The value of online food sales is set to almost double by 2015, according to research carried out by IGD, the international food and grocery experts.
This is because the flexibility of the internet as a sales platform really opens up the field to businesses, broadening the range of customers that can be reached. For small businesses especially this expands their potential market from a local, to national or even international level.
Building a business presence on the internet results in lower costs and overheads compared to a real world store. Goods can be sold direct to customers and allow for a reduced workforce. A website is open around the clock, so customers are not limited by opening times, nor do they have to contend with bustling crowds or jostling long queues, and those who may be house bound or restricted by a disability can simply pick, click and buy straight from the comfort of home.
For the food industry, a website is likely to be the most consistently publicized information available and the most searched for and accessed by potential customers. It is therefore very important in the high growth industry of e-retail to create the best impression and most engaging content for your website.
Alfred Enderby Ltd Specialists in Traditional Smoked Fish, design by Blue Spire (click to enlarge)
Good E-commerce web design is essential to a successful and convenient experience for both customer and retailer, providing user-friendly shopping experiences and effective food marketing so customers become returning ones and recommend your website to friends and associates.
The design of a website e-commerce store is the welcome display, the front door to the business. A shoddily put together storefront in the physical world, with carelessly displayed products and a chaotic layout, is unlikely to catch the eye of passersby or earn their patronage. Likewise a poorly designed website is detrimental to a business. Customers need to know the business cares about their image and the products they’re selling. This can be demonstrated by a willingness to put time and effort into creating an attractive design, while ensuring the website is organized, smooth and simple to use with well placed navigation and tantalizing imagery. This array of little details combines to create a positive and engaging browsing experience for customers, because a quality website hints at quality products and services.
Especially when it comes to food it is necessary to create a feast for the eyes and trigger the other senses by capturing the imagination with vibrant, clear and in focus photography that implies how delicious the food is, and how wonderful it must taste and smell, adding to an evocative website that leaves customers hungry to access your products.
The internet offers so much growth and opportunity for a business and the chance to connect with customers by showing how wonderful and memorable your products are through the creative and engaging beauty of design.
At Blue Spire we love design and we know the importance that it plays in ecommerce, which is why we combine our expertise in bespoke graphic design with technical expertise in the programming of comprehensive and easy to use ecommerce systems. As internet shopping continues to grow rapidly we want to continue to help businesses to develop the best platform to showcase and sell their products.
Call us now on 01522 837247 or email us at email@example.com
On Friday 24th July a powerful fire erupted in Lincoln City centre, UK.
As deep black smoke billowed high into the atmosphere local citizens were struck by the spectacle
The fire blazed for many hours and caused significant disruption to city centre traffic.
One of the fire’s most interesting effects was in the volume and buzz of twitter traffic reporting the incident.
Local residents, businesses and news reporters all combined to express their observations, share information and upload images of the fire from many locations.
A key power of twitter is its ability to organize disparate groups of people.
The fire reportedly began at 4.30pm at a metal recycling plant and within half an hour twitter was already awash with comments and speculation.
In the Blue Spire studio we quickly noticed a tweet about the fire from our neighbours Stonebow Media (who own local news website the Lincolnite). Their studio was facing the direction of the blaze.
Within minutes we had joined the buzz of news, sharing images we had taken of the fire and tweeting our observations alongside many other users.
Images and comments were being shared from across the city and beyond detailing traffic conditions and general opinion. Twitter feeds from local news agencies like the Lincolnite and the Lincolnshire Echo became focal points for the dissemination of information.
Some of the most interesting images came from photographers based uphill looking down at the blaze where the scale and detail of the fire could be seen in full context of the surrounding area.
Fortunately there were no safety concerns and the local fire brigade eventually subdued the fire.
While the Lincoln fire was a relatively minor event on a global scale it nevertheless highlights a growing and increasingly publicized phenomenon.
The ability of social media applications like Twitter to channel and organize information on a grassroots level, via ordinary people, means it can often react far quicker and with greater scope than more traditional news sources.
This grassroots power was recently highlighted by the so called Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East where applications like Twitter and Facebook were used to bypass state controlled media and allow the outside world to witness what was going on.
Social media has become important because it is a very useful tool for connecting loose networks of people, bringing together otherwise disparate groups and individuals to share information or support a common cause.
A Fire on Beevor Street, Lincoln: http://sfy.co/C5I
Photos of the fire: http://twitpic.com/photos/bluespiredesign
The misfortune of High Street retailers has been made abundantly clear, first battered by the recession and then frozen by some of the coldest winter temperatures on record. Austerity appears allied with the weather in contributing to plummeting sales.
But like a phoenix rising from the ashes many stores are now adapting and gaining an online presence to sell their products. E-commerce continues to boom at a tremendous pace and doesn’t look set to slow down any time soon. For many people – over half of the UK population according to e-retail watchdog IMRG – the Internet is their first choice when shopping.
Paving the way into this vibrantly diverse and ever growing culture of online global E-commerce are consumers from the US and UK. Both the US and UK have footholds on the thrones of Internet leadership and market maturity. A recent report by IMRWorld ranked these two as leaders in Internet sales.
The vast range of products now available online are also enjoying flourishing sales. The market’s successful origins were rooted in the sales of media entertainment – DVD’s and CD’s but have since opened up to everything from food to furniture. Online clothing sales have risen by over 50% in the last year.
The E-commerce market is revealing great tenacity and resilience against the current high street sales decline, even in a harsher economic climate. It is proving Internet shopping has an important part to play in the recession recovery. It’s small wonder, given the Internet opens the way to discovering new and foreign markets previously less accessible and creates flexible employment opportunities.
