Photo: Paulo Victor Dias via Pexels

With competition from online retailers having a negative impact on the high street, we know how important it is for any business to have a good website. It can be challenging and time-consuming to run it effectively alongside the many other priorities that you have as a retailer.  However, with potentially hundreds more visits to your virtual shop window each week, can you afford to miss those sales?

We’ve put together a few handy tips that will help you to think about your website and whether it’s working as hard for you as it can be.

1. Make sure it looks good

It sounds obvious, but when’s the last time your website was updated?  Technology can move on at a scary rate sometimes, and what was all the rage ten years ago can look out of place today. Outdated, clunky websites could put customers off. According to Adobe, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the design is unattractive. That’s just based on how the website looks!

So, what does ‘good’ look like? Well there are many opinions about that, and no two websites are the same. But in principle a website should be well-organised, clear and informative. It’s always worth checking out retailer websites that you admire for ideas. An online tool called ‘What’s the CMS’ can tell you/your web designer what software they used to build their site.

Fair Deal Music updated their website in 2018 and wanted it to be user-friendly while reflecting their 30+ years of trading. As Online Sales Manager Woz Szpalek explains:

“Our intention was to make the new website easier for the customer to navigate, reducing the number of steps they had to take to get them to where they wanted to. Improving the search function has improved the conversion almost 3-fold and having the finance option available has also made a positive impact on the conversions.”

2. Once you’ve updated it, keep Google happy

It’s so important that your website is primed for potential customers to find. Google loves a well-designed website and will prioritise the ones that are organised and have fresh content.  Every page, particularly the homepage, should have helpful, well written, concise and clear information.

Fairdeal Music's website

As Google says: “In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.” Google will look at whole paragraphs, not just keywords when it’s deciding which websites to prioritise in a list of search results.

3. Keep it simple

It’s very tempting to put all the information you have on your homepage, so that your visitor doesn’t miss out on everything you have to offer. However, by doing this, you run the risk of overwhelming them with choice, and clutter. And Google doesn’t like that either. Be focused with your content, think of the most important things for your visitors to know – then prioritise this for the homepage and make the rest easy to find with clear navigation.

4. Demonstrate your expertise and bring your store to life

You’re an established retailer, so you’re not just selling a product. You’re selling the knowledge, and expertise gathered over years and decades.  Your website is a great opportunity for you to show your personality and how you can add significant value to any purchase that a customer makes. This is an advantage over a shop that just sells goods online.

If you’re someone who enjoys writing, a blog is a good place to start. You could share short news updates about the shop such as details of events, special offers, or new products that you’re excited about. You could also include profiles about your staff and how they developed their experience. If possible, try and post something regularly (e.g. once a week) to build content for your social media pages.

Video is another excellent tool. With budding musicians heading to YouTube to access tutorials, what better way to demonstrate your amazing instruments by producing a short video clip – maybe you could compare a few different ones, or talk about how to look after them? Hickies Music Store have some fun and engaging tutorial videos on their site, and more on YouTube. Piano Gallery’s homepage features a couple of excellent videos, demonstrating their latest pianos.

5. Keep the conversation going on social media and via newsletters

Your website should offer customers different ways to keep in touch. Social media can work hand in hand with your blog updates to help customers form a picture of your business and what it’s great at. Include clear links to your social media pages so that customers can follow you.

Piano Gallery's home page

If you have enough regular news, a monthly or quarterly newsletter that customers can sign up to can also be beneficial – you can build a database and send customers targeted offers and discounts.

6. Use customer testimonials

Testimonials can be very persuasive – they help businesses to build trust with potential customers, making them more willing to buy from you.  According to a 2018 survey by Brightlocal, positive online reviews make 68% of consumers more likely to use local businesses.  If you can get your happy customers to send a photo or a video clip, then even better. Some websites use Trustpilot as a quick and easy way to encourage customer feedback. You could also encourage your customers to leave a review on your Facebook page.

7. Don’t forget the small screen

A study by the Office of National Statistics in August 2018 revealed that 78% of UK adults access the internet on their mobile device.  Your website may look great on a big laptop screen, but it needs to be easy to navigate on a phone too. In technical terms, this normally means having a ‘responsive website’, which automatically adjusts to the size of the screen you’re using. They also load quicker, so if you’re planning a website refresh any time soon, make sure it’s responsive. Google could lower your website’s ranking (where it appears in search results) if it takes too long to load on a mobile.

We hope these tips are helpful.  If you’re not sure where or how to start, just think of how you’d like a customer to feel when they walk into your shop.  Anyone visiting a store would want to feel welcome, that they can find what they’re looking for– and that they’d like to come back. Now, have a look at your website – or even better, ask a few potential customers to have a look at it. Do they get that feeling?

One more thing… promote your Take it away membership

We know that when digital marketing is used well, it has a direct impact on footfall and sales. That’s why we provide all our retailers with assets to promote the Take it away scheme. Retailers who added our web banners to their home page in 2018 experienced the highest volumes of Take it away sales to date. You can access them online and they’re ready to go – from banners in all the standard sizes, to the text that legally needs to be added to any website that promotes the scheme. And, if you need anything in a specific size, please just ask.

If you need help, or more information, please get in touch at

An image of "Gough and Davy's" website

Natalie Bedeau