In 2020, more than 2 billion people made online purchases. Meanwhile, e-retail sales amounted to over 4.2 trillion USD. That comes to show the massive spike that online shopping had during the height of the pandemic.
Yet, e-commerce was playing a pivotal role in the economy way before COVID-19. Steadily, digital storefronts and other online vehicles were replacing physical storefronts as the first points of contact between buyers and vendors. Since the pandemic began, this trend has only escalated.
Because of this phenomenon, optimizing digital storefronts must be a strategic goal of any brand or business.
What Is a Digital Storefront?
The easy answer is that a digital storefront is your website. This is the place where you sell your goods or services online.
But in many ways, it extends beyond the website itself, encompassing your entire digital presence as a business, including your social media accounts, reviews on third-party sites, search results, and more. All of these components affect your image as a brand. Much like with a physical storefront, each element contributes to the larger picture.
Why Is It So Important?
E-commerce sales are expected to account for nearly a quarter of all retail sales by 2025.
When you consider how quickly this segment is growing, it’s not too difficult to understand why a strong digital storefront and presence are pivotal in today’s economy. Even when customers enter your physical store, your online presence is often the first point of contact they have with you. Perhaps they found you via a Google or Yelp search, for example.
In order to attract consumers to your business and keep them coming back, you must optimize your digital storefront to deliver an exceptional experience. This is what gets them in the “door” — virtually or physically — and builds brand loyalty.
Your digital storefront also becomes part of — in fact, a defining feature of — your customer’s journey with your business. You want them to return and build a relationship with the company, and in order to entice them, you will need to offer incentives.
How to Improve Your Digital Storefront
1. Ensure the Accuracy of All Your Business Information
There are many ways consumers could learn about you online, from Google to referrals. The details of your business, including location, hours, and, of course, URL, should all be accurate and up to date. Take the time to search for your business so you can catch and modify any details that are inaccurate, as well as add any information that’s missing, especially in highly visible places.
2. Optimize Across Devices
Considering how many consumers browse your website on mobile devices, it’s important to ensure that you’ve optimized it, such that it looks uniform and presents well across all devices. If you ignore this step, navigation, UX, and other features could be skewed.
3. Check Out the Competition
What are your competitors up to? In order to deliver the best experience possible, it’s important to understand the market. Try searching for your services to find out what’s working — and what’s not — for similar businesses.
SEO is a trickier process than many people understand. In order to optimize for SEO, you must stay up to date with best practices — and, usually, employ a professional who understands the intricacies of search engine optimization.
6. Consider User Experience Design
The UX goes beyond images and videos, although they’re part of it. Think about all types of interactions, as tiny as pressing a button or “speaking” with a chatbot. UX design has a huge effect on your consumers’ impression of your digital storefront and presence.
7. Keep It Local
Adding local content and making sure you’re part of local listings is a great way to build relationships with people nearby. Even if you sell your goods online, you can create connections and loyalty by finding commonalities — such as solidifying your presence as a local brand.
You should also make sure your location data is accurate and up to date so your consumers can easily find you, should they choose to visit your physical storefront.
8. Remember: Your Digital Presence Doesn’t End with Your Website
Make sure that all aspects of your digital presence are accurate, up to date, and otherwise appealing on as many online vehicles as possible. That’s not limited to your website — it also includes social media accounts, Google search results, and so on.
9. Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes
It’s difficult to do this exercise, but it’s also important to envision yourself as a customer and examine your digital presence from this perspective. Doing so will allow you to better identify flaws or errors that could interfere with the consumer’s experience. You might, for instance, search for the specific service you deliver to see where your business ranks in search results.
Digital storefronts are steadily replacing physical storefronts as a primary means of delivering goods, services, and experiences to customers. It’s time for every business to take notice — and get into the e-commerce game.