aren’t. But that won’t stop me working hard to change that.

For more Internet Secrets, click here.

Craig Reardon is a leading eBusiness educator and founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which provide the gamut of ‘pre-built’ website solutions, technologies and services to SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.


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