October 2019 Newsletter

Make Your Pet Products Fly Off the (Virtual) Shelves

It’s difficult to remember the days when entering your credit card number into a webform seemed new and a bit scary. Now we buy things in a single click, through apps and ads on social media. We can use a variety of payment options, from PayPal and Apple Pay to the credit card we have on file with a specific retailer. Ecommerce is the new(ish) normal, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing — online sales are projected to reach $4.5 trillion in 2021, more than three times the amount spent online in 2014. In the pet retail space, behemoths like Amazon and Chewy are seizing market share from brick-and-mortar pet retailers, making the quality of your ecommerce offerings more important than ever before.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re building or refining your online shop and you’ll be well on your way to helping pet owners marry their love of shopping small with the irresistible convenience of buying online, while also tapping into a revenue stream that just keeps growing.

  1. Set your strategy. Develop a strategy independent of your physical store strategy. Think of it as a roadmap, where you define your goals in detail, outline the tactics that you plan to use in order to achieve them and note which metrics you need to monitor in order to determine whether your tactics are successful. Strategy documents are living documents and help you see what’s working, what’s not and how to use your resources most effectively.
  2. Make your store is searchable for two kinds of customers. Sometimes customers know what they want and they want to find it quickly. Other times, customers want to browse. To accommodate both types of site visitors, use easy to understand verbiage for your navigation menu and organize it into intuitive sections and make sure that your search function is well designed (this includes things like making the search bar apparent, improving your results layout and ensuring that the full scope of products appears for a specific search term or category). If shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for — or, in the case of the browsers, something that catches their eye — quickly, they’ll end up buying from someplace else.
    • Pro Tip: WPA retailer members can get a consultation with I-Matrix to assess their current site to find how they can improve their site. WPA members can also benefit from the Pointy Partnership to make sure their stores rank high in search results.
  3. Use high-quality videos and photos with detailed product descriptions. Since online shoppers can’t touch your products or see them up close, they must rely on your images, videos and information provided.
    • In this world where video is king, including a short video can help sell your customers on a new purchase. Let them see the product features and how it works so they can easily picture themselves using the product.
    • If you’re taking your own product photos, use a simple background, good lighting and some basic editing techniques like cropping and sharpening.
    • Make sure to name your photos and videos with keywords, like “long-lasting rubber chew toy for small dogs” instead of “photo 1 dog toy.”
    • Don’t forget the descriptions that accompany your images! Tout the benefits and features of your products with bullet points, so that they’re easily scannable.
  4. Make it personal. If your platform allows, customize the homepage for each user. This involves things like displaying their order and view history in order to suggest related items on their next visit. Personalization is a powerful tactic — 59 percent of online shoppers believe that it’s easier to find more interesting products on personalized online retail stores and 57 percent are comfortable providing personal information to a brand as long as it directly benefits their shopping experience (which can help with other tactics, like building out your email lists).
  5. Use consumer-generated content. Including videos, photos, testimonials, reviews and other content created by consumers on your website can have a big impact. Brands see a 78 percent increase in conversion rates when customers interact with consumer-generated content and shoppers that interact with this type of content are 97 percent more likely to convert than those who do not.
  6. Don’t forget mobile and social. By the end of 2021, 73 percent of ecommerce sales will happen on a mobile device. View your site on a variety of mobile devices and ensure that it renders properly, is easy to navigate and doesn’t take more than five seconds to load (two is ideal). Also, incorporate your store into your social media pages, with “buy” or “purchase” buttons that direct the customer to the appropriate page on your website.
  7. Consider chatbots/AI assistants. With 34 percent of surveyed shoppers saying that they’re comfortable having their questions answered by virtual assistants while shopping, it’s no wonder that these types of solutions have become incredibly popular in recent years. Virtual assistants help customers find the answers they need with no waiting required.

By keeping up on the latest ecommerce trends and putting these tips and tactics to work, you can create a seamless shopping experience for your online customers that keeps them coming back for more.

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