Offline Data and Online Sales: Why One Needs the Other
Posted by Megan Webb-Morgan on April 29, 2013 in Business Start Up Advice, Retail [ 0 Comments ]
Your retail store’s purchasing data should be much more than an end of day report filed away never to be seen again. This data from your point-of-sale system can inform a wide variety of your business processes, including the transition to an ecommerce website.
For example, the customer, sales, and inventory data you collect will help you determine your site’s design, SEO, and marketing tactics, among other things. By taking this data into account, you can ensure that your new ecommerce site will generate traffic and sales as soon as it goes live.
Step One: Design
You have a wealth of customer data accumulated in your POS system. This data can run the gamut from purchase history, income, demographics, household size, payment methods, and more. Taken collectively, it identifies one or several average customer profiles for your business.
Those profiles already inform how you cater to your in-store customers; now, you need to transfer them to your ecommerce site.
- Your website’s design – its layout, colors, font, graphics, navigation, and tone –hinges upon the preferences of your target customer. Web design is not one-size-fits-all; a website designed for young urban professionals will vary greatly from one designed for enterprise-level business associates.
- Make sure that your customer information plays a significant role in how you design your new ecommerce site. No matter how well you advertise your site, you won’t optimize your conversion rate if the design doesn’t fit the audience.
Step Two: SEO
Optimizing your ecommerce site for search engines is the next step in preparing for your launch into online shopping. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) encompasses site design, keyword usage, linking, and page content. The better you handle this process from the start, the more likely your site will rank highly in search engines and, in turn, bring in more traffic and sales.
- Just as your customer data informs your site design, so too does it inform your SEO: from the way that you write your product descriptions, website copy, and blog content, to the specific long-tail keywords you use in your website tags and code.
Purchasing data also plays into how you design your SEO strategy. Your sales and inventory data includes: sales volume, sales frequency, revenue, highest and lowest selling product, periods of high and low sales volume (by hour, day, week, etc), and more.
- What are your most popular products? What are your most profitable products? How well you apply your sales and inventory information towards SEO will determine, in part, how well you rank in Google and Bing.
Step Three: Marketing
You can’t just upload a new retail website to the internet and expect it to produce sales. You need to market your online store just as much as you market your brick-and-mortar store. Use your purchasing and customer data to derive a strategy for marketing your new ecommerce site. This should include a plan for email campaigns, mobile marketing, and pay-per-click campaigns.
- While there are significant differences between online and in-store sales, when you first start out in ecommerce, your sales forecasts can help you plan your website’s marketing. Your customer data can help you effectively target online customers. And your inventory data can help you keep the right items in stock on time.
Starting a large ecommerce site without planning ahead is a recipe for disaster. If you already have a storefront for your business, you have a distinct advantage over other new ecommerce sites. You have access to the kinds of data that can help you make the best decisions about web design, SEO, and marketing. Use that data to inform your decisions, and watch your conversion rate skyrocket.