January 09, 2020 I The Retail Beat I by Brad Boynton
Rethinking Your Website
Back in November, we tossed aside our old website in favor of one that was more us. We’d come full circle from trying a decade ago to look big and project a slick image to needing to be more authentic. Gone are the slick manufacturers’ product descriptions and the fake chat icon featuring a perfectly attractive sales associate in favor of a site with personality designed to serve all of our customers’ needs.
Today, users head to websites for different reasons than they did in the past. Your website needs to be as dynamic as your customer’s needs.
Today, users head to websites for different reasons than they did in the past. Your website needs to be as dynamic as your customers’ needs. Take a quick peek at your site and ask yourself if it projects who you are and all you do. Most importantly, does it work the way that you intend it to, whether that’s e-commerce, driving people to your storefront, or promoting your lessons, repairs and other services? If it doesn’t, it’s time for a change.
We wanted our new website to do three things:
- Reflect who we are – our dedication to the craft, our local reputation and personality.
- Be intuitive enough that anyone on staff could work on the back end.
- Grow both brick-and-mortar and online sales.
Luckily for us, and you, building or updating a website is easier than ever. Shopify, Wix, Squarespace and other third-party affiliates have hundreds of free or low-cost website templates that are clean and easy to use, but you’ll have to supercharge them to do everything the MI requires. We went with a theme that is used mostly by fashion and jewelry stores, though by looking at the final product you’d never know. By adding various plugins and integrations and customizing your site in small ways, you will show a more complete picture of who you are. Customers are looking for that.
For example, we’ve integrated My Music Staff studio management software into our website to manage the lesson program, allowing us to track student leads, schedule automatic invoicing and view practice logs all without a phone call to the shop. Our Used & Vintage tab takes the customer to our live Reverb page, which has up-to-the-minute listings. We have our blog and photo galleries hosted on a WordPress site, also embedded to be transparent. To keep our customers on the site for longer, we embed our rotating product demonstration videos directly onto the site rather than linking them to the video and losing them to the internet vortex.
I can’t tell you how many businesses’ websites have no information on who works there, where the business is located or why I should give them my money. An About Us tab adds personality. Add staff bios or feature an employee: your top repair guy, the owner or the warehouse associate who’s going to ensure the customer’s order arrives safely. Include contact information so customers can easily figure out where you are and how to reach you. Consider embedding a short YouTube video narrated by the owner that tells your story.
While you’re at it, go ahead and project a smaller footprint. Sounds funny after spending years trying to show off how your business can drop-ship 10,000 products, but supporting local business is important to today’s shopper. If you’re a multi-location store, you may want to show your fun side using Instagram Stories, colorful, eye-catching photos or a clever unboxing video.
Whether online or in-person, you don’t want customers to visit only when they need gear. You want them to visit often. With more reasons to visit, you can refine your message and showcase all the things you do beyond the shopping cart. This engagement with your brand changes the conversation from price to passion, and with it, you’ll be your customers’ go-to resource – and 100 percent you. MI
Brad Boynton is the owner of Rhythm Traders Drum Shop in Portland, Oregon.