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Times are Changing

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I  have been in the magazine business for some time now. I have always focused on the book’s physical format. It has always been the first and foremost thing I put my time and energy into.

As the Internet continues to grow, expand and become more popular, it gets harder and harder not to notice it. At Pet Age, we have to spend a lot of time making sure our website and social media is up to date. Because of this, I spend a lot of time on the Internet trying to find out what makes a more successful Internet page, or social media page.

During that time, I stumbled across two interesting articles. One is on American Express’ Open Forum and the other was a story about CVS’ digital strategy. I think between the two of them, there is a lot of good information that is important for retailers to know.

In the March 4 article by Erika Napoletano, she wrote about the reason people aren’t buying off your website. The knee-jerk response by most people is that something is wrong with my look or appearance; that I must update my logo or change my website display. But that’s not why people are just browsing your website without purchasing anything. It comes from a lack of emotion. Essentially it explains that when someone comes to your site, in order to keep them there, or keep them coming back, you have to motivate them, give them an emotion or sensation from coming to your site.

Personally, I think this gives the pet industry a huge leg up. We are in an industry that is driven by emotion. People purchase all these pet items because of the strong emotions and love they feel for their pets.
So how do you improve the customer experience online? First off, do the simplest thing possible: ask. When a customer comes in, find out if they have been to your website. If so, what they would do differently? What do they like about it, what don’t they like? Maybe have a computer in your store and bring people to it and ask them to see what they like and don’t like.

Another great way to improve customer experience, according to Napoletano, is to make a list of ways your products and services make your customers’ lives better. After you have that, review your website with a neutral party member, someone who can be objective about your brand, and find out if your site clearly addresses the idea your products make lives better and if it demonstrates how your products do that.

As the internet has expanded, so has the way we connect to it. I am constantly on my phone or tablet checking different websites and apps. According to a Jan. 22 article from Retailing Today by Antoinette Alexander, CVS’ website traffic from 2012 to 2013 increased 75 percent. In the last, year the CVS mobile site and app increased 250 percent.

As the popularity of smartphones and tablets become larger, it’s important to make sure your website is built to handle it. Your tablet website and mobile website should be easier to navigate than your computer website. Make it easy for people to purchase items on their phone or tablet.

Just like in your brick-and-motor store, the easier you make it for people to purchase things online, the greater your chance of closing the sale.

- Craig Rexford

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