I set up the first website for my business two years ago, having registered the singhs-premier.com and .co.uk domain names. The original site was very much a trial and produced by a friend from a brief that that I put together.
I wanted to have a website that would:
- Give my store an Internet presence
- Provide information such as opening times and the categories that we stock
- Promote our special offers
- Act as a community forum and a way for customers to communicate with me online.
To get customers to use the site I used in-store signs and messages to invite customers to use different features such as letting me know how our staff services are good and bad. I have found these comments invaluable as they have helped me to inform staff when they are doing well and indicate areas of training needs when they don’t.
My programmer also designed a smart phone app both for iPhone and Android, and QR codes to use around the store. For the launch, we gave away a free can of Euroshopper energy drink to each customer who added the app to their phone.
Over the past two years I have been pleased with what the site has achieved, however it has been a definite learning curve. When I reviewed the site earlier this year, I found that the extra pages and features that I have added had made it too complicated; the site statistics also showed that some areas were not being used.
With the experience of my first version of our website I decided that I needed to find a professional website designer to create a new version. After searching the web for suitable candidates, I took a look at the sites that these companies had developed. The work that I liked best was done by The Web Guys, so I made an appointment to visit their office to discuss what I wanted from my site. I was impressed by their approach and price so I placed my order.
Again I had prepared a brief about the look of the site, it’s purpose, content and future possibilities. The brief included all the initial needs from the first version of my site and I added:
- A blog where I could easily add content
- A live chat facility for customers to talk directly with me
- Opening hours and location details, including a map
- A Facility to collect customers email addresses for direct newsletter marketing.
- Potential for future developments such as online shopping.
The new site went live on 3rd September and we are very happy. It has not suffered any glitches as yet (it was fully tested by the Web Guys before launch!) and we have continued to promote and ask for feedback about the site in-store.
I believe that to be a success my store needs a presence on the Internet and we will continue to develop our online activities as more customers use it. We will continue to promote specific online offers to encourage this as we have done during the last two years. For me siting back and waiting for it to happen won’t do. I know that my customers will help me to understand the full potential of the Internet for my store and I know that a successful website needs to be an active one.
Jai’s guide to understanding store websites
- Investigate business on the Internet both locally and around the world
- Understand what you want to achieve with a website.
- Copy the best ideas
- Write a brief wish list of the features for your website
- Work out how it will work with and benefit your store
- If you don’t have the skills to produce your own website yourself find a web design company who you can work with, definitely do your research and don’t rush your decision
- Think about the future and allow for future development
- Promote the site in your store.