Garbage in. Garbage out.
You can’t open a trade magazine, email or attend an industry conference without a multitude of messages coming your way about the importance of your web presence. The problem: no one understands the magnitude of work that’s needed to conduct business on the web.
It’s no laughing matter.
Pure and simple: your website is the online version of your brick and mortar store. It is a physical location, which resides online. And, it’s serious business. It is far more important than your brick and mortar location. Why? Everyone who has an interest in buying a piece of fine jewelry in your immediate selling area has the ability to easily walk in that door 24/7. Everything you do for your brick and mortar store needs to happen online. And, to that end, it requires the following:
Staffing. You wouldn’t open your physical store without salespeople. To sell online, you need the dedication of a person or persons from your store, focused on that site each and every day. Think about what you and your staff do each day. Do you think no one should be checking each page, each link, updating content and generally making sure it’s exactly the way you want it to be when someone virtually walks into your online store? You have several people in your store dealing with customers. You have no one tending to your website even a few hours a day? It’s laughable. Someone is needed to keep content (like product) up to date. Old products need to be removed; new sku’s need to be added. If there is a pricing change, it needs to be changed online. Someone HAS to monitor the store. If you are serious about selling online, you have to look at it as a real store! And, someone needs to mind that store. If there’s an inquiry, you need to address it now – not five days after it came in. That’s like someone standing across the counter asking a question while you walk away.
Proper and current pricing and descriptions. Would you display a product in your case without a tag properly describing the piece? Would it not have the correct price? The same is true for your online merchandising. Someone has to monitor correct descriptions and pricing. Are you depending on manufacturer descriptions? Many are written for the industry. Many are not written with persuasive and great copy for consumers. If you’re selling online, your customer needs to know if it’s available in platinum, 14K or 18K white, yellow, or rose gold. They have to know the differences in the price. If a piece sells, and is no longer available in your store, the piece needs to be removed from your site. If you receive new product in your store, it’s typically priced and displayed in your case. Well, someone has to be responsible for that information online! Is someone in your store paying attention to this? The garbage you put in is the garbage coming out.
Gorgeous display. Are your showcases cloudy and scratched? Are your cases filled with worn display necks? Are the inside of your cases different colors? Then why would you allow your photography to be blurry and inconsistent on your site? You need access to quality photography for every vendor and every sku you carry. And, if your vendors aren’t providing quality photos and information, then it’s your responsibility to get it shot. The industry is woefully behind the curve in this area. Vendors are still supplying digital catalogs your customers have to link to (with limited sku’s); others offer a limited amount of photos; many have no photos (or bad photos). Some have their products accessible with certain web developers and not with others. Many upload their products and don’t continually update their stream to developers. It’s a HUGE problem. Until retailers demand the change, it’s never going to get where it needs to be. In any case, it is ultimately your responsibility if you want a great site and/or to sell online. A $500 light-box isn’t going to do the trick.
Fresh looks. Your site should be freshened up just like you freshen up your showcases. You don’t keep holiday decorations up all year or Valentine’s Day past February 14. Well, your site needs to have fresh content as well. It could be seasonal messages and graphics. Promotions need to be current. News items (if applicable) should not be years old.
It takes effort, time and money. Most are not willing to step up to the magnitude of the job. You’re not building a great new store on the cheap. You’re not building a website on the cheap either. Everyone wants a Tiffany website for $7500. Now, that’s funny. If you’re serious about what it takes to have a real online presence, and you are actually starting to think about having the ability to sell online (and you should be),the investment and the effort will mimic what it would take to open another physical location. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just feeding you a line of BS. The problem is most of you don’t have the real funds or have the inclination to invest in the time it’s going to take to open this important next location. Your website developer can’t run the store for you. Your agency can’t run the store for you. The onus is on you.
And, it’s no laughing matter.