What Online Retailers Can Learn From Brick & Mortar Stores (Part 1)

By David Brussin

Special to the eTail Blog

As retailers explore new online marketing tools to increase sales, they should not lose sight of valuable lessons to be learned from brick-and-mortar retailing. These include a strong focus on the customer experience and a willingness to experiment to discover what works best with different groups of shoppers. Marketers and merchandisers who possess traditional retailing wisdom should be able to consistently improve the performance of online channels using new testing and targeting solutions that optimize website content. Below is a list of tips to help retailers maximize the return on their website investment.

Testing for Seamless Purchase Flow: Getting people through checkout once they have decided to purchase is a key piece of the digital shopping puzzle. A clumsy checkout process can sour the customer experience and lead to cart abandonment and lost business. Before you invest heavily in driving traffic to your online store, make sure you minimize friction in the “purchase flow” by testing and adjusting the key screen elements. Remove any unnecessary steps.

Content Targeting from Site-Browsing Data: Noting what visitors do while they are on your website – what categories they browse, which products they buy – enables you to customize page content and make it more appealing.

Geo-Targeting and Tax Free Shopping: Today’s consumers routinely focus on the total cost of an online purchase including shipping and tax. By leveraging geo-targeting capabilities — adjusting online messaging and offers based on user location, as determined by the IP address of their device — retailers can notify their shoppers of potential savings based on their location. For example when there is no sales tax associated with a purchase in their state, say so up front! Chances are you will reduce bounce rates and increase revenue per session.

Customizing Content for Convenience and Compliance: Another way to increase online traffic and sales is by decreasing customer frustration. When your online store cannot sell certain items to certain locations, you can “hide” those items from a shopper in that area. This reduces overall shopper frustration and the number of costly calls to customer service.

To Be Continued…

As retailers begin to test their site’s content they will experience first-hand how implementing the above strategies can vastly improve their online sales. Stay tuned next week for part two, which will highlight the wisdom of old-fashioned merchandising tips like badging, as well as the revenue boosting effects of email-to-website-consistency and segmented shipping offers.

David Brussin is the Founder and CEO of Monetate, a provider of testing, targeting and content optimization for websites.