Do you own a brick and mortar business? Are you proud of the first impression it makes on the people who walk through your front door? Have you taken great care to ensure that your office or store reflects your profession, personality and brand? If you sell products, do you spend time every week making sure your displays are attractive and enticing? Of course you do!
So what about your website? When was the last time you dusted it off or gave some serious thought to the impression it makes on potential customers? Does it reflect the hard work you’ve put into your business? If you’re not sure, pick up your phone and look yourself up – because that’s how nearly 3 in 4 people will connect with your store when they’re looking for information about products or services related to your business.
Online research, and in particular research via smartphones, has radically changed the entire shopping experience for consumers who purchase locally.
There is no longer a brick or virtual wall between the online experience and the in-store experience: a consumer’s online experience with your website either enhances or detracts from their in-store experience.
Google – in conjunction with Sterling Brands and Ipsos MediaCT – analyzed the online and in-store habits of thousands of consumers to learn more about how the online experience affects a customer’s in-store experience. They found that more than 70% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience. We’ve parsed some of the key findings from their research to help you learn more about how you can use the virtual world to enhance your customer’s real world shopping experience.
The shopping experience starts when potential customers find your website by searching for products or services you offer, or by directly searching for your business, and they are impatient to get the information they want right away. If your site doesn’t load with three seconds, 40% of users will go to another website. The abandonment rate keeps climbing steeply if they can’t get find what they’re looking for.
These online contacts are important because 75% of people who find local information in search results are more likely to visit local stores, especially if they find the following basic information: pricing, availability and location.
So let’s say you’ve done a good job with optimizing your site for mobile devices and someone finds your information and heads to your store. Great job! However, the role mobile technology plays in the overall shopping experience is expanding far beyond the need to find your website on search and get a phone number. Once you get people in the front door, your website still matters because a whopping 42% of people conduct research online while they are in a store, and they’ll do so by using a search engine, looking at the retailer’s website, or visiting a competitor’s website.
This is a great opportunity to improve the in-store experience with your mobile website. Here are some things you can do:
Make sure people can find your website by improving your search engine rankings.
Prioritize Your Online Presence
Start thinking of your website – especially the mobile version – as your store’s new front door. Would you bring customers in through the stock room? If your website doesn’t reflect the effort you put into your brick-and-mortar, that’s essentially what you’re doing.
Do you provide great customer service by hiring people that are friendly and helpful? Think of your website as a virtual staff member and make sure it has easy-to-find information about your products and services, hours, location and phone number so you don’t lose customers before you even get to know them.
Consumers are more information obsessed than ever before and become discouraged if they can’t find what they’re looking for. Research shows that when consumers can’t get their questions answered, 43% will leave the store feeling frustrated and 41% are more likely to shop somewhere else. Make sure the information on your website is informative and up-to-date so consumers can find the information the want before they get to your store.
Keep your site updated and in sync with products and services offered in your store so customers aren’t disappointed when your menu has changed, services are different, or a product isn’t in stock.
Offer coupons and other incentives to encourage customers to visit your store.
Offer Online Booking
If you offer services that can be scheduled, create a book-online function make sure customers don’t have to call or wait for your store to open to get instant gratification.
For more information on how to bridge the gap between the online and in-store experience, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.