One important strategy to grow your ecommerce revenue is to keep your store fresh and vibrant. That includes your content, products, and promotions. It may also mean regularly refreshing your navigation, themes, and other design elements.
When was the last time you really looked at your online store with the same level of critique as you did when you first launched it? Are you featuring seasonal products in your featured items or are Mother’s Day gifts still at the top in August? Are your promo banners the same ones you used last month? When is the last time you created a completely new promotional idea? When did you last add a blog post? A Facebook wall post? Tweets? Do you have your “back to school” category created? Is your navigation optimized to get traffic to the right parts of your website?
Chances are, when you launched the last version of your store, you micromanaged everything about it for several months to ensure it worked properly. But over time, for many of us, critical details of our sites go on autopilot.
Don’t fall into that trap. You may have missed an opportunity to sell something more seasonal. Worse yet, your repeat visitors start seeing the same products over and over and decide to go elsewhere for new ideas.
Your store is the most critical asset you have. Keep it alive and fresh.
10 Freshness Tips
Here are 10 tips to help keep your store current, fresh and relevant. Many of these borrow from basic merchandising concepts. Others are simply common sense.
- Clean up the site weekly. Assign someone to go through the home page, category pages, shopping cart, any other parts of your store where content might be changeable. Clear our old promotions and seasonal content. Make sure there are no missing images. Look at customer product reviews to make sure postings are appropriate. Make sure you don’t have featured products that are out of stock.
- Feature new products. Consumers want new products. Make sure you launch new items, and then tell your visitors about them. Create categories that feature new items. Move new items to the top of your product listings. Write a blog post about them.
- Rotate your promotions. If you feature daily, weekly or seasonal specials, rotate them regularly. In my previous online jewelry stores, our “sale” pages were among the most trafficked. They were the first place many visitors went. If visitors see the same promotions week after week, they stop noticing them at all.
- Experiment with different navigation. When you set up your store, you probably did some level of testing on how people were interacting with your website. When is the last time you did that? Look at your analytics and see what paths people are following. If you have categories that are not drawing attention, but you want people there, then set up an easier path. Likewise, if people are not using a link, get rid of it and try a new one.
- Change your theme. With many modern shopping carts, it is easy to “reskin” your site with a different color theme or background. Give it try. It can give your entire store a new look without a lot of investment. Try a red and green theme at Christmas, and gold and brown one for the fall. Even putting some more theme-oriented images throughout the store will add some freshness.
- Be competitive. Pick your top five competitors and review their stores at least weekly. You may find one offering a 50-percent off sale, or a 2-for-1 deal on your best selling products. You may not decide to match the offer, but you should at least be aware of it and be prepared to modify your promotions or featured items.
- Be aware of design trends. Web design changes continually. It used to be that three columns of category images on your home page were standard. Top and left navigation was required. Not any more. For many retail sites, minimalist is in. White space is good. Huge rotating product banners are now common. Product videos are becoming mandatory in some retail segments. When you shop online, note the things you like and incorporate them in your wish list for your next redesign. Investigate the amazing capabilities of CSS3 and HTML5. Your site may look dated if you don’t keep up.
- Post fresh content. If you maintain a blog — or post to social media sites — add new content regularly. Make sure you monitor posts and communications from customers and prospects, and respond to them quickly.
- Maintain your inventory stock messaging. Nothing annoys me more than a store where the majority of items are “out of stock”. You may give a store the benefit of the doubt, but in most cases it's just being lazy. If you know items are going to be out of stock for more than a day or two, hide them.
- Do a complete redesign every three-to-five years. It should be more often in certain competitive and trendy industries. Design is trendy. If your website is more than five years old without a redesign, chances are your store looks pretty old, which affects visitors view of it.
There are many ways to keep your website fresh. Most are easy to implement. Be sure to assign time and resources to it. If you don’t, that old Christmas promotion may still be lingering somewhere in your store.