It’s not news that younger consumers find most retail experiences to be ho-hum. Unless they are shopping for deep discounts, they just don’t have many reasons to walk into stores. And it’s not just the younger consumers either – market research shows that consumers in general prefer to do their browsing, searching, and shopping online, and only after they find something they want do they go into a store.
So what does it mean to find “something they want?” Are we just talking about a product? Actually, no.
Consumers are looking for the whole package.
- First, they are looking for very specific products, and tastes are becoming more highly individualized as the internet makes it easier to find very specific, individualized, or unique things.
- Second, they are looking for the right price. The “right” price doesn’t always mean the cheapest price! Across the board, consumers report they are willing to pay a fair price for unique items. But if your prices aren’t displayed, they will assume that your prices are too high. So your prices must be visible to today’s online visitor.
- Third, consumers are looking for businesses they can trust. They use reviews, ratings, and other forms of social proof to help them decide if a business is trustworthy. And don’t worry that only a business with 5-Star ratings can earn trust. Consumers have become very savvy about looking at negative reviews, seeing if they agree with the point-of-view of the reviewer, and looking at the way the company handled the complaint. A well-managed complaint can be a trust-builder for consumers.
- Finally, consumers are looking for businesses they feel good about doing business with. What makes a company appealing to one person doesn’t necessarily work the same way for a different person. But they all look to your stories and content to make this judgement: The way you talk about your story, your business, your employees, your suppliers, your community, your products, and your social responsibilities will all have significance for consumers as they search for connection.
This sets a pretty high bar for your online presence, doesn’t it? Yet these are the essentials for attracting consumers to retail today. The National Retail Federation stated in its 2019 report that “it’s no longer about retail versus online. It’s about retail’s dependence on online.” That’s a game-changer.
When you are developing your online tools and content, make sure you do the following things right:
- Show all your inventory, with prices. Use excellent photographs and well-written copy. Make sure your copy contains the search terms that a consumer might use to find that item!
- Show more than your own inventory. Work with your vendors and supply partners to feature inventory beyond what you have in the store. It’s not possible for every retailer to carry every eclectic thing consumers are looking for. By offering an extended inventory of things you can bring to the store quickly, you expand your appeal to customers that are on-the-hunt for something special (if you need help with this, let us help. VDB’s marketplace can be used to extend your inventory in just this way).
- Show your prices! Don’t worry about being price-shopped. Just accept that price shopping is easier than ever before and it’s going to happen. But you don’t need to be the cheapest seller to get a buyer in your store. Consumers consistently demonstrate that they are willing to pay more if all the other aspects of your business and products are more appealing than your competition. Showing your price won’t cause you to be passed over, but not showing your prices certainly will (this is another way VDB can help. Ask us how you can use or integrate VDB for your online presence, and how you can use mark-up modes to display the right prices for your business).
- Make it easy to rate, review, and comment on your business and your products. Do the same on your social media accounts. This type of transparency is a significant trust-builder.
- Make sure you tell your story on every page of your website. Your philosophy and mission should come through consistently in every product description, page, and message you share.
Does this seem like a big list of things-to-do? Well, it is perhaps. But these things are also the minimum standard necessary to get today’s consumers into your store.