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Retailer Education: Turbocharge Your Website

“If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” Sacagawea is rumored to have said to Lewis and Clark.

The internet isn’t exactly breaking news, but many retailers still haven’t figured out where their web presence is leading, according to Jeff Spear of Studio Spear and Rob Ierubino of M Prime Systems, who led the retailer workshop Turbo Charged! Get More From Your Website.

Simply having a website is no guarantee that people will come. And even if they do, it’s up to the retailer to ensure that their experience on the website will go smoothly. “I had one client who printed every web order that came in,” Spear said, “then photocopied the printout and passed the photocopy along to someone who had to reenter all the information to fulfill the order.”

Obviously, that approach doesn’t take advantage of the web’s ability to achieve efficiencies.

Yet consumers are increasingly looking to the internet to make their purchases. About three-quarters of American adults use the internet, and 86 percent of those make purchases online, Spear said.

But many retailers are ill-prepared to take full advantage of web capabilities. A successful website, Spear said, requires several attributes. It should be efficient, and easy to navigate; its look and feel should be consistent with a retailer’s image and in-store look; and it should have ‘sticky’ content—information that makes visitors dig deeper and keeps them on the site longer.

The speed of the internet—the ability to change prices and add specials instantly—and the retailer’s capability to track visitors and gather information to provide personalized information to customers make it unlike any other available form of customer communication.

And there’s more to a retailer’s internet presence than simply a website, Ierubino says. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and even Youtube offer even more ways to catch a customer’s attention.

If a retailer wants to spread the word on a sale or promotion, it may be time to ditch the coupon in favor of the tweet.

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