What Consumers Want
ity concerns of shoppers very seriously.
"No matter what they go to a Web site for, consumers want security and privacy," said Sean Sullivan, who is associate publisher, marketing, Good Housekeeping magazine, New York, and a member of the panel that judges the Food Marketing Institute's annual advertising awards. "They want a site that will not have trap doors." Good Housekeeping, which has long tested products before permitting them to buy advertising, now closely examines Web sites as well before allowing their ads in the magazine.
2. Make your site user-friendly.
"People are using phone lines," Sullivan explained. "Sites that take a long time to load run into a patience factor. People prefer sites that are consumer-friendly, easy to access."
3. But also make it content-rich.
"Once they get there, they want a site that is engaging and has depth," Sullivan noted. "There should be a lot of things to do, such as programs that help you sort by price, location and category."
Site Design 101
Meals.com, Bellevue, Wash., which has developed sites for many supermarket companies (including Marsh, Ukrop's and King Kullen) has created the following five-step approach to e-marketing.
4. Appoint clear champions from both the business user group and technology.
A strong business leader can identify the key priorities that will have a positive impact on the business, while a strong technical leader will have the skills necessary to develop a site that realizes these benefits. This is true even if you outsource development of the site; it will still have to interact with your existing technology organization. And if this dynamic duo doesn't have high visibility with the chief executive officer, expect the project to take at least twice as long as scheduled.
5. Set clear objectives for what you want your on-line presence to accomplish.
Jupiter Media Matrix, New York, projects that 15% of shopping will be done on-line by 2010. That would mean that even 10 years out, 85% of your business will still be done in your stores. What can you do to enhance your relationships with your consumers on-line that will help them on their next trip? Which other groups do you want to talk to? Customers? Investors? Potential employees? Store personnel? Will you allow shopping on-line? Once you've set clear objectives and priorities, decide which elements you want to build, and who you'll partner with to deliver the remainder. Even the Web sites with huge development staffs generally outsource highly specialized functionality or content. 6. Offer your customers something useful on-line that they'll use every week.
Is turning on a computer to view a flier you may already have in front of you (from a newspaper or other source) truly compelling? What services can you add to your site that will make your customer's life easier, more interesting, or save them money? What is the single service that you could offer that would truly make your site a weekly destination for your customers?
7. Expect to have to refresh or update your site weekly, and conduct major revisions at least twice a year.
Technology and consumer expectations are accelerating in their demands to be state of the art. Like it or not, you are competing for attention with sites that have full-time Web development teams many times the size of your entire IT department. Unlike store renovations, the process of change on the Web will be continuous.
8. Leverage your "bricks" traffic to create clicks.
You have thousands of customers in your store every week. About half of them have computers. It's cheaper for you to promote to these consumers than to "buy traffic" on the Internet. Be very specific in promoting a benefit of your Web site to give them a reason to visit. "Yourstore.com" on grocery bags doesn't cut it.