The World Wide Web celebrated its 25th birthday just a few short weeks ago. Throughout the past quarter-century, we’ve lived through drastic changes among the ways we conduct business, communicate with friends and family, and last but not least - purchase and sell products. And as small business owners selling those products, you cannot ignore the rapidly changing technologies.
As online, integrated platforms become more available and mobile technology stands at the forefront of interaction with individuals and businesses, retailers must adapt to the demands of their customers. You have no choice, really. If you aren’t adapting, your customers will most certainly let you know. And that most likely will be in the form of a negative Tweet, grumpy Facebook comment, or perhaps worse - a positive review about your competitor.
Customers are expecting more accessibility to the companies from whom they purchase. They want you to pamper them in person. They want you to respond via Twitter. They want you to post creative visuals on Pinterest and like their pins. And they most certainly want every single interaction with you to be equal parts remarkable and consistent, regardless of the communication channel. Online, offline - it doesn’t matter. You must always be on.
Because gone are the days of brick-and-mortar stores where you could focus all your efforts on face-to-face interaction. Now you have less control over a first impression, and yet you have to make that impression count.
Ebay recently commissioned a major study exploring the relationship between online and offline retailing. Tanya Lawler, EBay’s VP UK, shared the following:
The study showed that 31% of shoppers visit the store prior to making a purchase online, a behaviour sometimes referred to as "showrooming". However, a similar number of people (34%) will research online and then complete the purchase in store, so-called "reverse showrooming". Whether the research takes place online or in-store, shoppers are doing their homework in multiple places.
People like to be informed. Now, it’s practically a ritual for a shopper to do a quick check online marketplaces for price comparison, read reviews, check the status of your Twitter BEFORE purchasing. They want to know what they can expect when they visit your website or go into your store to purchase something. Make sure you really understand your target customer, what news outlets they read, what social profiles they’re following, etc. The more effectively you can tap into their expectations, the more enhanced their experience will be and the more loyal they will be to your brand.