The world in which we buy and sell today has come a long way from its traditional means of a customer walking in to a shop and making a purchase. The turn of the millennium has brought with it a shift in how the business/consumer relationship is seen. More emphasis is being placed on ensuring the customer’s needs and expectations are being met and rightly so.
It is now almost impossible for any retailer to deny the power of the internet. Yet some businesses are still sceptical as to its advantages and how it can improve the business’ overall relationship with its customers. To put it simply, the internet provides your business with a brilliant platform that allows you to interact, monitor and advertise to your customers with ease.
One cannot stress enough how important it is that a retailer has a well-designed, user friendly website. The purpose of your website is to introduce and educate potential customers of your brand and this cannot be done if the customer is unable to navigate the website. Retail giant Harvey Nichols found that using a cool layout, aesthetically pleasing product pictures and simple navigation really helped to make its website a success. It also noted the importance of having a website that loads fast as this is vital to keeping the customer’s attention. Again, it all comes back to the shift towards a better business/consumer relationship. If you still aren’t sold on this idea, a well-designed, user friendly website reduces the number of other hard promotional costs associated with advertising such as TV, radio, and printed brochures.
Social Media platforms provide a convenient way for retailers to reach their target audiences. Retailers are increasingly turning to social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook to advertise sales, promotions, and new product lines, and why wouldn’t they? At the end of 2016 Facebook had an astonishing 1.86 BILLION active users! Social Media provides retailers with a wealth of information previously unavailable to them through traditional means of advertising about their potential customers. Since social media is a two-way interaction between the retailer and the individual, retailers can quickly gain an understanding of which of their products are favoured by their buyers and what aspects of the retailer itself do the consumers identify and relate to. Diamond Candles, a business based in North Carolina, is a social media success story. When first launching, Diamond Candles had no marketing budget and therefore turned to social media in order to gain traction in the marketplace. Consumer’s began posting pictures of the candle wax melting away to reveal a diamond ring on to various social media platforms. The company promoted these images on its various social media sites and to great success as nowadays Diamond Candles has over one million likes on Facebook and reports that approximately 15% of its overall sales comes from Facebook Ads.
However, it is extremely important to evaluate how effective your online marketing strategy is through measuring its results. Measurement is as relevant for retailers as it is for any type of business using social media to reach out to target audiences. This can be done by:
- Measuring Conversations and Engagement with the Business – this involves tracking how many people are commenting, liking, and sharing your content on social media. If a business generates lively discussions and active participation from fans this is a strong indication of brand affinity and trust.
- Benchmarking – as soon as a strategy is implemented or a campaign is launched you should remember to record their starting point. It will form the benchmark that you use to push off and go forward.
- Measuring Click Through Rates – retailers can measure engagement and the popularity of their content by finding out how many people are clicking on the links included. This is a good indicator of which content is working best and which is not working at all.
- Identifying traffic referral sources – it is simple to find out how much of an impact social media is having on a retailer’s website traffic using Google Analytics. The tool can show you where traffic came from, whether it’s from a link on Twitter or a post on Facebook.
From this it can be said that retailers have a lot to gain from having a strong online presence and nothing to lose from giving it a chance. The era of technology is here so don’t let your business get left behind.