busninessYou only have 10 seconds to engage and retain a visitor to your Web site. Today’s Internet-savvy consumer has become very good at assessing a Web site in seconds. Is your home page welcoming? Do you have an “About Us” page? What kind of help are you offering to keep them on the site? Are you making it easy to find what they are looking for?

Before they’re willing to believe what they see, agree with what you’re telling them, hand over their contact information or surrender their hard-earned cash, they’re scrutinizing every component of your Web site to determine if they can trust you. Every visitor to your site is placing something sensitive in your hands: namely, their trust. Sure, they’re being cautious, but it’s your job to help them feel at ease and to instill confidence in your business.

1. Is your store perceived as credible? Strong content can persuade visitors to stick around. It can also help motivate other Web sites to link to yours. Embed your Facebook and Twitter feeds on your home page. Visitors will take the time to read some of the posts. They want to see what others are saying about you.

Another effective tool that adds to your credibility is the use of video. Create a brief video tour of your store. It doesn’t have to be high-tech; just using your phone or tablet will be fine. Start by writing a brief (one- or two-minute) script that walks a customer through your store. Next, sketch out a road map of your floor plan and run through your script a few times. Make sure you’re covering all the areas you want people to know about.

When you are ready to begin recording, start with the camera on yourself and offer a brief, personalized welcome message. Proceed with your tour and walk through the store. Don’t go too fast, and make sure to mention your product brands and the types of services you provide, along with the key benefits for each.

When finished, upload the video to YouTube and copy the embed code. Place the code for the video on your home page. Here’s a tip: do not set the video to play automatically when the page is loaded. This will make most people close their browser or navigate away from your site.

2. Are you believable? Oscar Wilde said, “As for believing things, I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.” This is exactly how you build credibility and keep people on your site. The content that you’ll place needs to tell the truth and to be unique to your business. Although you might not be the biggest store in your city, you certainly have some incredible competitive advantages. Tell your customers about them. Reinforce the benefits they will receive from building a relationship with you.

One of the best ways to help establish credibility is through customer reviews. Personally, I believe that customer reviews are one of the most under-utilized tools available to music stores that have Web sites. First, you can use the data collected to get firsthand information about what customers are buying. You’ll learn what people like about your products and services, providing valuable information as you expand your selection and services.

Secondly, reviews make shoppers more confident about making a purchase. There is nothing more powerful and motivating than reading the words of a happy customer. Are you short on reviews from customers? Create a brief survey and ask people to provide details about their shopping experience. Enter all the e-mail addresses into monthly drawings for gift certificates or other prizes.

Lastly, if you receive a bad review, it’s not the end of the world! You can turn the negative into a positive by addressing it head on and showing other customers your level of top-quality customer service. Statistics show that 30 percent of consumers become suspicious of a business that doesn’t post any negative reviews. About 68 percent of consumers place greater trust in reviews with good and bad scores. Nobody’s perfect. Consumers expect to see negative reviews, and those customers who seek them out convert 67 percent more. Negative reviews can actually build trust. Engaging with negative reviews should be part of your ongoing customer-retention strategy.

3. To shop or not to shop? That is the question! Are you not interested in having a shopping cart within your Web site? Why not? Remember, you have just 10 seconds to impress and retain customers. If they don’t see a way to complete a transaction (purchase or payment) with you, they will simply (and immediately) move on. I understand that many stores think they are too small to compete online and feel like they’re in a losing race to the lowest price. However, it’s better to have a shopping cart on your site, which gives you a fighting chance to be perceived as a business that can provide customers with a complete online experience, than to have them bail from a total lack of confidence in your business.

Added sales are a good problem to have. Yes, this will require new workflows, policies and, possibly, additional personnel down the road. But, don’t put the cart before the horse. You’ll need to build consumer trust and confidence before they will part with their money. A decent-looking Web site with a nice selection of reasonably priced products and services will always outperform an information-only Web site.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s retail sales data for the third quarter of 2013, total retail sales increased 4.7 percent year-over-year. By comparison, e-commerce sales increased by a much higher 18.2 percent during the same time period. Today’s shopper is expecting you to provide services that they feel are essential to an online world. That includes the ability to make a purchase or process a payment via your Web site.

Music stores can breathe easy, however, because brick and mortar is not dead. In fact, it plays a leading role in building customer loyalty and supporting financial performance, according to a report from consulting firm A.T. Kearney. The firm studied 3,200 U.S. and U.K. consumers and found that they spent 61 percent of their shopping time in stores. Moreover, the study found 40 percent of shoppers spent more than they had planned while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. By comparison, only 25 percent of shoppers spent more than they had expected when shopping online.

The top reasons why consumers visit music stores are the instant gratification of taking an item home, experiencing the sights and sounds of music products, socializing with friends and family, and learning from store staff. What do all of these have in common? They all build your credibility.

David Hall is Vice President – Sales & Marketing for Cutting-Edge Solutions. Their e-commerce products, The Generator and Pro-Active Websites, are utilized by leading vendors and retailers within the music products industry. Contact him at david@pro-activewebsites.com.


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