Report: Top 10 strategies for driving online growth
New York City Tobe, a division of international retail and fashion consulting service The Doneger Group, has unveiled 10 key strategic initiatives that will immediately drive online sales for retailers.
Here are Tobe’s Top 10 tips for retailers:
1. Treat the home page like a storefront window. Recognize it is the face of the brand and use it as a selling point, showing all features and enticing consumers to explore deeper into the site.
2. Retailers must have a blogging strategy. Ignoring the blogging community gives anyone the opportunity to become the voice of the brand. Whether penning their own blog or sending product to influential bloggers, retailers need a blogging strategy to ensure their point of view is conveyed.
3. Invest in new technologies to drive sales and marketing initiatives. From streaming video to smart phone apps, a number of new technologies can directly translate to sales. Educate consumers through streaming fashion shows and expert commentary, while marketing new promotions through mobile coupons.
4. Test potential brand extension through Internet exclusive product launches. The Internet is a cost-efficient way to test new product lines and gain immediate customer feedback before making the investment in brick-and-mortar stores.
5. Utilize the Internet to take customer service to the next level. Leverage live-chat dialogues, online fit guides and personalized product recommendations to better serve customers and reduce cart abandonment.
6. Build customer loyalty with a unique online selling proposition. A unique offering such as donating a percentage of sales to charity, matching competitor coupons, or providing year-round free shipping drives traffic to your site and makes your brand memorable.
7. Stay connected to your consumer by offering online gift registries and wish lists. Use registries and wish lists to gain lifestyle information about your consumers and the people who care about them. Anniversary reminders sent each year make repeat gift purchases convenient and build loyalty.
8. Reach your customers where they live online. Different consumer groups use the Internet in different ways. Push beyond Facebook and Twitter to sites such as PopSugar, Tumblr and Delicious that are gaining traction with niche consumer audiences.
9. Don’t take your eye off the fundamentals of search engines. While social networking sites are important for maintaining a connection to the consumer, purchases are more likely to occur through a search engine. Retailers need to continue investing in SEO and keyword searches.
10. Don’t underestimate the power of customer reviews. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase from retail sites that include product reviews. In-fact, sites that include occasional negative reviews are seen as being more credible than those listing only positive feedback.
AAFES continues to invest in facilities
During a time when many retailers are tightening the reins on capital expenditures, AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Services), which finances projects through the sale of merchandise and services, is actually accelerating facility renovations to improve service. Funding comes strictly from self-generated, non-appropriated resources and is not a burden to the American taxpayer.
“With a slumping economy, shoppers have been asking more questions about capital improvements,” said Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s senior VP real estate Mike Gividen. “We want our customers to know we are investing in our facilities more than ever before.”
According to Gividen, there is a direct correlation between patronage at the exchange and resulting capital improvement projects.
“AAFES shoppers are essentially AAFES’ shareholders and our goal is to be our customer’s first choice,” he said. “As such, we have a responsibility to properly re-invest in our facilities to provide a pleasant, first-class shopping experience.”
The replacement of aging facilities begins with a thorough evaluation of factors such as age, potential demand and military transformation requirements. Once complete, AAFES’ real estate team is able to identify potential priority locations that are reviewed for replacement.
By the end of 2010, AAFES will have opened five new shopping centers, including the world’s largest exchange, a sprawling 490,000-sq.-ft., multi-use retail development, Freedom Crossing at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas. It is the first-ever open-air shopping center to be located on Military Post. This is in addition to six new shopping centers opened in 2009.
Even as it invests in new construction, AAFES is also investing in image updates, or facelifts, of existing exchanges.
“As we executed renovation projects last year, we were experiencing 25%-30% savings because contractors needed work,” said Gus Elliott, VP facilities division in charge of renovations. “As a result, we decided to accelerate future renovations not only to realize capital program savings, but to help the local contractors with increased business during these tough economic times.”
AAFES plans to bring 24 exchanges up to current retail design standards in 2010.
Cleaning up after others
Target donated $50,000 to the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund to protect and rescue wildlife and habitats impacted by the oil spill and restore fragile nesting and breeding grounds damaged by oil infiltration.
“Target is committed to funding programs that provide disaster relief to communities in need,” said Laysha Ward, president of Target community relations and Target Foundation. “Through our donation to the National Wildlife Federation, we hope to help protect the precious coastal resources and wildlife threatened by this crisis and preserve them for the next generation.”
The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization with more than four million members, partners and supporters. The organization is likely to burn through Target’s donation quickly judging from how much BP, the company responsible for the oil spill, has already spent. The oil company said as of Monday it had spent $350 million on various efforts to contain oil hemorrhaging from the ocean floor in addition to cleanup efforts including the use of 275 vessels that so far have recovered about 90,000 barrels of oil.