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After first establishing a children’s wear brand, Jenny Layton and Christine Metcalfe launched women’s wear line The Ark, and three brick and mortar stores soon followed. Understanding the importance of constantly growing their business, however, they decided to launch their online store.
Moving online helped the business keep pace with retail trends. Increasingly, customers expect online shopping to be an option. As Christine says, ‘Some people just prefer to shop online.’
After two years online, The Ark is still growing. Turnover doubled in the last 12 months. Since the online store is cheap and effective to run, it has added value to the business.
Based on their experience, Jenny and Christine suggest:
Online shopping is all about convenience, so make sure you make it convenient. ‘Customers who buy online are confident,’ says Christine. ‘They do not feel the need to try on clothes before they buy them.’
Offer plenty of information about sizing, and set up payment options and exchange policies that will make nervous online shoppers more confident with your site.
Work with a web designer and developer to make it engaging, exciting, and on-brand.
Consider hiring staff who can lend their skills towards improving the website. The Ark have an Online Store Marketing Manager, and will continue adding staff who can maintain social media and a blog, develop video and interactive material, consistently review the site’s design, and continue to personalise the service.
Give your customers a reason to keep coming back by consistently providing new content and products. Make sure to update your stock regularly and let people know about new ranges and promotional deals through emails. This will keep the visitors returning and the orders flowing.
Online customers should receive the same personalised service as those who visit your store. Consider how you can build your relationship with online customers through email – but don’t harass them.
To encourage people to buy online, some stores offer a 100% refund on exchanges, and add in special little touches, such as beautifully wrapped clothing and a gift with orders.
It’s important for a customer to use a payment method they feel comfortable and safe with. There are many platforms that provide safe, user-friendly payment services that will work for both you and your customers.