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Steve Hogarty
August 7th, 2020

The New High Street: How to Successfully Move Your Brand Online

Every business is now an eCommerce business, and brands need to increase their online presence to remain competitive.

Table Of Contents

The high street is undergoing a rapid transformation, as more consumers choose to do their shopping online instead of in-store. According to the Office for National Statistics, the amount of money spent online increased by 61.9% in June 2020 when compared with February 2020.

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar store moving online for the first time, a digital-only brand facing increased competition, or a brand that sells through a third party, this shift in consumer behaviour means businesses need to adapt — and quickly. This entails meeting customers where they are, with the right messages at the right time.

Here are 13 expert-approved ways to build an effective online presence to meet the challenges of this new consumer landscape.

1. Create infrastructure for distribution and fulfillment

One of the most essential decisions for a brand moving to online retail is how they will build the logistical infrastructure. According to Greenlight Digital, a London-based digital agency, this is a complex issue that many brands overlook.

“A site can be spun up in moments, but warehousing, picking and packing, distribution and the ERP to hold it all together is much more challenging to implement,” says Bea Patman, Client Partner at Greenlight Digital.

So how can a brand without online retail capabilities pivot quickly to eCommerce? Patman suggests looking to the bars, restaurants, and grocery stores that switched to localised distribution when lockdown started.

“Treat your biggest store as a distribution hub to make inventory management simple, and distribute within a manageable radius,” Patman says. “There have been some great success stories from this approach in recent months, and it has the advantage of allowing businesses to test their customers’ appetites for online buying at an affordable scale before investing in a full eCommerce infrastructure in the long term.”

2. Make your style consistent

Your physical store reflects your brand’s ethos and style, so make sure that your site is a continuation of those design choices. Start by integrating your in-store and online customer experiences with consistent information, sales promotions and product lines, but don’t stop there.

Look and feel should be consistent across every channel, whether it’s physical or digital. Keep a distinct visual identity in your choice of typeface and colours, use photography from around your store and communicate with customers in a friendly and recognisable voice.

3. Give shoppers the information they need

When bringing your products online, make sure to keep the customer’s needs in mind. “For any retailer who is looking to shift to a higher share of sales from eCommerce, I recommend they ensure that all products across the business are available to buy online and have high quality, unique and detailed information,” says Brad Houldsworth, Strategy Manager at Remarkable.net. “That includes images, videos, descriptions and associated content.”

4. Highlight your strongest reviews

Your happiest customers are your brand’s loudest advocates, and their reviews are highly valued by other online shoppers. Motivate customers to rate their experiences by making the review process as straightforward as you can. Use multiple-choice questions and star ratings to structure their responses in a way that’s clear and helpful to other shoppers. Brands looking to make the transition to online should seek out a reviews solution like Yotpo that allows them to launch quickly and scale to their needs as their online presence matures.

5. Optimise your Google Shopping campaigns

Customers who shop using Google have an especially strong intention of making a purchase. They’ve finished browsing, they know precisely what it is they’re looking for and now they’re comparing all of their options.

Position yourself prominently in these search results by collecting and displaying customer reviews and content through a Trusted Google Partner, like Yotpo, on your site. Google scrapes this information and uses it to populate your listing with star ratings and pictures taken by other shoppers. Collect and display this user-generated content on your site and your brand will jump off the page.

6. Encourage your shoppers’ creativity

Whether it’s furniture or fashion, online shoppers are inspired by how your products look in the wild. Encourage customers to share images of their most recent purchases and display these pictures across product pages and other marketing channels.

Don’t underestimate the photography skills of your customers, either. Give them some basic lighting and framing guidelines and they’ll produce images that combine the on-brand professionalism of a photoshoot with the unbeatable authenticity of user-generated content.

7. Elevate your overlooked products

In stores, products compete with one another for attention. Online, every product can be positioned front and centre. By identifying the unique preferences of online shoppers you can tailor recommendations to their exact tastes, dynamically highlighting products that would otherwise have been overlooked.

The key to this is having an effective customer management strategy. This will allow you to build personalised profiles based on individual shopping behaviours to reach customers with useful recommendations at just the right point in their journey.

8. Send personalised SMS messages

Your customers are everywhere, but more than ever, their attention is focused on that device in the palm of their hand. Reach your customers where they are with an effective SMS marketing strategy that’s highly personalised, and finds them at the most critical moments in their purchasing journey.

Do this by creating an SMS opt-in during the checkout process, then use this channel to send personalised recommendations, start conversations, and re-engage mobile shoppers at the right times.

9. Reduce abandoned carts

When a customer changes their mind in a physical store, you rarely get a second chance to convince them. Online, you can more easily turn things around. When considering your customer journey, include an abandoned cart strategy as a potential touchpoint.

In some cases, a shopper might leave their cart for reasons that you can remedy, like making shipping fees transparent or offering easier payment options. Sometimes though, shoppers just change their mind, and a well-timed message can do wonders to win them back.

For example, if a customer has opted in to receive SMS messages from your brand, you can automatically trigger a personalised message to be sent 15 minutes after the cart is abandoned, offering a 15% coupon if they return to complete the purchase. A targeted and well-timed message at this stage can convert a potential lost sale into a loyal returning customer.

10. Take advantage of click and collect

Gone are the days when online shoppers would be held captive all afternoon waiting for a delivery. A click and collect option during checkout is a simple way to begin integrating your offline and online strategies, giving customers the option to buy online and pick up at a physical location, either in-store or near their home.

Use SMS to let customers know when their order is ready to collect, as well as to remind them of any codes or identification they might need to pick up their purchase.

11. Deliver next-level customer service

The best customer service is proactive rather than reactive. Proactive support means identifying and resolving customer issues before they become problems. It can be implemented in multiple stages of the purchase journey, such as a live chat window popping up on-site while a shopper browses or a post-purchase survey to a customer who has just bought an item.

When customers have questions or run into problems, a next-level customer service strategy can automate responses to your most frequently asked questions, helping your customers quickly get to the information they need or directing their problem to the right person. Delivering excellent customer support encourages repeat visits and, in turn, cultivates a long-term customer relationship.

12. Explore other channels for your brand

While it’s natural to focus primarily on your own digital storefront, there is additional potential for your brand to expand.

“Our big tip is to take a digital-first approach and look beyond just physical outlets and eCommerce stores,” says Dan Fountain, Managing Director for UKI at Tryzens. “Try extending into social and search channels, apps and marketplaces to serve customers where they engage most and have the propensity to buy.”

13. Build lasting customer relationships

Every point of contact between you and your customers — whether they’ve just discovered your product for the first time or they’re a regular subscriber to your business — is part of a growing personal relationship.

Like in any good relationship, communication is key. Boost customer loyalty and build lasting connections by thanking a customer after they leave a review, sharing your shoppers’ UGC on your social channels and reaching out to buyers with timely, personalised and useful messages that keep the conversation going.

As COVID-19 has made abundantly clear, every business is now an eCommerce business, and brands need to increase their online presence to remain competitive. It’s more important than ever to have an omnichannel eCommerce marketing strategy in place, so that you can meet consumers where they are with well-timed, personalised messages.

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