I hope that if you’re reading this you like building websites and you want to get more out of yours, and make it work a bit harder.
Research published last week by dotCommerce has revealed that many retailers in the UK are not making the most of their websites. They’re failing to use up to the minute tools, widgets and best practice on their sites. This means that they’re missing out on repeat visits, high value sales, and are spurning any brand loyalty their visitors may have.
The research looked at 20 of the UK’s largest high street retailers. Whilst most were found to have at least basic ecommerce functionality on their sites, many are missing out on the potential that Web 2.0 can bring them.
What do we mean by Web 2.0? It basically describes websites where the informational flow is not just company to customer, but goes the other way too, with customers contributing to and giving feedback on the website.
The sorts of things we’re talking about are blogs, videos, and user generated content such as reviews and comments. The 20 websites in the study also demonstrated little or no integration with other marketing tools such as email and social media sites.
The ones that score the highest were Marks and Spencer (82%) and John Lewis (78%). These were judged to have gone “beyond the basics” to deliver a rich website experience to visitors.
At the other end of the list were health and beauty retailers such as Virgin Vie At Home (62%), The Fragrance Shop (56%) and Avon (54%).
Most of the retailers simply placed their products on the page and allowed people to buy them. Just 45% had any kind of editorial on their sites. Only 10% had any kind of user comments or reviews. A mere 15% had a blog.
What they do get right is customer support: all scored high marks here.
dotCommerce Technical Director Simon Bird said: “With competition for every consumer pound at an all time high, it’s more important than ever for retailers to engage with visitors to their sites.
“It is also important to recognise the role that ecommerce sites can play in encouraging shoppers to sign-up for other marketing and promotional efforts, such as email marketing or loyalty schemes.
“This allows the retailer to begin building long-term relationships with consumers and maximising revenue from their existing base.”
What does this mean for you and your website? In short, it’s a huge opportunity. If the very wealthiest companies are failing to provide a great experience to their visitors, make sure you are using all the tools within WebEden to deliver them.
To start with, make sure your users have access to rich information about the product or service you’re trying to sell them. Don’t just place it on the page with a ‘buy now’ button.
In terms of Web 2.0, look at the option of adding social bookmarking features, forums, email to a friend, and of course a blog. Use the new membership features in order to allow people to become members of your website. Integrate your site with both Facebook and Twitter, and use your social networks to reach out to new people. All these things will transform your site from one that is just a shop front, into one with which visitors can have a real, rich relationship.
And make sure you get customer service right too. Make your phone number, email and contact details easily accessible. Make sure you respond to customers in a timely fashion.
And of course if you do get positive feedback and reviews, ask the people leaving those to do so on the sites that might influence other purchasers. You can read our previous post on getting good reviews.
Have you given your web visitors a better experience than our high street competitors? Leave us a comment below.