Yelp recently announced an enhancement to their online reviews platform, aimed at facilitating ecommerce for boutique retailers.
The feature is available through a direct partnership with Shoptiques.com, a platform that houses over 1,000 boutique stores across hundreds of cities in the U.S. In addition to connecting with Yelpers, boutiques will have their products featured to millions of customers already shopping through the Shoptiques platform.
In light of the types of products that are offered at boutiques, having access to an ecommerce platform absolutely makes sense. An ecommerce environment provides consumers not only with the opportunity to purchase online, but also a chance to have a sneak preview of the types of products they are likely to find in-store.
“In a mobile-everything world, having this advantage can be a deciding factor in your success.”
If you are a boutique or specialty-shop owner considering giving this new Yelp feature a try, here are 6 essential ecommerce tips for boutique retailers which will increase the likelihood of success of your ecommerce initiative.
If you plan to sell your products online, then you have two specific opportunities to connect with the customer: the visual experience and the descriptive content.
In direct contrast to a brick and mortar shopping experience, your online customers need to have sufficient information to make a purchasing decision without holding the product in their hands.
So: make it a point to provide descriptions that are informational and appeal to all the senses.
Talk about dimensions, colors, textures, fragrances, and the emotions the product is likely to produce.
A candle, for example, could have a calming lavender fragrance and produce a warm glow, thanks to the specially designed wooden wick. Additionally, you could speak about the size, burn time, and the specific color of the candle. The sensorial appeal and accuracy of your descriptions are essential to the success of your e-commerce strategy.
In direct contrast to the images you are normally uploading to your Yelp profile, product-specific photos must be carefully captured to fully convey all the qualities of the product.
When taking photography for your online e-commerce experience, you must consider color accuracy, and edit images without altering the natural color of the item you are featuring.
It is also very important to capture details and features that make the product special. If you are selling clothing, then you want to capture embellishments, zippers, and even the texture of the fabric. Consider including a photo that contextualizes the product instead of showing it as a stand-alone.
A party dress is best featured with a model, in a context that appears festive. If you are taking your own photos and you are selling small items, then buy and learn to use a softbox or lightbox to create a flat background that does not alter the tonalities of the product.
One of the biggest challenges of having an online shopping experience combined with a brick and mortar experience is making sure your online customer does not have to face the stress and frustration of dealing with an out-of-stock item.
Either make sure your point of sale is synchronized with your e-commerce platform, or create standard operational procedures that include frequent updates to your online inventory, to make sure that whatever your customer sees online is available for shipping.
One of the key competitive advantages of local boutiques is the ability to provide instant gratification by making a product available on the spot. So work on implementing shipping or pickup processes that guarantee the customers will get to enjoy their products right away. Quick product turn-around is a great way to build customer loyalty and improve the customer experience.
An online transaction will give you far more information than you could ever capture on location. Use the information you have about your online customers to engage in customer feedback management, retention and loyalty efforts, such as review generation and special marketing programs.
The early bird does get the worm! By being the first in your town to implement an ecommerce platform in tandem with your Yelp profile, you stand to capture the attention of customers who would otherwise head to your competitors.
Don’t waste a minute. Your customers are already using Yelp to find your business, and leveraging that data to choose you over the competition.
Be the cool kid in town by providing shoppers the option to engage with your business fully online.
Looking for more tips? Check these out:
- Visit yelp.com and – if you haven’t done it yet – verify that you are the owner / manager of your Yelp business listing.
- Update the local business information on your listing – including your business name, address, direct contact details, hours, shipping policies, and more.
- Always remember to keep your inventory up-to-date. Errors and inaccuracies could result in frustrated shoppers, negative customer feedback, and low ratings.
- Upload high-quality photos (of your product and storefront) to your Yelp business listing. It’s a great way to drive engagement and conversions, since Yelpers spend more time on business pages with photos than on pages without photos.
- Stay on top of your brand reputation by actively managing and responding to your online reviews on Yelp.
We can’t wait to see how this new implementation will impact the way small and medium businesses connect with their customers. Combining on-location sales with a strong ecommerce platform is a great way to amplify reach and maximize sales opportunities.
Give it a try and tell us what you think.