Online retail sales are climbing. The independent research company, Forrester Research, Inc., attributes 9 percent of all US retail sales to online purchases, and predicts that by 2014 that will increase to 11 percent. Overall retail sales were up 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, however online sales were up 13.5 percent. Clearly, consumers are turning to the Internet to find information and make purchases.
In a recent posting by Google’s Retail Advertising Blog, five notions were outlined as driving today’s retail. I’ve chosen two points to highlight which I believe can effect the way you reach potential customers.
We are all well aware of the state of the economy right now; it’s impossible to avoid the negative news reports. However, online retailers can boost their sales through deals and detailed product information. Consumers are spending more time online researching products before making a purchase. Shopping related queries are up 25% year to year and deal related queries are predicted to reach a 195% growth rate over last year according to Google’s retail team. What this means is that buyers are willing to spend time online researching products and finding the best value. For an online retailer this is a great opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. Make sure your product information is easily accessible, and if you offer specials or free shipping, that should be displayed prominently on your site. When a buyer is ready to make a purchase, your site should convey confidence to the consumer. Position yourself as a product expert by the amount of information provided. Invite customers to call if they have questions, and then answer the phone quickly and address their questions succinctly.
Today’s consumers are more connected to the Internet. Even when they are shopping in a retail store, they are using their smartphones to check the competition or gather more information on a particular product. Buyers are researching price and availability and expect delivery within two days. E-commerce store owners need to make the shopping experience easy on the consumer. Show product availability, nothing is more frustrating than finding the product you want, finalizing the purchase, and then receiving word from the store that the item is back-ordered or simply unavailable. More and more consumers are shopping online, make sure you can give them an easy, stress-free buying experience.
Consistency and Ease
Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar who also sells online, or an online only retailer, consumers expect consistency with your brand. Your online presence should reflect the same emotion as your in-store experience. And your mobile offering should be consistent with your web store. When a buyer is shopping online, your brand should convey confidence to the consumer. Statistics show that more buyers are shopping online, so as an e-retailer, why not make the experience easy and stress-free?