How to create a branded retail experience in the digital world

According to the Business Monitor International (BMI) India Retail Report total retail sales in India will grow from US$ 395.96 billion in 2011 to US$ 785.12 billion by 2015, this clearly shows that the retail industry is clearly booming and improving day by day. Although the retail industry has such a strong brand offline, the influence of it online is less than half of that.

More than 50% of Indians do not buy anything online, but they utilize the internet 100% to do the research for whichever product they want to buy. And the remaining 50% who do purchase online are sometimes quite happy and not so happy with the shopping experience. It so happens that many a times you don't always get what you see on the net and that's why the disappointment.

What this post is about a just a few tips for retailers for improving their marketing presence online and just a few suggestions as to what they need to look into for creating a branded retail experience

Internet Marketing Tips for Retailers

1. Send a Press Release - One of the quickest and fastest ways to spread word about your product and services.

2. Submit Product Feeds - Retailers that sell products online should most use product feeds to reach a broader audience. A product feed is simply a file generated from the website that lists product details such as photos, descriptions, pricing and even specials.

3. Get Your Knowledge Out - In many ways, retailers can showcase themselves as the voice of authority, one such way is to host classes, workshops and even webinars.

4. 3rd Party Newsletter - Newsletters are a great way to keep customers updated about your latest offerings. You can rent / buy a list and send out an email newsletter to the audience.

5. Grab local listings - Local listings are a big way to get people to visit your shop. Google and other directories along with search engines are creating tools for local shoppers to find your business, provide maps of location, hours of operation and even coupons and the best part is that most of it is free.

6. Use social Media - Using social media is a quick fire way to get more customers on your store each day and stay with you for a long time.

Having the products in store and the means to promote the same using a secure ecommerce store is a good sign of things to come. Many online stores are doing a lot to improve their customer experience and in many ways, online retailers have a big advantage. They have access to real-time data on every visitor and every purchase. They can use heat-mapping, conversion tracking, funnel analysis and
multi-variate testing to prove that design A is 'better' than design B.

The data that they capture can provide great insights into customer behavior. But brands aren't just about rationality - brands are emotional shortcuts which help consumers navigate to a different world.

So how can brands go about creating unique and memorable online retail experiences?

Online shopping experiences don't start on the homepage of your website. Chances are there will be a Google search somewhere down the line, and if your site doesn't rank for the relevant keywords, you'll fail there itself. Paid search advertising certainly helps a lot out here, but in the long-run, you need content.

Once a customer finds your site, there are multiple opportunities to deliver experiences in a typical online transaction.

 - Is your site organized and consistent with your brand values?

 - Do your product descriptions sound the same as to when you meet sales assistants on the shop

 - Is the payment process friendly?

 - Is the online price the same as the offline price? Why should I pay a different price?

Just because a transaction takes place online, it doesn't mean there's no place for the same brand experience in the real world. You normally split your marketing team into online and offline, but customers just see your brand. If a customer needs help with their purchase, the telephone experience has to be present with the online experience.

For retailers who succeed in creating rich and immersive brand experiences, the online world offers unlimited opportunities. Customers will review their purchases, create wish-lists, subscribe to email newsletters and share your content with their friends.

About the author : Amitabh Ramani is a Contributing Editor for TradeBriefs. He can be reached at amitabhdoc@gmail.com.