A simple comparison between Online and Offline Selling:
- Offline Stores (Traditional retail stores) compete for location. Shops at crowded areas, with a lot of foot traffic perform generally better. Real estate value is dependent on where the dense population is.
- Online Stores also compete for location – the top of search engine results. People go around the web to look for information. Online real estate value is dependent on who provides the most relevant and important content.
Consider this simple reality and now find out how you can leverage on it.
This simple reality can be an eye-opener. In the real world, people walk around… They go to school, or the office, or some other place. The path they take can determine the relative success of any shop. This is one of the reasons why it is taught in basic business school to target corner locations. There is thought to be more foot traffic at a corner location than in the middle of a street.
Let’s look at convenience stores. There is always a chance that somebody passing by it would go inside it, look around, and buy something. There is actually a statistic behind it – it is estimated that 3 percent of foot traffic go inside convenience stores. Naturally, the more foot traffic, the better!
Online, there is really no foot traffic. I think I would call it more like EYE-TRAFFIC. People essentially LOOK FOR/AT information online. I’ve read somewhere that a big percentage of what people do online is either to search, or read email. Just think about it, what do you do most of the time when you are online?
Knowing this tidbit, the online world becomes a totally different experience for anyone who would sells. How would a traditional retailer make money in an online world?
Some of my suggestions would be:
- Cater to the needs of an information-seeker. For example, a person in a retail store would look, taste, feel, smell and listen to items being sold. He/she can?t do that online, so she seeks for information about products instead. What could an online seller give her/him? Product reviews, specifications and item summaries.
- Become a resource of information for your customers. One way of doing this is providing How-To instructional materials. Are you selling fish? Why not provide a website that details instructions on how to take care of pet fishes?
- Give a visitor a reason to comeback by providing updated info or news tidbits. Your website becomes something like a newsmagazine. Just think about it, if people drool over Gadgets, wouldn’t they want to buy it as well?
- If real estate value online is the top of the search results, then your website should be there. Fortunately, not too many people have digested this in their minds yet. If you get ahead of your competition on this, then that’s already a big advantage.
- Use popular keywords with little competition to get to the top of the Search Engines. One technique I’ve seen being done online is to use tools like NicheBot or Wordtracker to find keywords related to your business. The businesses then reserve the website’s domain name to match exactly these keywords. For example, if the keywords “juggling while sitting” is popular, with no competition, and you happen to sell juggling paraphernalia, then you could create a website like juggling-while-sitting.com. It sounds a bit weird, but it seems to work. It also helps that the website be rich with text content.
Knowing and addressing this fundamental difference can mean success to your online business!