As the UK entered into a second lockdown, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are facing difficulties in conquering the e-commerce space. Pete Reis-Campbell, CEO and Founder of Kaizen, a performance marketing agency based in London, warns that traditional retailers who haven’t shifted their focus to e-commerce platforms face being left behind if they don’t begin to make drastic changes to their approach…
Why do traditional retailers have to invest more in digital?
As we’ve seen with the nature of the pandemic, we can’t be sure how long it will take for brick-and-mortar businesses to return to “normal” and if we do what will that be like? In the US, Google’s latest report showed searches for “online shopping stores” increased by 100% compared to last year. It is clear that customers are shifting their attention to shopping online, and whilst it has been a steady increase over the past few years or so, the pandemic has definitely increased this demand.
During the first lockdown, we noticed some businesses made the effort to shift their budgets on digital strategies and implemented changes in case we would go back into another lockdown. Whilst other businesses, justifiably, wanted to protect their revenue and didn’t invest in their e-commerce strategy, meaning they’ve now impacted their growth. For instance, familiar brands of the UK high street such as Woolworths, Debenhams, and Littlewoods have all been forced to close down over the years due to their negligence to e-commerce and thinking about innovation.
What do you think the biggest issue is when it comes to retail stores and online stores?
Customers often remember the experiences retail stores give them and this isn’t often translated online. Whilst brands should make an effort to separate their in-store experience from their online stores, they should also remember what consumers are looking for when using these mediums. For example, Apple has a great in-store experience that is focused on allowing customers to test out their products, attend training sessions, and receive hands-on customer support. However, their online experience translates this in a different way – as they know they cannot replicate everything they do in-store and it needs to be tailored differently.
The high street has become more focused on these types of experiences, for example, growth in independent cafes, grooming salons, and restaurants, as going in-store is the only way you can actually experience them. Whilst with e-commerce, there is an opportunity to create an online space to generate sales. In my experience, I’ve found the most difficult e-commerce websites to navigate are ones trying to replicate their entire in-store experience, and haven’t thought about a digital strategy, which can make their UX confusing and frustrating for users.
What are some of the areas retailers should be turning their attention to during this time?
- SEO – Retailers should be looking at the way their customer searches for their products via Google and optimising their website accordingly. From an agency perspective, we often notice that retailers can get caught up in the importance of ‘brand tone of voice’ and this can compromise on SEO as this isn’t the common sense way consumers search for products – meaning they miss out on thousands of opportunities each month just because they aren’t thinking about optimising product descriptions or landing pages.
- Create better online experiences with integration and visibility – Most online retailers have great user experiences, however many are missing out on the trick of integrating payment solutions such as Amazon and Apple Pay. By creating one-click experiences you can increase conversions and expect returning customers.
- Swoop in on SEO opportunities that affiliate content marketing is profiting from – In theory, affiliate content marketing shouldn’t even exist, but thousands of brands miss out on SEO traffic because of this and essentially lose out on sales too. Ecommerce brands should look at the search terms their affiliates rank for and try to fill in those content gaps themselves instead – your own ‘discount codes’ page for example.
- Create evergreen seasonal occasion pages – Retailers have a tendency to create new pages for an event each year, i.e Valentine’s Day 2019, Christmas 2020, or Black Friday 2021. However, these pages should just be a singular URL that’s updated each year in order to retain its SEO value and visibility – otherwise, you’re just resetting your efforts each time. Google recently published an article on best practices for this.
- Review your product description pages – Of course, shopping online will never be the same as shopping in-store, but there are some ways you can include features to help create that experience. A favourite of mine is 360 video, which allows potential customers to view the product in 3D. This might be a tedious and time-consuming project, but if you even did it for your top ten products, you might see a difference in conversion rates. Ensuring customer reviews are displayed is a huge bonus too – no matter how bad or good they are!
- Explore shopper personalisation and influencer marketing – Most traditional retailers are beginning to implement this into their e-commerce strategies, but many are missing out on the trick. Ensuring you’re trying different methods to engage with your audience is crucial, so exploring Instagram and influencer marketing is also a viable option for many larger brands.
Kaizen is a creative-focused performance marketing agency based in London that provides digital PR, social and search marketing services across the UK, EMEA, and the US. Other clients in Kaizen’s portfolio include Adidas, Lastminute.com, and TUI.