Sunday, 21 July 2019

Why My Website Has Its Limits

As a Market Trader I like to think I listen to all the advice around me, particularly advice about adopting the new ways of customer engagement - websites, digital communication, social media, and so on. The future lies in adopting new age ways of selling, right?

So it can be confusing when my customers don’t embrace those opportunities.

I have a web page (it has been operating for over 6 years now). It is basic, but simple to operate and is essentially an online catalog of my best selling lines. I am working with SBMS right now to inject some variety and interest with more product stories and history. I think that is a good move because discussions at my stall often revolve around those aspects.

The website does OK, it pays its way, and sometimes surprises with a string of orders. But a customer yesterday exemplified the reaction I get from online viewers.

This customer, from Queensland, said he had viewed my range online a few times. He decided to wait until his annual trip to Melbourne before purchasing. I asked him if he felt there was more I could do to the online presentation - better photos, videos, more descriptions or measurements, better delivery options? He said the website was adequate but there was no substitute for personal viewing. He pointed out that I was selling hand crafted decor items, not vegetable peelers.

This customer really enjoyed his shopping experience at my stall. He had done some research, roughly decided what he wanted, pre-planned his trip to fit in a market visit, spent 10 or 15 minutes examining my product options, and finally made a decision. Buying online was never going to substitute for that experience.

Having an online presence ticks lots of boxes. This customer may not have found out about me if I hadn't shown up in his google search. But in some product categories hands on viewing is always going to be the clincher and I guess that will apply to leather jackets, knitwear and a whole range of market products. And that’s great because dealing face to face with customers is a hell of a lot more fun than sticking photos on a website.

By Greg Smith

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