For years, our newsletters have stressed the fact that the success of your business depends on you taking the fullest advantage of all the Internet has to offer. This one is different. It's not the success of your business that depends upon a well-designed, search engine-optimized, promoted, navigationally intuitive, e-commerce-enabled Web presence. Given the current economic climate, it's your business' SURVIVAL!
When the economy slows, the available market for many goods and services decreases. If the economy is impacting the demand for the goods and services your business provides, you have two options: accept the consequences of lower sales, or work to increase your share of the smaller market.
A textbook example of a company that took the latter route is Kohl's. While overall in-store sales have been tumbling, their online sales are increasing, and not just by a little bit. While comparable store sales declined by nearly 7 percent for the quarter ended November 1, web sales for that same period rose by 92.2%! While many businesses are struggling, it's a safe bet that nearly doubling your sales could be called a bright spot.
But just "being" on the Web doesn't automatically guarantee an increase in business. Amazon.com just finished their best year ever, and American Apparel and Gap also increased their Web sales albeit by much smaller margins. But Web sales for Coldwater Creek and Williams Sonoma decreased during that same period. Watch for the possibility that both companies will be out of business by next Christmas.
While sales for brick and mortar locations continue to disappoint almost universally, smart business owners and corporate decision makers see the Web as the greatest potential area for growth. And Kohl's commitment to improve and more aggressively promote the Kohls.com "brand" has paid off in spades.
And while your business may not experience the same $40 million bump in sales Kohl's got just by re-designing your shopping cart and doing a better job of promoting your online brand, it's a safe bet that you'll see some sort of increase in sales... especially if your competitors are using the down economy as an excuse not to.
Even if your business isn't a pure play "shopping" site, you can experience an increase in meaningful transactions by doing the same thing Kohl's did: analyzing your online transactional processes, improving them, and promoting them... and not just haphazardly, but strategically, methodically and consistently... as if the survival of your business depended on it.
Because it just might.