UK Internet spending was a total of £5.1 billion in March 2011, a rise on the previous figures of March 2010 and equivalent to £82 per person. A year-on-year increase of 20% according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, and they estimate that will continue to grow in the coming years. A strong indicator that consumers are readily moving with the developing technology and are likely to continue to do so as the online market continues to change and enrich shopping experiences. The ability to discuss, review products and communicate more directly with companies especially with the aid of social networking sites offers the potential for a higher level of customer care.
Unsurprisingly the numbers of online transactions are increasing as more households become hooked into the Internet and high speed broadband. E-commerce is as much a compliment to high street shopping, as it is the shadow looming over it. People are not shopping less, as you may be lead to believe by reports in the media, they are simply choosing more strategically where and how to spend their money.
The internet presents us with an opportunity to relate to our customers in a way never before possible. Good use of web design, graphic design, blogs and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can allow you to manage the development of online communities focused on your business. These communities are interested people who have developed a connection, curiosity and trust in your business.
The internet allows us to develop ongoing relationships with customers and provides an environment where they can interact with our businesses twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.
Essential to a successful online marketing strategy is the integration of all assets. A good website is a key factor with professional design, engaging content and regular updates. A news section can be a very good way of keeping your customers informed on a regular basis. Allowing for search engine friendly URLs will also allow your news items to extend into the public search sphere, appearing in Google and Yahoo independently and may act as sign posts to your website and business.
Regular use of websites is both good for search engine optimisation (keeping your website high in Google search) and good for your customers who feel they are up to date with your business and its services/products. Allowing them to participate in a dialogue and contact you is also very important. Contact forms and comment boxes can allow customers and interested parties to easily communicate with your business.
The prevalence of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are hard for any business to ignore these days. With hundreds of millions of people using them on a daily basis they provide a great and relatively low cost way to market your business.
A Facebook page provides a method for community engagement, as well as a portal to your website. Pages work the same way as profiles, they allow you to post links to items of interest (such as new products, special offers), make status comments and utilise discussion threads. Furthermore with use of a simple ‘Like’ button people can join your page and keep informed with the merest of ease.
Similarly the micro-blogging website Twitter provides a means of expression for the business to shout about news and interesting items to ‘followers’. It also aids brand awareness and networking as you can follow and be followed by other businesses and individuals using the site.
An important attribute of these two platforms is the ability to integrate them all together. Once this has been done twitter posts can appear automatically on your Facebook page and on your website (see Blue Spire tweets left). Blog posts, news items and products can be posted on Twitter and Facebook where they can then be shared by fans and followers with other users. This sharing of information is called Viral Marketing where ideas spread from one to another through social networks.
Businesses cannot underestimate the power and use of creating and interacting with online communities developed around them.
Social media promoters cite a number of business advantages, such as using online communities as a source of high-quality leads and a vehicle for crowd sourcing solutions to client-support problems.
Listening to the discussion of online communities that interact with your business can give you an edge in addressing their concerns and responding to their demands.
An important tool in measuring the interaction of customers with your internet marketing activities is through Web Analytics.
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for
purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage.
All visits and visitors to a website can be tracked to determine where they have come from,
what other websites/internet marketing have referred them, how many visitors and visits there
have been, what pages they are visiting, how long they are spending on the website and if they are ‘converting’ to active users by using the contact form.
Web Analytics can be an essential tool in monitoring and developing the success of a website.
Ultimately it is the integration of all these strategies together that will provide the best results. Each on their own is useful but together they provide a very comprehensive level of customer relationship management. Listening, informing and responding to enquiries allows a business to seem engaged and interested in its customers and their wants and needs. This is essential in promoting a strong business brand and for the ultimate purpose of selling your products and services.
In recent months Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken of his desire for UK business to lead the nation’s recovery from recession, putting emphasis on exports as a means to reduce the budget deficit as the private sector seeks to take some of the slack from a diminishing public sector.
Speaking ahead of the Governments forthcoming Trade White Paper the Prime Minister said: ‘We need to ensure business, especially our SMEs, have all the tools they need to flourish’.
If the Government is serious about promoting SMEs and their export potential then it needs to promote E-Commerce. The UK leads the world in E-Commerce and is a net exporter of goods and services. In a report called the Connected Kingdom search giant Google outlined how the UK ‘exports £2.80 for every £1 imported’.
While the rest of the UK economy has been suffering with recession the UK internet economy has been surging ahead. In the same report Google has predicted that the internet economy will grow by 10% in the forthcoming year.
While this is great news for traders there are still many UK businesses that are not grasping the potential of E-Commerce as a platform for trading their goods and services. If the UK wants to maintain its pre-eminent position in global e-commerce its SMEs need to be more proactive in utilising the web for sales.
Key aspects in utilising E-Commerce are the abilities to trade in multiple languages and currencies. Such facilities can easily be built into websites allowing traders to access markets they may not have considered using before.
Equally important is the ability to track usage of the site and measure the success of marketing against sales. Simple web analytics tools like Google Analytics can determine who is using your internet shop, where they are located, how they found it and what products most interest them. This data can then be correlated with your sales data so you can cross-reference the amount of visitors with the amount of buyers. This allows a business to constantly refine its sales and marketing strategy.
The powerful growth in internet spending power can be illustrated by the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index which grew 21.5% year-on-year during November with Britons spending an estimated £6.4 billion shopping online; this compares to £5.3 billion spent in November 2009.
As the internet economy surges forward it is up to UK traders to yoke this strength and sow the seeds of a strong and sustainable growth in UK trade and export.
Blue Spire Design – E-Commerce
The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index
Google: The Connected Kingdom