Creating a 24/7 Sales Machine (continued)
1. Do some research. See what your competitors are doing. Check out your favorite sites on the Internet. What do you like and not like about each? Make a list of these with your likes on one side and don’t-likes on the other. If you’re going to offer e-commerce, visit some sites that sell online. Go through the entire ordering process, right down to the final screens if they allow. Does the order process flow well? Are there steps that could be improved upon? Is it simple or overly cumbersome? Again, make a list of these and use them to formulate your own website plan.
2. Take a critical look at the site you have. If you have an existing website, when was it last designed? Does it look old, especially compared to other sites or your competitor’s site? Is it built using old technologies that don’t automatically scale to work well on tablets and mobile phones? What is the traffic like on the site? Is it still drawing new visitors, or has traffic decreased over time, perhaps because it has not been updated in a while? Are the photos contemporary, or do they look old, too? For instance, during the pandemic, consumers were put off by images of people who weren’t wearing masks. What do the photos say about your business?
3. Create a wishlist. If money and technology were no object, what would you want your site to have, look like and do? Rank these in order, but don’t eliminate any of them because they seem fanciful or too expensive. Thanks to plug-ins and a large developer community, you’d be surprised what is possible these days, even with a small investment.
4. Customer journey. When a current customer ends up on your site, what do you want them to get out of it? Do you want them to buy something, make a purchasing decision and then visit your physical store, make an appointment or request additional information? Do this for prospective customers, too. What would they want from you, given that they may have never heard about you before? Do you want to gain their trust? Create a relationship that may eventually end in a sale or at least a referral? Have them choose you over your competitor or their current supplier/vendor? This journey will help you and your designer create the site’s architecture and navigation.
5. Online sales. Look at your current operations. Can it easily scale to accommodate online sales and fulfillment? If not, what changes would you have to make? Who will maintain the site, where will you do the fulfillment portion? What processes would you need to have in place to scale the order fulfillment process? And who would be the point person for answering customer queries that come in through the site?
6. Project management. Is there someone on your team who can manage this for you from the start, including being the point person for working with the vendor to build the site and then oversee the support/maintenance contract? Can they also contribute content or handle updates? Or is someone else better suited for that role?