3 Critical Components of Your Web Strategy
Customer shopping expectations are racing ahead at light speed. We are at the point where buying online is often simpler and preferred over talking with a person. When that happens, new value is created and a new buying preferences are formed.
To build your business, you must leverage your relationships while participating in the burgeoning online channel. Intuitively, you know this because you likely buy this same way. Yet, most industry distributors are failing to grab growth from the online channel despite the rapid growth of online commerce in our industry.
Like all distributors, we face this challenge at Geiger. Just a few years ago, our customers were not using our websites to shop much let alone buy much. Geiger, and our sales force, were using websites from an industry service provider which had numerous compelling features and a very large product selection. Yet, customers did not use it much. We know this because one of the most common sources of inquiries was from existing customers sending links to products from large e-commerce players' websites.
Consequently, we invested heavily in our own custom website including building our own product database. Today, we are experiencing growth in our online channel from new business as well as where existing customer inquiries come from. We rarely get leads from competitors sites today. Instead, the inquiries include links to our own site with our own curated product list. In addition, we get quite a few direct sales from our website especially from new customers.
Interestingly, we are still seeing longterm customers preferring to purchase from a sales partner rather than directly online. Existing customers love and trust their sales partners and use the site for idea generation, but the actual order primarily comes through the sales partners (often in the form of links to products on our site). But, this is a trend that will change.
Many customers will continue to get more comfortable completing their purchase online. This will create challenges for anyone that is not offering an easy-to-use, true e-commerce experience. It’s no longer enough to have a website with great ideas, you must have a true e-commerce experience. Soon, the customer is going to require even more, as integrated order history and order status become expected.
Your customers may love and value your relationship, but eventually will begin to want to place more orders online. You must be ready for this, and provide your customer the experience they desire. When they want to buy from you via phone or email, you are ready. However, you have to be ready to take the order online and provide all the service they expect. Make 2017 the year you address your web strategy and provide the experience your customers desire.
Here are three critical factors you should keep in mind as you build your web strategy:
- Checkout price must be the actual price your client is going to pay.
- Don’t overwhelm with options. There are nearly unlimited variations of products, don’t make your customers pick every option. Give them the most likely, and you can handle the other options offline.
- Curate your product list. Do not offer every product from every vendor. Pick the best products from your top vendors, and don’t show duplicate items. You have to make it easy for your customers to decide online.
There are plenty more components to a great web strategy, but these will get you started. Finally, don’t underestimate how important you are to your online strategy. Combine your personal strengths with a great website, and you will be positioned well to grow your business.