The Ultimate Omnichannel for your Online Business

Lets-get-physical

In these exciting days of technological proliferation, many businesses have taken the multiple retail channel route: they have integrated online sales into their brick-and-mortar operations. Online retail channels include regular online sales through desktop- or laptop-optimised websites, as well as mobile sales and mobile app sales. A prime example of a brick-and-mortar store that has embraced omnichannel retail is IKEA. Not only does IKEA have 351 physical stores in 46 countries (as of December 2014), but they have a website, a mobile site, and a mobile app through which customers can browse, purchase and return items. Undoubtedly, turning omnichannel has broadened their already global reach, making shopping a convenient and pleasant experience for all, regardless of their preferred mode of shopping.

But what about businesses that have a rich online presence but do not have a physical store? Are there any benefits of opening a store? Can it boost profits? These are questions worth considering if you operate an online business, and are flirting with the idea of going brick-and-mortar.

The Benefits of Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Store

Even though industry analysts question the effectiveness of high street retail to boost company profits (due to the tendency towards the online omnichannel approach), there is still plenty of merit in opening up a physical store. According to a Tech Crunch survey, 78% of consumers still prefer to shop in-store, and claim to spend 6 times more in-store than online. This is definitely saying something!

Here are a few more reasons why you should consider opening up a physical store:

Multi-sensory experiences

People like to see and hold what they are considering purchasing. Some people like the smell of books, and prefer to leisurely browse the aisles of a book store and take their time rather than searching online. Maybe they don’t know which book they want, and want to see what jumps out at them – this is way harder to do online. Also, it goes without saying that when shopping for clothes, most people like to try on an outfit to make sure it fits and looks good before spending their money.

Under this umbrella is the growing trend of innovative and interactive technology. Canada’s Unique Solutions Design Ltd. has created the Me-Ality body-scanning stations, which are popping up in retail clothing outlets in Canada and the US. Customers who are constantly frustrated by the lack of consistent sizing across different stores can have their body scanned, and receive a unique barcode containing their measurements and a customised shopping guide. It is just a matter of time before these start appearing in stores and malls around the world. Again, this is something you will not be able to find online… yet.

Social interaction, relationship-building and personalised customer service

Humans are social creatures, and we like to interact with other people and build relationships. Although it is not impossible to build strong and lasting brand relationships with customers if you only have an online retail business (such as Etsy), nothing compares to seeing a smiling face of an employee when you are a customer. Going into a store and being greeted and waited on by an actual human can be a positive experience that can determine whether you will transition from one-time customer to returning customer.

Furthermore, a brand can provide immediate and personalised customer service in-store. Online businesses can provide terrific customer support, but again, nothing beats the immediacy of service in a physical store.

Improved logistics and lower shipping/storage costs

Some merchants are opening physical stores that are also being operated as warehouses and shipping centres for their products. One of the biggest online stores, Amazon, is doing just that. They will be located in New York City, in the same neighbourhood as Macy’s, across from the Empire State Building, and will be using their new physical store as a mini-warehouse with a small inventory for same day shipping within the city. This store will also make returns and pick-ups so much easier for local Amazon shoppers in and around the Big Apple. Other online businesses can expect some or all of the same benefits by opening up brick-and-mortar stores. Rather than returning a product via the post office, customers can go right to the physical location of their favourite webstore, and return or exchange a product easily and without the long waits.

Something to Keep in Mind

Although the thought of opening a physical store for all of the aforementioned benefits sounds exciting, you still have to keep in mind that although you may be able to increase your market share by reaching a broader customer base through the omnichannel approach, your profits can decrease due to promotional expenditures and operational and administrative costs associated with a physical store. However, with more intensive distribution of your products thanks to opening a new channel, you might see the opposite happening. If you are willing to take the risk, you may some glorious returns.

For more ways to optimise your online business and elevate your customers’ experiences with your brand, subscribe to the DalPay blog. For news and updates from around the industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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A/B Testing Your Webstore: Getting Started with the Basics

AB Testing

If there was one thing you could change about your webstore, what would it be? For some people, it might be conversion rates (converting website visitors to paying customers). For others, it might be an optimised general user experience (which could, in turn, increase conversion rates). Whatever the changes you want to make, the best way to test their effectiveness is through A/B Testing.

What is A/B Testing?

Also known as “multivariate testing”, A/B Testing allows you to experiment with two variants, or elements, on your landing page, shopping cart page or payment process to see which version gets the visitor to do what you want them do. There is no limit as to how many variants you can test, but for the sake of A/B Testing, you are only testing for two. Version A is your control; this means that the original element stays the same as it always has. Version B is your treatment, which is the modification whose effectiveness will be compared to the original.

Let’s say you want to test for increased conversion rates. Your landing page might contain a Call-To-Action (CTA), like a Buy Now button, on the lower right side of the page, which has garnered a 9% conversion rate. This version of the page is your Version A control. Another version, the Version B treatment, might feature the same CTA, but positioned in the middle of the screen rather than off to the right. Half of your site’s visitors will experience Version A, while the other half will experience Version B. Once a specified number of visitors has seen one or the other page (it could be 1000 visitors for each version, for example), you can compare which site was the most effective at increasing your conversion rate. If Version B generated a 16% conversion rate, then it is obvious which version of the page you should go with to convert your website’s visitors into paying customers.

Why A/B Testing is Important for Your Business

If you are not achieving the results you’ve been hoping for with your online business, A/B Testing is a great strategy you can use to exponentially boost your conversion rates, and hence, your profits. It can also enhance the user experience for your potential customers which improves your credibility, dependability and customer retention rates. Furthermore, it can help combat the pesky problem of shopping cart abandonment if your payment process is not on point.

How to Start A/B Testing for Your Website

You can start the process of A/B Testing by taking the following points into consideration:

  • Small changes can make a big impact. Simply modifying the look and location of a CTA (like a payment button) can be effective. Moving a CTA from the right to the center, or vice versa, can mean a world of difference in the number of visitors you can turn into customers.
  • Pay attention to merchandising. How you group the articles for sale in your web store could make a difference in profits. If you sell clothing and accessories, try one version in which shoes and sandals are categorized together, and another version in which they are categorized differently. See which one leads to the highest number of completed transactions. It is also good practice to make all essential information about your products and services eye-level. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to locate the goods.
  • Shopping cart and checkout button placement is crucial. You want the site visitor to spend money. The best way to make that happen is to craft a seamless user experience. One way to ensure this is to make the “Add to Cart” icon and “Checkout” buttons obvious. You want the customer to easily fill their cart, and have the option of checking out at any point while shopping. You can place these buttons in the conventional upper right-hand corner, and then create another version in which the buttons are in a different location. Test both locations and see which works out best. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.
  • A little publicity can go a long way. If your company has been featured in the news, in a magazine (online or print), or on a TV show, refer to this in your content. If you have not yet done this, you now have a variant that you can control for: Version A without the reference to the publicity, and Version B with the reference. Test it, and see which version does best.
  • Make use of the available tools. Google Analytics is a practical and invaluable tool for the casual user who wants to collect and analyze data regarding their website’s user experience. Within Google Analytics, Google Analytics Content Experiments can be used specifically for the purposes of A/B Testing.

Now that you have the basics of A/B Testing, go out and start testing! The sooner you start, the sooner you can roll out your optimised website, page element or checkout process, and begin reaping the benefits of providing your visitors with the right tools to convert them into customers. For more tips on starting and running your online business, subscribe to the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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