If you are wondering what an a-store is, this is simply an abbreviation we are going to use throughout this blog to compare an online retail business with a bricks and mortar ‘a-for-actual’ store! Here are five key areas, thoroughly relevant to the physical store, and we’ll examine how important they can also be for the delivery of an effective online presence…
Standing out in their location
An a-store will most likely be located on a street or in a shopping centre or precinct. Therefore, their shop window needs to be noticed, compared to others, some of whom may be direct competitors for the public pound. Online, through a search being undertaken, a possible customer arrives at a list of possibilities. Like an a-store, all businesses cannot be first on that list, or in a prime position on the street. Therefore, the online standout must be in the words said in the relevant, concise, and attractive description the searcher can quickly read (or scan).
Providing an enticing welcome
The storefront or shop window must attract the passing eye, making it seem an attractive proposition to stop, study it, and then enter that store. With an e-store the web design must offer the same sense of attraction. This might be generally, with an enticing homepage; or often with key landing pages, each carefully designed to meet the specific interests or needs of those searching.
Delivering an easily navigable experience
After arriving in a physical store, a customer would expect clear signage to help them get to exactly where they wish to be. They wouldn’t expect the journey to be awkward, with barriers placed in their way, or confusing or incomplete signs as they progress. Exactly the same expectations should be met when a searcher arrives at an e-store. If not, there is one physical similarity between what can then happen in either an a- or e-store. The frustrated visitor can simply leave and go elsewhere!
Offering personal help as it’s needed
There’s little more frustrating, when walking around a store, or when having found what you think you are looking for, than being unable to find an assistant to provide further information or helpful guidance. The chance to spot such ‘help-wanted’ moments doesn’t exist with e-customers. However, this help can be offered, often through the use of a chat box to quickly engage the potential customer in profitable conversation. Without this, leaving again becomes a favoured option. Sadly, in this way, so many e-stores lose potential customers that they never even knew existed!
Completing a personal transaction
Many e-stores have utterly capable shopping cart and checkout processes, but an a-store adds the human touch – even if just to say thank you. There is no reason why an online experience can’t be personalised through a ‘thank you’ page, perhaps with ways to encourage future contact.
Skilled web developers can work with a business to craft bespoke web applications, meeting the common criteria discussed in this blog. Learning from what works in a physical transaction, and applying this to online ones, is surely an a-rated way of encouraging the growth of e-business!