When I was a little girl growing up in the US, one of the special activities my grandmother and I would do together is shopping at the largest department store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – Watt & Shand.
One of the most exciting parts of those regular shopping excursions was the anticipation of seeing the huge shop windows – some as large as eight to ten metres long – and the fashion stories told through the creative mannequin displays.
Christmas was an especially exciting time of the year and driving by the big downtown department store windows was, if you can believe it, on the top of the list of holiday activities.
Fast forward to 2019 and most businesses no longer have a shop window. Even for those retail shops that do, little effort is put into telling a story within them. When’s the last time you stopped to look at a creative window display?
What hasn’t changed from now to then, however, is that people will visually seek out information, messages, imagery and stories before they purchase your product or service.
What has changed is that nowadays your ‘shop window’ is your online presence, specifically your website.
So, what does your shop window say? Just like the purpose of the old department store display, is it visually beautiful, easy to interpret at a glance, positive, rich with clever content and constantly changing?
And most importantly, does your online presence invite people inside to get them one step closer to purchase?
For some businesses, their online shop window is dusty, covered in cobwebs with a few dead bugs in the corner, their mannequins have broken limbs and are wearing fashions from 2005.
If you think it might be time to freshen up your online shop window, here are a few things to consider before you get started:
Build it on the right platform
You would never locate your exclusive dress shop inside an industrial building in Te Rapa.
It’s critical to get your platform right. There are an incredible number of website companies and platforms available. If you need a very complex website for a major organisation, that’s going to require a very different technology system behind it than an online brochure for a start-up SME.
Get the guts right
The experience inside your store must live up to the hype promised in the window.
A beautiful home page can draw your visitor to look at additional pages on your website, but if you don’t have compelling written and visual content, you’ll lose your shopper quickly. Find a writer who understands how to write for the web, because it’s a special skill. And ensure every element on the page works together to create a logical flow that’s easy on the eye.
Invest in imagery
No one’s going to inquire about buying your latest fashions if your mannequins are dressed in rags.
The photos, videos and graphics on your website need to be suited to an online environment and they need to be of the highest quality. Work with professionals to get it right and put in place a regular routine to keep it fresh.
Don’t forget the signposts
A shop won’t survive if it depends solely on passers-by and impulse shopping.
Once you’ve got your website ready, don’t forget to lead people there with some basic Google, online and social ads. It doesn’t always take a huge budget to ensure your company is popping up when people are searching for the goods or services you provide. So, ensure your web investment includes an ongoing budget for essential online wayfinding.