CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
The new web site for the regional retailer improves navigation and design.
Less than a year and a half after getting into e-commerce, Shopko Stores Operating Co. overhauled Shopko.com and relaunched the site Feb. 18. The newly designed site improves navigation, the overall design aesthetic and is more optimized for search engines to crawl its content than was the prior site, says Mike Sidders, Shopko vice president of e-commerce, who joined the company in September.
The regional discount retailer recognizes it came very late to e-commerce, but says an educational campaign is underway to introduce Shopko store shoppers to Shopko.com and that the company expects the new site design will spur online sales. Shopko operates 143 mass-merchandise stores in 13 states and had more than $2 billion in sales last year. Sidders declined to reveal how much of the retailer’s sales came through the web.
“E-commerce is an opportunity that the company sees and wants to take advantage of,” Sidders says, adding that e-commerce is now one of the company’s top initiatives. Shopko came late to e-commerce because the company’s prior leadership made the decision to stay out of it, he says.
Sidders says the goal of the new Shopko.com design is to link the experience shoppers have in-store with the online experience. To do so, the company improved navigation so consumers can quickly find or jump among the areas they want to shop. Two horizontal navigation bars featuring main selling categories such as optical, pharmacy and shoes, for example, appear on all pages; previously, consumers had to backtrack to the home page to navigate to different departments. The home page also features rotating images that highlight sales and featured items. It also features a scrolling horizontal bar with links to some of the more popular brands it carries. “This is a whole remake of our look and feel,” Sidders says. The new site was largely designed in-house with the help of the retailer’s existing e-commerce platform provider, SpeedFC.
The company is also being more careful about the images and text it uses on the site. Sidders says the new site makes better use of keywords in product descriptions, which he expects will improve Shopko’s search engine rankings. Consumers also can zoom in on images on product pages to get a better look at products. Shopko.com features more than 10,000 SKUs. That is fewer than in a Shopko retail store, but Sidders says plans are underway to significantly expand the online selection by this fall. “We’re working to expand our online offerings by enabling partners to drop-ship on our behalf,” he says.
Sidders says that while the site is not optimized for mobile, the move of online shoppers to mobile devices did influence design choices for the new site. He says about 5% of all Shopko.com traffic comes through mobile and that a portion of that traffic does convert through mobile. He says the company tested how the new site rendered on tablets and the iPhone in particular, because analytics revealed that the iPhone is the mobile device most used by customers visiting Shopko.com. Sidders says that Shopko eventually will launch a mobile site, but not this year.
The hardest part of the relaunch, Sidders says, may just be informing consumers that they can indeed buy products at Shopko.com. “For a decade, we educated consumers that we have a web site and that they can find a store locator and an electronic iteration of our sales insert there, but you can’t shop,” he says. “Now we have to say come shop us, we have a great experience for you.”
He says the company is putting up signs in its stores to promote the new web site and that one-eighth of the back page of each print circular will encourage customers to come to Shopko.com. The company is also using its social media presence on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to promote shopping on Shopko.com.