Rebecca Lawson

What can online retailers learn from the offline shopping experience?

When it comes to online and offline shopping, retailers must work to integrate the two in order to provide a seamless shopping experience for their customers. Incredibly, there still remains an undeniable gap between online and offline customer experience and expectation.

The search engine is your virtual high street

Imagine yourself walking down the high street, what would catch your eye? A store that is in a prime position and visually appealing, with topical and seasonal displays, engaging colours, decor, and signage? Or one hidden away in a darkened corner with blacked out windows? Well, that’s a reflection of your online store when your SEO strategy is neglected. Visibility is key; SEO acts as the signpost to tempt customers and drive traffic to the ‘digital doors’ of your online store.

Online Store layout

Retailers focus a lot on the best layout for their store, with the primary goal of getting customers to the checkout as quickly as possible, with a basket full of items. Brick stores often place certain products cleverly and conveniently at the checkout queue so that last minute necessities can be easily popped into our baskets. This little strategy can also be applied online with ‘Complete the look’, ‘Customers also bought’, or ‘You might also like’ suggestions while they browse and proceed to checkout to increase the value of their basket. A/B testing different layouts and features will also help to identify what works best for your customers to boost conversions and increase average order value.

The fitting room

Online shopping can seem quite risky when it comes to buying products without a way to try for size and test in real life. According to recent research,  86% consider it a ‘gamble’ to find the right fit while shopping online. Without a changing room for your customers to try on their items, or the opportunity to hold a product and test it out, it’s important that you provide customers with an accurate description of how an item fits and feels, what features the product has, or even use a video to demonstrate how the item should be used. For example, Asos.com use catwalk videos to show the model in the item of clothing and provide details of the models height and size so customers can get a better idea of how the item will look on themselves.

Sales assistant

With an abundance of products online boasting a variety of features all at different prices, it’s no wonder that consumers want to do their research before committing to a purchase. Reports have revealed 55% of consumers will use a retailer’s website as a primary source of information before they buy. So It’s important to provide accurate and detailed informational content to assist customers in choosing the right product for them, e.g. buying or how-to guides.

Customer Service

Online shopping often lacks the personal touch of visiting a store with staff on hand to answer any of your queries. Excellent customer service in-store should be echoed online through a personalised, fast and convenient service. An effective way to achieve this could be through a live chat feature with a customer service representative on hand to answer any questions and act as a friendly chat service. Customers need to feel valued so personalisation is key. Making them feel as though there is someone there every step of the way builds a level of trust and sense of security.

Visual merchandising

As consumers, we rely heavily on what we see in the first instance. We’re often told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but without a physical store to smell, feel and look at products before we buy, consumers are quick to judge your business based on your online store alone. Within our physical stores, a lot of thought goes into layout and displays in order to find the best way to attract customers to their store and to key products. However, online stores often lack a considerable amount of exciting and inspirational visual content. This is surprising considering more consumers would rather watch a product video than read about it. Investing in a little inspirational content, whether this is a video or creative imagery, will help to boost engagement and assist in conversions.

Although the popularity of online shopping continues to rise, alongside growing customer expectation, there is still a lot that online retailers can learn from the offline shopping experience.

At Visualsoft, we’re eCommerce experts, so we know what works. That’s why retailers trust us to build, grow, and support their business online. Join the brilliant brands already on our platform, and we’ll help you offer the ultimate shopping experience to your customers. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you grow your business online on 01642 633 604.

Information source: Quill Content

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