How Ecommerce Drives In-Store Sales
About The Author:Jennifer E. Dunphy is the founder and marketing executive of the Internet Marketing Firm Vayu Media. Under Jennifer’s leadership the firm has become the leading SEO firm in Atlanta and is regarded as the most reputable Search Firm in the South Eastern United States. Jennifer has been a featured speaker on the subject of SEO at the Digital Summit 2011 and most recently was selected to speak at the eMarketing Association conference in San Francisco. Jennifer has been nominated for the distinguished Atlanta Business Leaders 40 Under 40 award by The Atlanta Business Chronicle, TAG Marketing Awards and LEAD Atlanta 2012, as well as Entrepreneur of the year three years standing with the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. She has consistently proven her talents in marketing innovation and leadership.
Despite a massive recession, Ecommerce growth has been skyrocketing over the last ten years. Online sales have steadily continued to grow and over 150 million people in the U.S. have bought something online (67% of the online population). Gone are the days of sitting around and waiting for customers to walk through the front door to make a purchase. In this day and age, there is no reason why every single brick and mortar business shouldn’t have an Ecommerce website enabling them to open their doors not only to the local community but to the entire world. In order to succeed in sales, both online and offline, businesses need to develop and leverage a tactful Ecommerce strategy. Retail therapy is no longer an in store only adventure. While it can be fun to walk around a physical store, see and touch all of your desired items, the convenience of online shopping is unsurpassed. Over 83% of consumers in North America have shopped online. Even more important is that data showing that Ecommerce sales are growing by more than 10% each year and are projected to reach 278 billion dollars by 2015 according to Forrester Research. With numbers like that, businesses cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity to capitalize on this rapidly expanding market. Most businesses entering the Ecommerce game may wonder; what role does their website play in driving sales to their physical retail location. The important factor to consider is: What do consumers do online prior to making a purchase and how can businesses leverage that information to better reach them during key stages of their decision making process? This will not only drive more in store purchases, but it will also drive Ecommerce purchases. Even brick-and-mortar businesses can leverage their web presence for greater sales.
Leveraging Ecommerce to Increase B & M Revenue
One such example of a brick and mortar business successfully expanding into the Ecommerce game is that of Floor and Décor Outlets of America, who serve do-it-yourself consumers and professional contractors, focusing on the residential remodeling and home improvement segment. Floor and Décor Outlets was a traditional brick and mortar business with 27 physical store locations in 10 different states when they decided to enter the Ecommerce playing field and expand their opportunity to sell to a larger audience. Within a year and a half, they had created a multimillion dollar new store; an Ecommerce store! Not only did their new Ecommerce website generate millions of dollars in revenue for their new Ecommerce division, but it also increased their in store traffic as well. They have since opened new physical store locations as well as continue to grow their Ecommerce division. They are now up to 30 store locations and continue to open additional brick and mortar locations throughout the U.S. Now, if Floor & Décor can sell hardwood flooring and tile online, what products are off limits? How did they achieve such tremendous success in such a short period of time? They hired an Atlanta SEO company, Vayu Media, to assist them with their online marketing goals. They successfully implemented a SEO, PPC, and a social media strategy, that not only drove Ecommerce sales, but in store sales alike. Floor & Décor’s website now boast over 2 million visitors a year and this number is growing. Their organic search revenue has grown over 200% in the last six months. But the company doesn’t want to stop there. The number of keywords that consumers are searching for on Google, BING or Yahoo is basically limitless and offers a lot of opportunity to go after many niches. With every dollar Floor & Décor invested in SEO, they brought in over $12 in revenue. Now that is an ROI that I can get behind. This same level of success with Ecommerce is available to all brick and mortar businesses.
Integrating Social and Mobile Commerce
With the growing Ecommerce landscape, there are more ways than ever for businesses to get into the game. Facebook Ecommerce, commonly referred to as F Commerce, without doubt, is something that businesses should consider testing out to support their website. 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know . Furthermore, 90% of all purchases are subject to social influence. Although Facebook commerce thus far has been a lot about experimentation for retailers, social commerce revenue is projected to reach an astounding $30 billion in annual revenue by 2015, and F Commerce is likely to be a big piece of this development. Food for thought, Living Social had over 42,000 Facebook shares for their $20 Amazon voucher. Ticketmaster touts $5.30 of direct ticket sales every time a user posts an event to Facebook. The power of social commerce is tremendous. It’s really quite simple; shares, fans, friends, followers and connections all boil down to one thing… Sales, both in store and online!
With the technology advancements in smart phones, we are now poised for another huge leap in Ecommerce growth; mobile commerce, commonly referred to as M Commerce. Consumers are embracing mobile commerce more than ever and mobile is now strategically important for all retailers. Mobile commerce growth is set to quintuple over the next five years, resulting in $31 billion worth of annual sales by 2016. Research has shown that web retailers could increase consumer engagement by 85% with a mobile-specific website. Consider this, There are 3x more smart phones being activated every minute around the world than there are babies being born. Mobile commerce solutions could see a shift from apps to m-sites in 2012, as statistics show that shoppers prefer mobile sites vs. apps. As with traditional Ecommerce websites, the ease of navigation and the speed of a mobile site is crucial. 58% of mobile phone users expect mobile sites to load as quickly, or faster than desktop sites and 38% of users are willing to wait 30 seconds or less to complete a simple transaction. Mobile users expect quick and consistent transactions every time.
Taking the Dive
If you think that your business may be ready to dive head first into the Ecommerce playing field, here are a few things to consider. Retailers are experts in the art of persuasion when it comes to their physical stores, but there are new factors that come into play with Ecommerce. The visual cues become increasingly more important because there is no sales associate present to address a consumers questions and concerns or to offer guidance. The visuals need to be appealing enough to evoke emotions and entice the consumers to complete the transaction. 80% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product. Color has a unique ability to captivate shoppers and change their shopping behaviors. If you have the same item in numerous colors, make sure that your website displays all of the variation of the product and you will likely increase your sales. Color is not the only item that influences consumers behavior. For online consumers design, buzz words and ease of navigation affect their buying habits. 42% of online shoppers base their opinion of a website on the overall design alone and 52% of shoppers are not likely to return to a site with poor aesthetics. So, if you are going to invest in an Ecommerce website for your business, you want to make sure that you can not only get consumers to your site, but keep them there and have them complete the buying process. Just as important as the aesthetics is the speed of the website. Having a website that runs even 5 seconds slower than your competitors website could be the difference in getting a sale or losing the sale to your competitor. 64% of online shoppers have stated that they have abandoned an Ecommerce shopping cart because of a slow website. Ecommerce success metrics should not be solely measured by conversions rates and average order value, but engagement frequency, duration, and quality as well. Engagement Matters Most In Digital Commerce of all types, whether it is traditional Ecommerce, F-commerce, or M-commerce. Your main objective should be to create a seamless customer experience on your website, Facebook page and mobile site. In 2012 U.S. retail Ecommerce sales are projected to ring is at 209 billion dollars, this is an opportunity that you do not want to miss out on!