Whether you’re a Savvy Starter with a newly opened storefront or a Growing Retailer expanding into a second location, your first point of contact with customers isn’t happening at your store. It’s happening on the web!
Make sure your website is helpful, welcoming, and convinces customers to stop into your store by conducting a retail store website homepage audit.
The First Time a Customer Visits Your Retail Store
I recently came across an article from Forbes titled “Small Business Statistics of 2023.”
The entire article is a fascinating read. But one of the statistics that really stood out to me was this: over three-quarters of shoppers visit a business’s website before their physical location.
It went on to say…
“Just because a business operates in-person doesn’t mean brick and mortars don’t need a website. In fact, 76% of online shoppers reportedly check a business’s website before visiting their physical store or location.
As surprising as this may initially be, the reality is that the web has become consumers’ first stop. And this is good news for brick and mortar businesses because it means that you don’t have to depend solely on foot traffic or word of mouth to get customers or clients through your doors.”
Your Step-By-Step Retail Store Website Homepage Audit
Customers visit retail stores’ websites to determine if it’s worth visiting in person. That means your website is more important than ever before, as it directly impacts your foot traffic.
Let’s review some key ingredients to a successful retail store website homepage.
Do you have pictures of your storefront and/or interior pics on your home page?
For most brick and mortar stores, most of your traffic and sales will come from your physical space.
Share a picture of your storefront so potential customers know what to look for when they arrive.
Do you have social media icons/links on the homepage of your website? If so, where?
The best place for these is usually in the header or footer of your retail store website homepage.
Luckily, many website platforms already offer the option to add these. Just make sure your links are updated, and you turn this feature on in your settings.
Personally, my happy place is Instagram. If I visit a small business’ website and immediately connect with their posts, I’ll give them a follow!
Does the “above the fold” section convey what your store is all about?
Above the fold is a term that describes what you see on the front page of a newspaper before unfolding it. These days, it applies to websites, too: it’s what visitors see on your website without scrolling down the page.
Whatever you put above the fold should immediately convey what your store is all about. The image, copy, or video you display above the fold should immediately tell a website visitor why they’ll want to shop at your store!
You’ll want to check what’s “above the fold” on both mobile and desktop views.
Does your home page provide a way to contact you/the store?
Having a way to contact you or the store with questions is a great way to connect with visitors and give them excellent customer service.
While having a contact form can be annoying sometimes—especially when people ask a question already answered on your site!—it’s still a nice customer service touchpoint.
Can visitors quickly learn about YOU and your store’s background, story, or history? If so, how?
This part of your retail store website homepage audit is vital.
Please share your story, whether it’s a small section on your home page or an entire page about you linked in the header menu. Remember, people buy from people.
Is your store address on your home page?
Bonus points if you embed a Google map of your location! This can be incredibly helpful for someone who has never visited your store or is new to the area.
Are your store hours visible and clear on your home page?
I’ll admit, not having your store hours on your homepage is a personal pet peeve of mine.
As a consumer, PLEASE let me know when I can shop with you. I don’t want to have to guess! Your store hours should be quick and easy to find on your homepage.
Do you have testimonials and a way to leave a review for your store on your homepage?
Last but not least, we all know the power of reviews!
Consider embedding public Google reviews of your store with a reviews widget, such as Tagembed or Elfsight. You can also have a link to leave a review for your store on your website, which helps you collect more testimonials.
If you’re sharing a customer’s words that they shared directly with you (i.e., not on a public platform like Google or Yelp), be sure to ask for their consent before adding it to your homepage.
Helpful Retail Websites Bring In More Customers (And More Sales)
Hopefully, you were able to say “yes” to each of the questions in this retail store website homepage audit! If not, determine if anything on the list above that you don’t have on your website is something you want to add.
It’s easy to overlook some of these features, especially as we spend so much time working on and looking at our own websites. We sometimes miss the obvious.
I can’t say for sure that 76% of people go to your website before visiting your store, but I am confident that many do. Completing the retail website homepage audit I’ve shared will ensure that those who do visit your website are excited to visit your store.
Another interesting stat shared in the same Forbes article: Nearly 1 out of 3 businesses still DON’T have a website.
eCommerce is a big undertaking and may not be for all store owners. However, I believe a simple website is extremely valuable and worth the time, effort, and cost for most indie retailers—especially if you use the website platform that comes with your point of sale system.
Don’t forget to complete your retail store website homepage audit with the questions above and be as helpful as possible to those visiting your website! And if you don’t have a website, consider setting up a simple one.
- Small Business Statistics of 2023 (Forbes)
- Free resource: Open a Brick and Mortar Store Checklist
- Take the Savvy Shopkeeper Quiz for your free shopkeeping journey roadmap, including curated resources and podcast episodes to help you work less, profit more, and grow.
- [02:04] The First Time a Customer Visits Your Retail Store
- [04:07] Your Step-By-Step Retail Website Homepage Audit
- [11:54] Helpful Retail Websites Bring In More Customers (And More Sales)