I was pondering what to write about this afternoon when here in the office we stumbled across a few quite dated e-commerce sites and it lead me to ask myself a question:
Do you really need a modern looking and functioning website to sell online?
Yes.
Blog over.

 

No not really, I’ll go further into detail.

So here’s something I hear quite often:

“My e-commerce site has been working fine for years! Ok, so we don’t sell as much as we used to but our customers like how our site looks and works!”

I’m going to break that sentence down into 3 areas, in the hope to give a clear and succinct reply to it – I’m hoping this might help a few E-retailers out there not just come up to date but to also survive as a business.

If you think I’m being dramatic, I will start with a short anecdote. Some years ago I did an audit of a website, the results of which I made some recommendations for vital improvements to the website. At the time, these were ignored, with a sentence quite similar to the one above being used. Sadly, about a year later, I overheard one of our sales team taking a call from that same customer who was closing their store – sales had dried up and they could no longer afford to run the business. They had a chance but it was too late. I’m not making that story up; ask my Mum; she raised me well, I’m an honest person and it saddens me to see someone have to shut up shop.

 

My E-commerce site has been working fine for years!

Let me start with a metaphor. It’s 1987. Picture if you will, the best salesman in town. He’s got a brand new suit on (with massive shoulder pads), he’s stood next to his brand new shiny red Ford Escort and he’s clutching a brand new Motorola DynaTAC 8000X mobile phone. He’s a hot shot salesman and everything he touches turns to gold.

Roll forward to 2017 and our top gun is wearing the same suit, has the same car and same mobile. Those things that were the symbols of his success are now tattered, broken down and completely redundant.

Technology moves on, the way we use and interact with technology moves on and if you don’t evolve with it then you’ll get left behind. But if you don’t believe me, meet me at the local Blockbuster and we’ll chat about it. Don’t get me wrong, last year I ate a restaurant on Lake Como whose menu and recipes hadn’t changed in 70 years, but what might have once worked well, won’t necessarily always work well. Websites aren’t baked fish – remember that.

If your business was once viable with a big market, there’s no doubt that someone will spot that you’re not evolving, swoop in and do it better than you.

 

Okay, so we don’t sell as much as we used to…

If this is the case, then it has to be looked into. You have to be asking yourself why; the longer you leave it, the harder it is to recover. There could be a number of reasons why you don’t sell as much as you used to:

  • People aren’t buying as much nowadays
  • Your products aren’t as relevant
  • The market is more flooded
  • Your website isn’t very good anymore

Again, this all comes down to evolution, and again let’s look at Blockbuster. The warning signs were there but they stuck to a nostalgic idea of how people want films. They failed to evolve to market demands and their product was no longer relevant. If Blockbuster had followed the Netflix model then no doubt, with their brand ability, they would now be the go to guys for streaming video, and leading the new video revolution.

 

But our customers like how our site looks and works!

I’m a musician. Whenever I put a new track online, inevitably my good old Mum tells me that my new song is great. It doesn’t mean it is though. One woman’s unwavering support does not take me to number 1. The point here is that this part of the sentence comes immediately after “my sales are failing”. Have you heard from all of those potential customers who aren’t buying anything? Not one person takes the time to say, “I didn’t buy from your site because it’s awful.” They just leave and buy elsewhere.

If this is something you might say, have a serious think about it. Look at your analytics or get a professional to analyse your site and find the pain points.

 

So what’s the take home from all this?

The take home is that you need to evolve. You need to improve, you need to stay relevant. Slipping sales don’t recover themselves and there’s usually a reason for them. Without finding and addressing those reasons, you risk losing your business entirely. None of your competitors selling the same products are building their new websites to look like they were made 10 years ago.

It’s time to metaphorically buy a new suit, upgrade the old car and get the latest mobile phone by taking a serious look at your site, your competitors and thinking about the future.

If you need help with this, consider a Sellerdeck Audit or talk to us today about upgrading your site.