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Your Online Store and the importance of "keeping up appearances"

by Tim Rimington | October 26, 2010

As a web design business we receive a steady flow of enquiries from proprietors wanting to upgrade their existing online store so that they provide online shoppers with a modern shopping experience, to name just one of many reasons for upgrading. What amazes me though is the number of online stores we come across that are still residing on e-commerce platforms built as far back as the early 2000s (and trust me on this one, there's no shortage of these stores and websites - they stick out like sore thumbs). So if it ain't broke then why fix it? Why outlay money if your e-store is readily pulling in orders week after week and generating a steady income? Mmm, let's ponder this for a moment...

Years back I had a job that took me to small country towns visiting small retailers (resellers). Some of the stores I walked into looked okay; many didn't. After a few years I noticed an obvious pattern. The stores that constantly updated their appearance, product range and so on were generally the stores that enjoyed success. Those that allowed paint to peel and dust to gather were the stores that generally reported a drop-off in business and eventually went bust. Now, many factors were often at play such as the state of the local economy but in all seriousness the stores that "kept up appearances" were the stores that often weathered the storm.

Another factor in the demise of some of those stores was the opening of a similar store close by. A new store with a hungry owner determined to succeed and prepared to "fill the gap" left wide open by the previous store. That gap took on many forms; old stock, poor service, tardy shop front, peeling paint, indifferent get the picture. Small country towns react differently to a new store and its owners (for reasons that aren't particluarly relevant to today's discussion), but suffice to say I know of many examples where this occured and the older store with the indifferent owner eventually went under.

So back to online stores. If it ain't broke then why fix it? Because if you insist on retaining an old online store there's someone else just around the corner getting ready to launch a brand new one in competition to you. A store that offers a better buying experience and leaves you and your store looking uninterested, old and stale; a store optimised for Google and ticking all the latest online marketing boxes. Now when you consider that an online store upgrade (be it design or functionality) can cost you as little as a thousand bucks (sometimes even less), why risk your business and its growth for so little?

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