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Keys to Developing a ‘Sticky’ Store

Create an environment that brings customers back, again and again.

While you might think of “sticky” as an examination of your good housekeeping skills or ponder whether it’s one of those “Helpful Hints from Heloise” aimed at eliminating grubby fingerprints from display cases, “stickiness” in your store is definitely desirable and should never be eliminated. Quite the opposite, it’s strongly encouraged.

Stickiness here refers to how effectively your online store or other such presence attracts customers to take a look—and once they’ve ventured in, how well it keeps their interest to thoroughly explore your offerings and make a purchase.

Once a sale has been made, stickiness also works to compel buyers to return soon. A solidly sticky store also prompts visitors to tell others about their good experience, essentially gaining you word-of-mouth advertising at no further effort of your own.

But what if your store seems a bit dusty—that is, it’s not getting the sort of traffic you’d like, nor is it keeping visitors around longer than a few seconds? Don’t worry. Here are some ways to improve your online drawing power and encourage visitors to step through your virtual threshold, shop longer and return more often.

Adhering to this method of customer engagement—attract, explore and return—will help you to develop a sticky presence others will envy.

Attract their attention

First things first, you need to present an allure to your offerings that will draw passers-by away from the bustling crowd and into your store. Apply one or more of the other methods previously discussed within the Auctiva Education library:

  • Utilize the best listing keywords and implement the same practice in your Web store’s meta-data;

  • Employ strategic timing in presenting your goods (that is, offer what they want at the precise moment they want it);

  • Make use of loss leaders to draw in bargain hunters;

  • Or specialize in a niche market, rather than attempting to serve all goods to all people.

Use all the tools at your disposal, choosing the best for your particular sales and marketing approach and draw in the customers.

Now that you have folks stepping into your store, ensure they don’t make a hasty departure

Keep them browsing

Now that you have folks stepping into your store, ensure they don’t make a hasty departure. It’s disheartening to learn that visitors have dropped by, taken a cursory look around and then headed out as quickly as they came.

Why did they leave? Well, like any of us, your customers aren’t just looking for quality merchandise, they also want a quality shopping experience that caters to their needs and interests. Though you’ll naturally begin with desirable merchandise that is (hopefully) enticingly priced, don’t overlook these other “products” that will attract customers, extend their time of stay and establish your virtual store as a favorite and frequent destination:

  • Provide useful and interesting information that educates (and entertains) visitors in regard to the sorts of things you sell. Written by yourself or cited from other sources (with permission, of course), this added information helps comfort and convince visitors about your wares and related items—be it historical data, industry trends or even trivia—and gives your store an increased value in your customer’s eyes.

  • Customers love a forum where they can offer their opinions or ask questions. You can satisfy this urge by providing even the simplest of customer surveys, reader polls or suggestion boxes. The information they share benefits you, too, as it helps you learn more about what your visitors want, like and seek in an online dealer.

  • Serve up plenty of useful links that can further benefit your visitors. You can cooperatively exchange links with others online. You promote their site, and they yours, while your customers benefit from the “hub-like” quality your store now provides.

Over-decorating can be counterproductive, often hiding your great offerings amid excessive visual hoopla

Keep your store current

This is the most enticing aspect of a well-maintained destination yet the most difficult to sustain. Once you’ve succeeded in keeping your visitors browsing your store and purchasing your goods, you’ll need to ensure there’s something new for them upon each return visit. Online studies found that offering new content (either information or merchandise) on a daily basis, encouraged visitors to return every few days. If you only update weekly, visitors will likely return once every few weeks. If you’re limited to updating once a month, visitors will probably only visit once every few months—if at all.

As these findings bear, the more often you update your store and offerings, the more frequently your customers return. The more they visit your store, the more likely you remain in the forefront of their minds when it comes to shopping for the sort of goods (and information) you regularly offer.

Keep your store simple

Once you get into a rhythm of updating your store, you might find it tempting to go all out and deliver so much content (especially images and cute decor) that you risk bogging down the display. Aside from the fact that large images that can take too long to display, over-decorating your store can become counterproductive, often hiding your great offerings amid excessive visual hoopla.

Avoid clutter by keeping your store neat, well organized and fast loading. If possible, adopt a design that customers can become familiar with and can navigate quickly and easily through. This, again, makes your store a pleasure to revisit, helping repeat customers find what they’re looking for while quickly determining what’s new for today.

Keep them coming back for more

Most importantly, trust your own instincts and shopping attitudes. Keep yourself attuned to what you like and dislike about the online destinations you frequent and you’ll be likely to develop a store that attracts a reliable base of repeat customers. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes at all times. When you think about the stickiness factors that you prefer, and apply those to your own store, you’ll excel at meeting and exceeding your customers’ expectations upon their every visit.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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