The reason your business needs a strong website can be traced back to consumer behavior. To evaluate the need for a website at all we should first look at what consumers are doing? After all, if a website isn’t important to your consumers, then I would agree, that it shouldn’t be important to you or your business. However, websites are really important to consumers! In fact, a retailer’s website may be one of the determining factors as to whether a customer visits your store at all. Yet, 29% of small businesses do not have a website.
Your Website is your First Impression
A store’s website is their first impression. Research indicates that 92% of consumers who visit a website for the first time aren’t there to buy! They are there to conduct research.
To break this down, consumers start their buying journey with a search online. When they arrive at your website, 45% are researching products and services, 25% are making comparisons between your store and competitors and 10% are looking for details about your store.
Consumers are using your website as a resource for finding out what items you carry, what services you offer, how you stack up to your competitors and details about your store. Your website is your first impression.
Furthermore, 75% of consumers judge a businesses credibility based on their website. That means 3 out of every 4 potential customers judges whether or not you are a credible business based on the professionalism conveyed by your website.
A 2016 survey of 2,000 US adults found that 45% of respondents said they were unlikely to buy from a business with a poorly designed website.
Take a moment now to visit your website. Next, visit a competitors website. What about visiting the website of a major e-retailer in your industry. Now visit the website of a big-box retailer in your industry. Which website looks the most professional? Which business looks the most credible?
Let’s put this into context.
Do you sell products that require some level of expertise? Many retailers do have some level of specialty and expertise that their customers value. In fact, it is one of the major reasons people choose independent retailers over big box stores in general. One of the biggest advantage independent store owners have over big box retailers is product knowledge and credibility. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to be the most credible business during the research process.
Let’s discuss the pet industry as an example. I’ve worked with hundreds of retailers in the independent pet space. Many of these store sell wholistic pet food products. Due to food allergies, issues with quality control and general health and nutrition awareness, the market for natural and wholistic pet food has grown substantially. Today’s pet owners are discerning when it comes to what they feed their pets. Disheartened with big box retailers, consumers are looking for companies with credibility and experience in animal wellness. Consumer research for healthy pet food products happens online.
This has represented a tremendous opportunity for health food pet stores. However, consumers judge pet stores based on their website before they ever talk to the store owner or staff. It’s the first point of contact for a potential new customer. You can be the most credible pet food expert in town, but if your website looks downtrodden, consumers won’t give you the credibility you deserve.
Any store owner seeking to establish themselves as a credible expert on their products and services need to think of their website as their business card. You wouldn’t hand write your business card on loose leaf paper would you? What type of first impression would that give off?
The same goes for your website. It is the first impression for your business delivered to a prospective customer at a point in time when a consumer is researching the products and services they intend to purchase.
Don’t miss your opportunity to create the most credible first impression.
Again, let’s return to consumer behavior in order to answer the question, Why does my business need a strong website?
81% of consumers research online before making a purchase. Moreover, 60% of consumers start their product research in a search engine before visiting a specific website.
Why is this important? Because your website is the magnet that draws in consumers researching your products and services.
Take Nourish Pet Care for example. This is a pet store in Houston, Texas that focuses on cat boarding and pet product sales. This store has focused on creating what’s known as an “omnichannel solution” meaning that they’ve worked hard to make sure that their in-store inventory is reflected on their website.
Since creating this omnichannel presence, this store has been amazed at their ability to draw in new customers due to a phenomenon known as webrooming. Retailers are painfully familiar with showrooming, yet, unaware of the opportunity presented by webrooming.
Showrooming is when a customer uses their smartphone to research a product online while they are standing in a store. Webrooming, however, is the practice of researching products in a product catalog online before visiting a store to make the final evaluation and purchase. Just like customers who intend to purchase online will showrooom, customers who intend to purchase in a store will webroom. What an opportunity to brick and mortar stores!
For Nourish Pet Care, consumers in Houston Texas have been webrooming and it’s leading to new customers. People who have never shopped at his store are googling things like, “Healthy pet food” or specific brands like, “Nature’s Variety“. Due to the catalog on their website, Nourish pet care is popping up in the search results. Combine this type of exposure with a quality website and competitive prices and new customers are walking in the door.
Without this catalog online, Nourish would completely miss these customers. Yet, capturing these visits and turning them into lifetime customers has tremendous value for this pet store.
Why is a website important? Because consumers conduct product research online. Websites are the centerpiece for directing online researchers to your business.
Online Research & Local Store Visits
If you’re not convinced that a quality website is important yet, consider this – consumer’s online research is closely tied to visiting local stores. Yes, that’s right, evidence suggests that the research consumers are conducting online is closely tied to visiting a local retailer.
According to the local search association, 27% of consumers view a company’s website when they’re ready to make a purchase. Google’s research tells us that 82% of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local business.
According to Google, 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.
One out of every three searches on a smartphone happen occur right before a consumer visits a store. What are these customers turning to retailers websites to find out? The consumers are looking for business hours, locations, availability of products, and directions. Specifically, 45% of these consumer searches on laptops or tablets are looking for product availability at local stores.
All too often statistics feel abstract. It is as if the statistics are referring to some other type of company or situation. However, all of this online research is related to local businesses. Consumers still want to buy offline locally, but they decide where they will buy online. A strong website helps captures these consumers and ensure the footfalls you deserve at your store.
Websites are not essential because web developers and digital marketers say they are important. Websites are important because consumers actions and purchasing habits show us that they value websites.
As a retailer, the key takeaway is that consumers are researching your business online before they visit you in person. What they learn about your business has a direct impact on whether or not they purchase from you.
Your website is the focal point of consumer decision making about your business. Your website should be a powerful customer acquisition tool for your business. This tool will receive visits from potential customers every single day. If your website is not up to par, it’s time to invest in your website.