AFNIC recently published a study launched in 2017, the aim of which was to better understand the practices on the web (sites, blogs, social networks) of companies, and particularly traders and craftspeople. The results of this study are final. 94% of respondents consider their presence on the internet essential or useful for their activity. However, many traders and artisans still have a limited digital presence. Here are 5 tips to take advantage of digital when you are a trader or craftsman...
# 1 – Ensure local visibility
The importance of being visible locally
Today, your customers and prospects are looking for “local”, and the latest Google studies in the United States show it:
- + 900% of searches containing the term “around me” (near me in English);
- + 500% of searches containing the term “around me” and a purchase intention;
- 28% of these searches result in a purchase.
These data date from 2015 to 2017 but everything suggests that the trend continues.
England also sees an increase in this kind of research. Here is for example the evolution of queries “around me” over the last 5 years (Source Google Trends).
Customers are looking local, and mostly looking to buy local.
A great opportunity for traders and artisans, which it would be a shame to miss out on!
Google My Business
Start by creating a Google My Business (GMB) listing. Registration is free, and it’s a good place to start hoping to appear in your customers’ local searches.
Be careful when filling, and observe the following good practices:
- Add your contact information (phone, address, website);
- Work on the description of your activity and the category;
- Be specific about your opening hours;
- Add quality photos (or even videos);
- Respond to reviews and messages from your customers.
These good practices are the foundation of a good Google My Business listing.
If you want to go further, know that you can use more advanced features (booking button, publications, automatic messaging, etc.).
Continue your local SEO strategy by considering registering in directories like Yelp, Hoodspot or the Yellow Pages. Some are paid, others free.
Depending on your area of activity, there are also specialized directories (restaurants, bars, hair salons, beauty salons, etc.).
# 2 – Use social networks to create a close relationship with your customers
As everyone knows, social networks have become an essential means of communication. Everyone from the biggest brands to individual companies!
Real estate agencies, ready-to-wear, bakeries, restaurants or florists … the vast majority of local shops and services still use social networks to establish a direct relationship with their customers and share their offer.
However, as a craftsman or a trader, there are many advantages to be gained from a presence on social networks, provided you spend the time there.
Which social networks to start with?
The networks that work best today for artisans and traders are Facebook and Instagram. Pinterest may be an original visual alternative, but rather in a second step (and especially if you have the time…).
Use Facebook to communicate on specific events (promotions, new offer, holidays, etc.). Take advantage of Instagram to highlight products with beautiful photos and reach the most connected.
We mistakenly think that Instagram is reserved for restaurateurs, but in our day before we met many other types of businesses and services that used Instagram wisely. Some examples :
Why use social networks when you are a trader or craftsman?
If this communication may seem incidental, your customers will, on the contrary, be very attached to it. They will hear from you regularly and feel close to you. You may not see them every day in your store, but they will see you evolve daily!
Admittedly, managing a Facebook page or an Instagram account can take a little time, especially when it is set up. After the launch, the management is simpler, it is above all a matter of being regular in its publications.
With a smartphone, it’s very easy to take a few photos of a new product and post them.
The quality of the content posted, the frequency as well as an original editorial line will be the keys to a growing visibility and will allow to retain a large number of followers.
Your image will be that of an accessible and friendly company through social networks. Your customers will feel like they know you better, understand you better and get involved. Word of mouth, essential for traders and artisans, can thus be multiplied.
Also take advantage of social networks to collect the opinions of your customers. These signals are increasingly used by Internet users who are looking for online businesses or artisans. Take the time to read them and respond to them to create a relationship of trust with your future customers.
# 3 – Create your own website
If social networks are a good start, we should not overlook a more traditional presence on the web.
A site in your image sets the tone of your activity, by combining texts, photos, videos, or any other relevant content. You can explain your approaches, your innovations, your specialties, and make customers want to contact you or come to the store.
It is also a good way to list all of your services or products exhaustively. The content of your site can be much more complete than social networks and give precise information.
- For an artisan, a website will show his know-how, his techniques, his achievements;
- For a trader, this showcase will give him the opportunity to showcase his products and services.
# 4 – Consider selling online, on your site or on marketplaces
Having a website is not an end in itself for a trader or craftsman. The purpose of a site is not only to showcase and show your opening hours and contact details.
With a well-designed website, the content of which is of good quality, you can especially hope to find new customers, and retain current customers.
Depending on your time and budget, you can therefore choose to create an e-commerce section to sell your products directly online. This will require precise management of your stocks, but also the organization of product shipping and possibly after-sales service. For artisans, you can consider an online quote form or at least a contact form.
Then, you can consider selling via existing marketplaces, such as Amazon, ManoMano … Your products will be visible to a large number of prospects, and you will not have to manage deliveries. You will still need to manage the availability of your products and your stock regularly.
Craftsmen can turn to platforms for connecting customers and artisans (Hopfab for example).
Finally, other possibilities are available to you to develop your sales via the Internet (without necessarily selling directly online).
We are thinking of the different web-to-store strategies, the objective of which is to use digital technology to attract traffic to your physical point of sale.
- For local services (beauty salons, treatments, massage, hairdressing salons, etc.), consider an online appointment booking module;
- If you are a merchant, consider setting up promotions (SMS, email) to attract your customers to the store, or consider a “click and collect” solution (the customer books or buys online and picks up his product in your shop).
# 5 – Launch or perpetuate your activity using existing tools and services
Save time with new digital services
For many traders and artisans, developing and maintaining a web presence can be too much work.
In this case, new services exist to facilitate this visibility.
This is the case, for example, of the petitcommerces.fr site. This platform offers local merchants to create and manage a web page presenting their activity and their products. Halfway between the directory and the social network, the platform allows a regularly updated online presence, with original content to keep the page and your social networks alive.
To build customer loyalty, you can also turn to a site like leshabitues.fr. This original application allows your customers to create an online account and pre-pay for their purchases. They no longer need to have change or use their bank card: you directly debit their account online with each purchase. In exchange, you “get used to it” by regularly offering exclusive offers.
Today there are many startups offering this kind of service. From website creation to making appointments, to managing your social networks or even online advertising.
It’s up to you to make your choice, depending on the budget you have to devote to it.
Get started or grow with crowdfunding
We have spoken at length about the importance of the presence on the internet, and it seems important to us to end with a major ally that traders and artisans do not necessarily think of: crowdfunding.
In the form of a donation (with or without consideration), crowdfunding is a good way for businesses to finance themselves.
It is also the means to federate a community of clients (or future clients).
Launching new products or services, or buying equipment thanks to individuals is now allowed thanks to crowdfunding platforms, so why not take advantage of it.
The web now seems essential for traders and artisans.
A presence on the web, whatever its nature, provides local businesses with greater visibility. Open a business, finance its equipment, build customer loyalty, bring them to the store, let them know about your know-how … For each of your needs, solutions exist!