The 4 Pieces of Content That Can Make or Break a Retail Website

Small businesses are scrambling to launch e-commerce websites to make up for a lack of foot traffic in their brick and mortar stores during the pandemic. I recently wrote about an artist who reaped some unexpected benefits from this transition.

In their haste to get websites up, retailers might be tempted to launch with the bare minimum. This can backfire if customers visit the new site and have a less than satisfying experience – they won’t return. Spending a little more time preparing the right content allows store owners to take advantage of selling opportunities they don’t have in a brick and mortar store, and ensuring that customers return.  It’s worth taking that time. Here are four pieces of content that can make or break a retail website.

Give them a reason to go deeper

When a customer lands on your web site, it’s a bit like standing outside your store window. You need to give them a reason to come in. Use your home page to offer an enticing special or showcase a product that everyone is looking for with a big visual statement. Yuba Blue, a women’s apparel, home décor, and gifts shop does this very well with a prominent rotating carousel of attention-grabbing images, starting with a colorful selection of hand-made COVID masks.

Your home page is also an opportunity to introduce shoppers to the full spectrum of products that you sell. Much like deciding how to display merchandise in a store, this requires a delicate balance between overwhelming consumers with options and collecting related products in categories that make sense. A communications consultant with information architecture skills can offer valuable insight into which top level category labels might make the most sense to your customers.

Give them a reason to keep shopping

Whether customers know exactly what they want, and are visiting your website to buy it, or they are just enjoying the thrill of the shopping hunt, you can help them make a decision on a purchase by including both a clear picture and a thorough description. Your product description doesn’t have to be as long or creative as the famed J. Peterman catalog – one or two sentences can be enough, and you might be able to cut and paste everything you need from a wholesale website.

Yuba Blue does this really well – while they might not have every single product in their brick and mortar store listed for sale  on their website, the curated collection on the site includes a brief description that gives most visitors the information they need to make a purchase decision.

If you have the time and writing skills to embellish these descriptions, you can create a miniature advertisement for each item, or explain the benefits of a product that consumers might not be familiar with. Reflecta Creations sells healing crystal jewelry, and their website is the perfect vehicle to educate consumers about the healing power of crystals – something the average consumer wouldn’t necessarily learn in a traditional retail environment. By including basic information about the size of the piece as well as a detailed description of the healing properties of each crystal, owner Paul Jordan is creating an informed market for his wares, empowering customers to choose the crystal that is right for them.

Give them a way to talk to a human

Imagine your customer, standing at the cash register and confused about how to check out. Or wondering if the socks they chose will fit a 5-year-old, if that sweater is actually navy or black, or whether the massage oil they are looking at contains soy or not. People will abandon your cart and immediately go somewhere else if something interferes with their purchase experience. Make it easy for your customers by providing your phone number or a chat window on every page, or make sure there is a prominent link to a contact page with that information. Just make sure someone answers the phone, or gets back to your customers in a timely manner.

Give them a reason to buy from You

Let’s face it. When you go online, you are competing with Amazon. Your customers need to know why YOU are special and whey they should spend a few extra dollars to support a small, local shop. You can’t chat up every customer who enters your store with your life story, but on a website, you can give them a reason to choose your store. In her store Make Local Habit, Aria Griffis sells one of a kind treasures make by local community members. She does a beautiful job on the Make Local Habit website explaining how her store supports local artists and creators and why her mission matters.

There you have it. Four basic ways you can use content to enhance the shopping experience on your small business retail website, and four ways you can lose customers by omitting content that helps them to make a purchase. Do you need help crafting enticing product descriptions or telling the story of your business on your website? Contact me for information about how I can help enhance your customer experience.

Originally published on Erika Kosina’s blog