I met with an old friend, soon to be client, the other day at his shop. The guy’s been running retail shops longer than I’ve known the meaning of retail. Anyhow, he really knows his stuff; he was telling me that he moved one of the cash desks the other day because there wasn’t enough space for customers to get through, plus if he moved it to the lower left corner he could get another 2 sets of shelves in etc, etc…
While telling me all of this he notices a small mark on a carpet tile, I’m not kidding, 10 feet away! "We need to get that cleaned or replaced" he barks while pointing at this dot! Anyhow, I guess his attention to detail and knowledge of his domain was really impressive to me, he has retail in his DNA.
The flip side to this is his website, not quite the same authority at all. Misshapen images, products with no descriptions or very poorly written ones. Categories duplicated and in some areas over 5 levels of navigation. And don’t get me started on the checkout process! I mean, does he want to sell anything? "Am I adding to basket or to the cart? Are they the same? I don’t know, let’s see! Ah, what’s this, I need to login first, ok, I’ll create an account then. Why exactly do you need my credit card to allow me to add something to my basket? I mean cart! Oh, whatever!"
But that’s not the worse part at all! Search good ol' Google for his business name, and his website comes below the fold at position 6 or 7. We can only guess his products are visible to the "page 10 brave".
The shame of it is that we see this kind of situation so often. Experienced business people that understand their realm of commerce so well, but when it comes to launching their Internet empire, they are convinced they can do it alone, with no prior experience or guidance. However, that in itself is not the issue. I’m all for self development and taking responsibility for your business’s progression. However, this is not the case. None of these sites are updated or have had any attempt made to make them better. The same problems exist online and offline, if someone has a bad experience in a shop, they are likely not to return and, online, the same applies.
Those old-school retailers with retail DNA coursing through their very being, need to find a way to have the Internet DNA spliced with theirs. And until they can, they need to find someone, or some- team, that can truly drive their online ambitions home.