Let’s say you’re a business owner. You’ve developed a good product – a line of children’s clothing, for argument’s sake. You’ve set-up a storefront downtown. It’s a cute place with a bell on the front door and an old-fashioned cash register that goes ‘ka-ching’ every time you make a sale.
It is a fun sound.
Right now, the store is doing extremely well. Congratulations! Foot traffic is constant. People come in all day, talk with you, love your products, and tell their friends about it. Stock flies off the shelves. You devote more time and energy to manufacturing, to meet the growing demand.
After establishing the business locally, you want to duplicate this success online and reach a wider audience. Who knows, maybe become a household name. You ask customers for feedback, conduct market research, identify your best products, invest in a website, and set up e-commerce channels.
Fast-forward six months.
Despite healthy traffic to your online store, sales are low with no signs of improvement. You run paid ads, update your social media accounts weekly, and devote precious time to getting people to your product pages – but no dice.
It doesn’t make sense, considering the momentum you started with. Your in-store register continues to ring, but online success evades you. What now?
A major obstacle for brands and companies who are transitioning online is getting their product in front of the right people.
Before sinking any time and money into generating content for specialized sales channels, there’s the task of getting to know your customers: who they are, how they’re shopping and what moves them. Not knowing these things is like firing a T-Shirt gun at a crowd of people who are facing the opposite direction.
But what happens if you get those things right and your customers just aren’t responding to your message?
In taking a step back to look at the big picture, it’s critical to know whether a block in sales is channel-based, or if you’re seeing a brand-wide problem related to e-commerce compatibility.
How does your brand story look online?
Re-creating a warm, cozy store online isn’t as simple as using the same fonts, colors and logo.
Ask yourself: what does my story look like online? Are visitors getting the same feeling as visitors to your downtown store? If you’re using a platform like Amazon or Etsy, think about how you are representing yourself – are your images clear, is the copy gripping, would you choose your product over someone else’s?
It’s important to get feedback from people who you trust will be honest. Friends and family members are influenced by their connection to you, which makes their opinions softer than a total stranger’s – which is who you will need to appeal to.
Your digital shoppers aren’t necessarily the same people coming to your store. Aiming for a digital audience means reaching people with different expectations, who are browsing different options and have different price sensitivities.
The best thing you can do is seek out cold, honest feedback from someone who understands e-commerce and your brand, so that you fuse the best of both worlds together.
E-commerce is fiercely competitive. Unless you’re unique selling proposition (USP) is clearly defined, easy to relate to and optimally-placed across digital channels, it’ll get lost in the white noise of brands and businesses offering variations of the same thing. In a world where everything we buy is fed to us online, the only point of separation is presentation.
With the constant flow of information and products coming at people, the average attention span (according to an article in Time Magazine), is roughly eight seconds – that means every pitch has to be executed quickly. Unless the people going to your digital store know immediately what makes your brand or product unique, it’s at risk of blending into the fog of similar options.
You don’t need to change your brand to take it online. There’s always a way to stay true to your story and product, but communicating that message means re-shaping it to connect with people digitally. If you can get that right, your online store’s cash register will ring out in time with your downtown store.
Clayton Truscott is a brand content coordinator at NetRush Inc., an online retailer headquartered in Vancouver that partners directly with companies to control and optimize their brand on the Amazon Marketplace. You can reach him at email@example.com or via twitter @NetRushCom.