Online retail - revolution or retro?

For some, internet shopping or e-commerce is as much a part of life as popping out for a paper. For others, its uncharted water best left to the youngsters. In fact, the online marketplace has much more in common with the traditional retail environment than you might think.

When I meet a client that wants an online selling portal for their products or services, we aim to establish exactly what their potential customers want and expect from an e-commerce site. The answers are usually the same as you¹d expect from an in-store survey on any high street; ease of navigation and way finding, attractive point-of-sale displays, digestible product information and great value. Basically, we want a pleasurable shopping experience ¬ hardly shocking new findings.

Exponential Growth

What is relatively new is the emergence of e-commerce as a potential rival and usurper of physical shopping, particularly in the FMCG sector. The rapid growth in convenient smartphone and tablet technology means more people than ever are spending their cash online, and this is increasing. The challenge for sellers is to set out a stall that embraces this expanding arena while retaining the identity that their existing clientele recognise.

You Already Know How!

Even for those dipping nervous toes, creating an e-commerce site shouldn’t be scary. Once you¹ve found an agency with the expertise to guide you through the technological aspects, the rest is just a case of putting your experience as a marketer to work. What¹s a well-designed homepage other than a window display? Is there much difference between a (suggested/related products tab and the tempting sweets near the till? Even creating a site layout that caters for casual browsers as well as those that want to be with their specific purchase as quickly as possible owes much to traditional shopping aisle design.

Like physical shops, e-commerce sites require refreshes and alterations to reflect new products, promotions and seasonal changes. Today’s digital content management systems make such amends easier than ever, so stagnation shouldn¹t ever be an option.
The fact is, your customers are online ¬ can you afford not to be?

Leon Calverley