How eCommerce Is Like a Retail Store

Author Justin Smith
by Justin Smith, CEO

Good aesthetics and good information are two necessary components to reaching an audience that is constantly bombarded with every kind of advertisement known to man.

You have heard that before, right? Do you really believe it?

In today's world of e-commerce and the continual growth of online business, I should hope that people understand the importance of a good homepage, and a good website all together. However, just in case you do not, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Your homepage = your storefront

Let's pretend instead of selling things online, you have an actual brick-and-mortar location. You would first have a sign in front of that location, or in the window, or something, right? You would try and make it as nice-looking as possible, right? You would not have snapshot images of vacuum cleaners in the windows of your pet supply store, right?

Your website is the same. People tend to think that because a website is cheaper to host than having overhead costs, they can skimp on the aesthetic as well. This is a mistake if you want to make any money from your website, and if you do make money from this, you are certainly not maximizing its potential. It kills me when an ecommerce site looks outdated, sloppy, or unorganized. Your site should only look like that if you are trying to sell outdated, sloppy, or unorganized items. However, if you are trying to sell nice items worth buying, you need to look like you know what nice is! Otherwise, you will just look like an amateur trying to sell a product you know nothing about. Shoppers need to be TOLD and SOLD on what looks good and you are not sellin' anything looking like that!

2. Your online store = your floor layout

An online store has navigation links guiding shoppers through a site to eventually find what they want and buy. A site without good navigation is like a store with no particular sections dividing their different products, no signage to tell the shopper what they are looking at, blank boxes with white labels but no way to open the box to see what is inside, and a hidden cashier counter…just in case the shopper actually made it to the buying stage. People are busy. If they cannot find something easily, quickly, and pleasantly, they will go elsewhere….because they know they can.

3. The information you give your users on your website = your sales associates

Bad information does not help the user buy. Good information, much like a helpful sales associate, answers all of your customer's questions and guides them to the buying stage, instilling confidence in your customer that they know exactly what they are getting and what they are getting is great. The information includes options on how many items per page the visitor can view, good product details, product descriptions, reviews, related items, availability, shipping information, sizing information, and high-quality images with multiple views and ZOOM, for goodness sake!

Imagine a clothing company whose product display in their brick-and-mortar store is just like the bad images on their online clothing store. You walk in and want to see the shirt that they have displayed in their storefront window. The sales associate takes the shirt off of the rack, takes five large steps away from you, turns back around and holds it up for you to look at it. You aren't allowed to come closer to look at it. You are not allowed to reach out and touch it. The sales associate will not turn the shirt around for you to see the back and she will not hold it closer to you for you to see any details. Oh, and you cannot try it on. See my point? You would never buy that shirt from them. You would go somewhere else, where you can be sure you know what you are buying.

Never underestimate the power of aesthetics and good information. You are trying to EARN business. Earning it is the only way you are going to get it. To earn it, you must be able to tell AND show them why they need it and what they are getting. An E-Commerce Website is not yo momma's brick and mortar store, but many of the old rules still apply. Don't forget those basic building blocks…and don't forget to make them pretty!

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