It’s no longer us vs. them or online vs. offline. Bye-bye to the e-tailer upstart attacking the bricks and mortar stalwart. For most stores, the internet has become simply another channel to sell or market their message.

This month’s Top Ten Tips is all about how to make your internet window work for you. Whether it’s a marketing tool, a selling tool or both – make sure you’re making the most of your online home.

1. What’s your online presence worth? If you’re selling online, how do you judge the success of your site? Is it purely the bottom line of online sales? Do you track how many sales start online but end up with the final purchase taking place in the store? How many new customers come into your store after searching and finding you online? You should have a clear and concise way of determining if your site is producing a return on your investment, not only in dollars, but in time and other resources as well. Use this information to develop your ongoing online strategies.

2. What’s your site telling you? Are you tracking what people are looking for on the site? Do you know where they leave the site? How much time they spend on your site? Where do they go afterwards? If your site is set up correctly, all of this information is available to you and is vital in learning what changes can be made to improve upon or achieve your desired results.

3. Are you inside the online customers mind? Well not literally, but apart from improving your site based visitor analytics and clicks, you should also be reviewing your product assortment and pricing. If they’re looking for engagement rings, what stones, prices, metals, etc. are they searching for….and what do they ultimately ended up clicking on or buying? Are you seeing trends developing in these choices? And if so, are you set up to quickly optimize the assortment you offer to correspond with these trends?

4. Are your vendors on-board? Do your vendors support your online initiatives with facilities such as drop shipping? Linking? Co-op online advertising? If you’re planning to do a campaign on a deal site such as Groupon or Living Social, have you spoken to your vendors to see what product and pricing they can offer?

5. What are your colleagues doing? The Internet is a constantly changing. New features, new capabilities, consumer trends and online trends are hitting the market without respite –are you on top? When was the last time you reviewed the competitive online landscape to see what other retailers are doing? Research their sites to see what you like and don’t like about your experiences on them. Visit other multichannel retailers in other industries to see what they’re doing – it’s a learning process that never ends.

6. Do you show your customers that their security is as important as yours? According to a just-released survey by Forrester Research, approximately 50% of people who purchase online are concerned about their privacy, security and safety. By clearly and prominently explaining to your online audience how you use the data you collect and how the use of that data benefits them, such as promotions relevant to their tastes etc, you quell some of their fears and show that you take their privacy and security as seriously as you take your own.

7. What Was That You Said? Most people start their online shopping journey as comparison shoppers before deciding whether to buy online or in-store. Don’t lose them at the outset. Give them all the answers they need in order for them to choose your store over another. Be specific with product details listing measurements, carat weights, metal karatage, stone names and other information related to the piece’s components (stone history, 4Cs, a PDF of the cert where applicable, designer history etc). Give a potential buyer all the information they need, and present it in a clear and concise manner.

8. Have You Fallen Into The Discount Abyss? Does your online home sell the sale more than the style? You’ll quickly lose credibility as a retailer if you constantly push the discount message via codes, coupons and friends and family offers. After all, if a piece is selling –why discount it? Make a sale what it should be – a true sale, offering big savings on items that aren’t moving.

9. What’s Your Image Like? Highlight the product you carry in the best light possible. Ask your vendors what imagery they can supply. They should be hi-res and professionally shot. It can be expensive to shoot each piece yourself (always using a professional) – your vendors are there to help you sell their product – so speak to them, while also bearing in mind that you need consistency throughout your site.

10. Just What Are You Promoting? At the end of the day, your online home should reflect the very best you. It’s a 24/7 window into how you’d like your business to be perceived. Take a look at your site right now with the most critical eye you can muster. The beauty of your online home is that changes are virtual – if they don’t work out – you can change, change and change again.

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