After taking time to research products for some developments at my home which I was planning to have done, I noticed a pattern emerging through the various merchant websites that I was using.
The pattern was that I was getting frustrated at the difficulty I was faced with when searching to find products and offers easily on many websites.
Nothing was easily viewable on the tablet or the smartphone, navigation was difficult throughout in most cases.
I therefore thought that in 2016, the age of Super fibre optic Wifi and 4G almost everywhere, it should be possible to view most things quick and easy on a business’s website.
This is the global face of any business to the consumer, tradesman and the services and brands which they wish to sell.
To understand this better, I explored what customers required from websites in the Omni-channel environment we are in.
I have split these into 4 categories below.
- A mobile friendly website that actually is, not just scaled smaller.
- Offers and Promotional pages, with actual content behind them.
- Information about showrooms and displays.
- Ability to order on-line, or ‘click & collect’
Retailer or Merchant these are imperative for websites in 2016
To be able to therefore apply a measure to the 4 categories I decided to view 50 plumbing & Builders merchants websites in the UK to establish what each of their websites was really offering.
Ultimately identifying opportunities for many them to secure more customer focus, engagement and footfall through their estate. It also highlights who is currently focussed on the ease of transaction and use of both on-line and offline trading joining together harmoniously.
For each of the category areas I gave a point, therefore if the website incorporated all of the above 4 categories (Promotions, Showroom, Mobile Web, On-line trading) it achieved 4 points
My findings are detailed in *chart 1below, but the takeaways from the 50 Merchants is interesting, clearly highlighting many untapped opportunities for Sales & IT teams to embrace.
Overview of *Chart 1
4/50 merchants offer all 4 categories (8%)
9/50 merchants offer 3 of the 4 categories(18%)
(Only 6 of these offer promotions, 8 have showrooms, 6 convert to mobile web, 4 sell on-line)
18/50 merchants offer only 2 of the categories (36%)
(Only 10 of these offer promotions, 13 have showrooms, 8 convert to mobile web, 2 sell on-line)
11/50 merchants offer only 1 of the categories (22%)
(Only 2 of these offer promotions, 4 have showrooms, 5 convert to mobile web, zero sell on-line)
8/50 merchants offer none of the web categories (16%)
The key opportunities that stand out from the 50 merchants surveyed was:-
- Only 20% sell on-line or offer click and collect
- However, 46% do not convert their pages to mobile devices yet.
The mobility of a website is synonymous with the use of the customers it attracts.
The ability for all consumers and trades people to be able to view and order on-line when out and mobile themselves is very important. In addition to this the engagement of offers and ease of navigation throughout a website is greatly interactive and will bring repeat visits if the process is pain free.
If your website is clear, easy to use and visibly makes a consumer want to engage again and again, they will do just that
- Clear pages to view on Android, Apple and Windows Mobile
- Easy to navigate Menu
- Promotional offers visible and available
- Calls to action and details as to why visit the branches
- Incentive for the customer to click and collect
- Customers seldom scroll down a page or pinch and zoom it
So if only 23 customers out of 50 offer mobile sites & menus and only 10 sell or offer click and collect on-line, then the two major opportunities that I see are:-
- Those embracing and engaging are securing growth and promoting themselves and their business for a ‘future proofed’ revenue structure, combining both bricks and mortar with on-line interaction
- Those reliant on their existing footfall are missing opportunities to win over the millennial and young trades people. They are the ones who are already highly interactive and intuitive in the world of on-line engagement and ordering
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