It’s a rare customer these days who doesn’t walk into your store armed with a sheaf of Web printouts. Not a problem—unless the printouts are from a competitor’s site, leaving you the thankless task of defending your prices and policies against this research.
All the more reason to try to increase the odds that the research came from your site, rather than somewhere else. A sloppy, illogical, sluggish Web presence with a lot of informational holes is just as bad as a retail store with neglected, dusty displays and disinterested sales associates. Both scenarios work against conversion—the common bottom-line in both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce setups. And the same goes for those Web surfers who may never even pass through your front door. How can you seduce them away from the practice of site-hopping, turning them into “stickers” and ultimately into buyers? Whether you show and sell, or just tell your story online, an optimized Web site is a mandatory business tool these days.
Mirroring the In-Store Experience
Abt Electronics, the single-location Chicagoland retailer that also boasts an enviable on-line presence, has managed to replicate its legendary in-store reputation for good will and customer care on its Web site. The company considers itself an Internet pioneer. “We’ve been in e-commerce since 1997, and started adding more and more to the site,” said Jon Abt, vice president. “But over time, we realized that maybe it got to be too much,”