How to find out—and fix any problems
Does your website perform well on laptops and smartphones? Potential customers finding you through a local search will bail quickly if your pages load too slowly. And these days more searches take place on mobile phones than on computers.
To help business owners get up to speed, so to speak, Google has launched a tool retailers can use to test their company website’s speed and mobile-friendliness. You’ll get scores out of 100 for three factors: mobile-friendliness, mobile speed and desktop speed. Google will also e-mail you a report to share with your webmaster to make improvements. For instance, the report might make specific suggestions about using legible font sizes and sizing tap targets appropriately or suggest you avoid plug-ins and enable compressions (plus tell you how). Test your site at: testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com.
Shopify, the e-commerce platform that many small brick-and-mortars use to sell online, has launched a new
blog (shopify.com/retail) for “face-to-face” retailers. “Consumers still crave face-to-face interactions and want to buy from an expert,” states Shopify’s announcement. On the blog, retailers can expect practical advice, trend analysis, insights into shifts in the industry and stories to inspire. Recent articles, for instance, have covered how, exactly, Nordstrom customer service works (including tips you can steal), effective store layouts and strategies to shore up foot traffic.
Sales Tax Holidays Coming Up
Get ready to promote the occasion.
This year, 17 states have announced sales tax–free shopping days on clothing—giving retailers a boost in the slower selling season. (Four states—Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont—always exempt clothing from sales tax; in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, clothing up to a certain cap is always exempt.)
For the sales-tax-holiday states, each state exempts different items. For instance, in New Mexico, ballet and tap shoes are still taxable, while leotards and tights are not. And in many states, only items under $100 are tax-free. For specifics (and up-to-date information) about your state, check taxadmin.org/sales-tax-holidays, which has links to each state’s rules.
The tax-free shopping days are a great opportunity to drive traffic to your store. Get ready by:
• reprogramming your POS system for the tax-free items
• making sure you’re stocked up on the tax-free items you think will sell best
• staffing up for those days if you expect more customers
And make it festive! Promote the days as the great shopping experience they will be for your customers. (You may want to use the extra traffic to add in other promotions, although remember: There’s no need for deep discounts that will shrink margins; eliminating sales tax has already saved your customers money.) Advertise the dates to customers via social media and e-blasts. And when the days arrive, add excitement to the event with balloons or other in-store surprises, like live music or special guests.
Thinkstock; courtesy of Shopify.com