Are you marketing and merchandising your website for this summer’s sales potential? According to Internet Retailer, the U.S. Commerce Department said that U.S. online sales totaled $225.5 billion in 2012, up 15.8% from $194.7 billion in 2011. With the exception of sales in categories not commonly bought online—
Internet Retailer estimates that e-commerce accounted for 7.6% of total retail sales during the year, up from 6.8% a year earlier. Commerce Department estimates are based on a quarterly survey of more than 11,000 U.S. merchants.
It’s no wonder that such a large marketing emphasis is placed on preparing shopping web sites for each new season and sale. Every effort counts. As the weather finally heats up for the summer, many e-stores have rolled out their new merchandise and revamped their web sites. All businesses, regardless of size or industry, can learn from other creative and competitive websites. Let’s take a look at three examples of big name brands and how they’re poised to sell more this summer:
Target is known for its chic and trendy styles and its unique in-store shopping experience. Target pays special attention to creating this same vibe in its e-store. The web site design is simple, clean and incorporates the signature Target red color to promote brand recognition. Though this main design remains the same year-round, the homepage content is customized to the upcoming holidays and season. Going on right now is a sale on patio furniture and family swimwear. Aside from the featured sales, Target has changed the photos to represent each of its main shopping categories to be summer-themed. For example the “Women’s” category shows a summery dress and the “Sports and Outdoors” category is represented with an above ground pool. These images, though subtle, entice shoppers to click and browse in areas they may have had no original interest in shopping.
What you can learn: The takeaway from Target’s summer-poised marketing is that images are powerful. If you are trying to sell seasonal items, then every image should be carefully chosen to remind shoppers of all the things they enjoy about that season. Even if they weren’t originally in the market for a pool, customers will be intrigued to click on images that pique their interests.
Target.com’s weakness is its lack of content. It’s missing tips or suggestions to help customers visualize how to use its products.
Petsmart’s images are ready for summer. The web site’s main sliding banner greets customers with various pictures of dogs running outside on sunny days. The other still images on the homepage are also of animals in outdoor settings. Moving beyond the homepage, the main items featured are geared toward use in the summer. For example, the dog section has leashes, harnesses and bike trailers aimed at outdoor lovers on the go.
What you can learn: While it’s only April, Petsmart has already positioned its web site with the most summer-related items first. Like end-caps in physical stores, identify your store’s most desirable and in-demand products and place them at the forefront of the e-store.
Petsmart needs to add seasonal content. Currently, its homepage bottom content is duplicated on several category pages, which isn’t great for search or for customers. Petsmart.com could address pet owners’ most frequently asked questions about each category in those spaces. It’s missing opportunities to educate new animal owners about the pros and cons of buying fencing, habitat accessories, and other pet supplies.
Gap is a brand that adapts to every new season. The colors and styles of their clothes act as decorations for the web site and can change the whole tone from summer to winter. Clothing stores start advertising their new lines nearly a season in advance. Today, Gap.com is vibrant, bright and cheery with summer apparel. Even the background graphic on the web site has been changed to read “Be Bright” in art-deco style lettering. From shorts and capri’s to sundresses and tank tops, one would think it’s already August at Gap.com.
What you can learn: Not all e-stores and web sites can be as adaptable to changing for each season as Gap, but if you are – utilize it! Tailor your font, graphics, background and colors to represent each season. Summer products seem to “pop” so much more when accompanied by other summer colors on the site and when your products look good, they sell.
However, the Gap is content light. Sentences are placed over images like memes; but, there are very few words in text above or below page folds. The Gap performs fairly well in search, but it’s likely that online conversions would improve with carefully-crafted content that adds value to the customers’ shopping experiences.
Overall, the common theme among these e-stores is to move your seasonal and most desirable products to the front. Incorporate the colors of the seasons, but stay true to your brand. Place seasonal items on your homepage and tailor your images and content toward creating vibes that put shoppers in the mood for summer.
Don’t forget those whose experiences are enhanced beyond the layout, art, and images by the words they read. Store content should educate the consumer, complement images, and describe the feel of the season.
Is your e-store prepared for summer shoppers?
~Stephanie & Jean
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