What Can a Grocery Store Teach Us About Web Design and Internet Marketing? Part 1

For a newbie venturing into the online world a grocery store offers many lessons in web design, layout and structure. The parallels between your site and a grocery store are very similar and clear. Learn these lessons and you will have a huge head start and a solid mindset for building an online business.

PART 1 – LAYOUT

The most apparent thing you will notice in any grocery store is the layout. Below you will see a basic floor plan of any grocery store. Most grocery stores follow the same pattern and it is not by accident. Lets take a further look.

Grocery-layout

The layout of a grocery store has one purpose: “To guide you through the entire store so that you end up in the check out line”. There is no difference between the layout of a grocery store and the layout of your site. Websites have one purpose and that is to sell. Your website needs to have that same purpose too.

SLOW THEM DOWN WITH FRESH CONTENT

In almost all grocery stores you will start off in a produce section. This is for 2 reasons.

1. Because these items are the most perishable, they want you to stock up on them as soon as you arrive. This helps keep the items fresher.

2. Number 2 is even more important. THIS LAYOUT SLOWS YOU DOWN. You have to zig and zag. Once you think you have found a clear path another obstacle or customer will get in your way. The longer you are in a store, the more money you are likely to spend.

Why are understanding these two principles so important for your own online business?

Because you want to have the freshest content available to your audience. It does not necessarily have to be the best content available, but you want to keep it new and consistently put it out there. Also, good content slows down your visitors and keeps them on the page. Most visitors get click happy and just start clicking one link after another. Give them something to stop and think about. Give them relevant content that keeps them on the page.

Slow them down, get their attention and then hit them with a call to action. Tell them exactly what you want them to do. Tell them about a product or insert an image or use any means necessary to get them to do exactly what you want them to do. This would be similar to a sale sign or an employee of the produce department recommending a particular fruit because it is a new crop and in season.

STEERING THEM IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Aisle-layout A successful layout in a grocery store gets you to follow a particular sales path. You might not have even been aware of it in the past, but like the produce section there are all kids of items placed in your way. Not just to get your attention of a particular sale, but to guide you in a certain direction. Layouts get you commit to one direction without you even thinking about it. Look at the bottoms on aisles between 1 and 2 and also between 3 and 4. These little displays help steer you down the right aisles. The goal of these are to make sure you go through every aisle.

Your website needs to do the same exact thing. If your purpose is to make sales, everything you do needs to lead that customer to your online shopping cart. If your purpose is to make new contacts and generate leads, then everything you do on your site needs to drive that potential customer to a sign up form. Your website needs to be laid out in a way that the call to action that you want the customer to take is the most apparent part of your page

ONE WAY IN….ONE WAY OUT!

Grocery stores have one advantage huge advantage over your website. There is ONLY one way in and one way out. There are 1000′s of ways people can find your website. Search engines, Directories, Video Sites, Social Networking Sites, Direct URL, Forums, Blogs, Random Sites, and places you would never expect are all ways people can find your website. There are 1000′s of entryways into your website.

What about Exits? Obviously, the first exit is when they use the Back Button. No one wants that. That is just a waste of a visit. But what most of you don’t realize or track, are how many people are actually doing just that? Do you know how many people look at one page and then exit? If not, you should. And you should be testing and improving that everyday. Tragically, the other exits that exist on your site are ones that you create. Whether it is a link to a friends site, a site that my be beneficial, your Facebook, your MySpace, or your Twitter account they are all links to sites outside of your website.

Once they leave they are gone and you opened the door for them to leave! You didn’t utilize their visit. No sale was made, no information was captured. They already have accounts on those video pages and social network pages. Are you going to keep your fingers crossed and hope that everyone you send away from your site is going to be your friend on a social network site?

Remember, the purpose of your website is to make sales. The purpose is not to send them to your Facebook account. You want to use those sites to drive traffic to your website, not that other way around. So close those doors and drive the traffic to where you want them to go!