Opinion Building an effective website for the retail sector

By Tim McQueen Published on 1 Jan 2008

Building a powerful website for retail

  • Read time: 4 mins
  • Tech level: Low
  • Key point: website design for the retail sector requires components that differ from other industries
Professionals in Sydney office discussing a business case
Make consumers want to shop with you with a high functioning eCommerce website.

An effective website is the most valuable commercial real estate on the planet.

A website acts as your face to countless potential customers that could be located anywhere - from across the road to the other side of the world.

Retailers that want to remain competitive cannot afford to ignore the performance of their website. And with online shopping now a multibillion-dollar industry, the stakes have become even higher.

Content is still king of the internet

Effective web content is the key to a retail website that builds your business.

Great web content creates conversations between your business and its target audiences. If the content is aimed at your ideal customer, then the conversion will be a persuasive one. Content that is engaging and well-written increases traffic and achieves success because it improves the customer experience.

Updating the content on your website on a regular basis will keep your customers engaged and Google rankings on the rise. Make sure you do your research and include keywords in the description that your target audiences use.

And remember - photos count as content. Include quality images of your products that enable them to envision how they can benefit from your offering.

Centre your content around your personas

If you haven't already been through the process of creating audience personas, then you'll need to crystal the essential characteristics of your audience into personas. These personas should be sitting next to the keyboard of anyone that's producing content for your website.

Not sure what personas are?

Learn more about how personas help you tailor your web content around on the people that matter most.

Examples of personas

  • The environmentally conscious buyer'The environmentally conscious buyer' persona, Sarah

    Increase online sales with this customer persona example for the environmentally conscious buyer. Make it easier for people to buy from you.

  • The ethical online shopper'The ethical online shopper' persona, Sally

    Increase online sales with this ethical online shopper persona. Better targeted content leads to better sales.

Navigation must be a seamless experience for users

Professionals working on a business case in Sydney
Increase consumer purchasing by focusing on your sites navigation and ease of use.

A beautiful design coupled with user-friendly navigation is essential for a profitable retail website.

It's important the information architecture of your website is designed in a way that is logical to your ideal customer. A common mistake the shop owners do it structure their information in a way that makes sense to them-which is often out of sync with their ideal customer. If a potential customer can't find a product they are looking for quickly, it can mean they will go to the competition.

How to reduce frustration

Taking the frustration out of the visitor experience is essential. There are several techniques that can assist in creating a website that is easy for visitors to navigate. Card sorting and tree testing will help your visitors find what they are looking for easier and faster.

eCommerce is the key to staying competitive in a shifting retail landscape

The arrival of Amazon in Australia has seen some observers predict it could double the rate that Australians shop online. To stay competitive, most retailers will need to include an eCommerce facility on their website build.

A user-friendly commerce facility will work to increase sales and grow your business as many of our client case studies demonstrate. You have your product, you know your pricing and delivery channels - but now what?

Technical elements that need to be considered in an eCommerce facility:

  1. Modern shopping features
  2. Customer expectations change over time and you need to keep up. Features that make the shopping experience more intuitive are always welcomed by your customer.
  3. Fast web hosting: Your hosting platform needs to be reliable and secure. Then your customers can confidently buy your products and not deal with any technical issues.
  4. Build the eCommerce website around your customer needs: Remember persuasive web content lies at the foundation of a profitable online business. Effective content will always build traffic and increase revenue.
  5. Merchant Account and SSL Certificate: These elements will open your business to the online shopping world. Make sure you do your research. Check product reviews and know that investing more now will save time and money later.
  6. Reach: Promotion, testing and regular updating of content will see your website kicking goals for your business.

Outline a call to action

A retail website must include an online call to action to be effective.

If you want visitors to buy your products, then you need to direct them to take these actions. For a call to action to be effective, you must use clear and concise language that provokes an immediate response.

You need to highlight the benefits of buying from you instead of a competitor. The use of a verb is essential, as is telling your customers what benefits they will experience by taking these actions.

Website security

Professionals working on a business case in Sydney
Encourage consumer loyalty by providing secure transactions.

Website security is one of the most critical elements when it comes to website design for the retail sector. A high standard of security is essential when people are using their credit card, PayPal account or other payment details online.

It's important not to develop a reputation for poor security as it may prove difficult to reverse

It's critical that the security of your website is robust, constantly monitored, and that contingency plans are established ahead of time. This is where an enterprise CMS and an SLA (service level agreement) can make a significant difference.

Website uptime

If a retail website goes down on a regular basis it can have a significant impact on revenue. If your regular and potential customers can't see your offering or buy your products, then they might take their business elsewhere.

It can also work to erode the reliability and reputation of your business. Uptime continuity is the key to inspiring confidence and trust.

Using an enterprise CMS means that plans and processes can be set in place that wrap around website uptime, keeping you online and available to customers.

But if all this sounds too technical or too hard, the team at Polished Pixels can help.

Clear contact information, particularly the physical location of retail outlets

If potential customers can't find where you are then they may take their business elsewhere.

If your business has a physical shopfront provide clear location details that explain where and how your customers can find you.

Even if the website visitor will never actually walk into your shop and only intends to buy online, knowing where the shopfronts are located will provide a certain level of confidence.

Provide clear contact information, including phone numbers, an email address and opening hours. Include tools like a location finder and a Google Map reference along with images of the business, all of which will make it easier for customers to find you.

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Experts in building websites for the retail sector

Contact Polished Pixels for assistance if you are planning a web project and want help.

We are a leading Sydney based website agency providing expert website design.

All of our team members have previously worked in large organisations. We understand the frustrations that come with not being able to improve a company website.

We can help with all aspects of website design for the retail sector. We have worked with several leading companies in the retail sector; including Sheriton Shoes, Handbag Queen and Skintech.

Services include enterprise class CMS implementation, web design, website content strategy, usability and customer centric design.

The result is a strong and secure web presence created with significant savings on company time and budgetary resources.