Dave Foster on TalkFloor.com has invited me to participate in a new interview series about evaluating retail websites on FloorRadio. For the series, we are referring to existing flooring retailer websites and highlighting the good, the bad, the interesting and offer lots of suggestions.
The first segment is 9:30 minutes long and can be accessed by clicking on this FloorRadio link [note: I'll summarize the other segments in separate articles].
In this introduction, Dave gives me the opportunity to highlight how websites have evolved from static brochure-like sites to living, breathing, dynamic ones that - in my mind - resemble IRL [in real life] retail stores. Websites today truly extend the presence of a business, especially a retail business, to suit the needs and time constraints of our customers. If the only time she can search is at 2:00 in the morning, isn't it wonderful that she can still interact with us even though the physical store is closed and staff asleep?
The flip side of that convenience and accessibility is that the web site needs to be up-to-date, neat and alive - just as a store does when it is open.
Interestingly, there's a point I make that Manny Llerena made in his blog interview with me: "Begin by truly defining what you want your business to be and the customer segment you want to focus on." Think about your customers and visitors: how is your business unique? How can you connect with them? How can you draw visitors into your space so they become leads and eventually customers?
[In many ways, don't you think your website dynamics teach you more about patience and respecting a visitor's buying cycle than store dynamics do? The physical environment often seems to encourage hard selling techniques...]
Four Tips To Keep In Mind:
- Check that your website has no 'cobwebs'. Is everything up to date? What about promotions? Are they current? Out-of-date content communicates that no one is paying attention. Does that imply that you aren't paying attention to other more important details?
- Consider developing a calendar for refreshing both your website and your retail showroom. They should support one another and be coordinated in look, feel and communications. The online world is intensely dynamic and search engines love fresh content. Maximize your opportunity to get found online by ensuring that your website is frequently and regularly updated.
- Take advantage of online tools such as blogs that allow you to not only publish on an ongoing basis, but also offer the means to be human and interactive online. You get to express who you are and your passion for the business.
- Use Outlook or Google Calendar reminders to help you stay up-to-date [as well as set aside time to get started with social media marketing!].
What do you consider important when you go about evaluating websites?
There's more ahead with this series. Stay tuned!