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August 11th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

The Online Buying Experience

By Manny Hondroulis

No one will argue that the Internet hasn’t forever changed shopping, turning once mighty retail giants into smaller versions of themselves seeking bankruptcy protection. Government stay-at-home orders during COVID-19 were perhaps the final nail in the coffin. If consumers weren’t already purchasing online from home, they are now, thanks to travel bans and government-mandated closures of non-essential businesses. Sadly, this is forcing mom-and-pop shops along with national chains to shutter stores and liquidate.

Your Online Experience

How are we to respond and adapt? Is there an opportunity to maintain, if not increase, sales by capitalizing on changing consumer-shopping habits? Does your company’s online buying experience allow you to do just that?

At first glance it might seem impossible. Flat glass installations typically are priced on a case-by-case basis with sensitivity given toward film selection, waste, equipment needed, ease of access to glass, etc. Automotive installations are more defined than paint protection film (PPF) with stated pricing for coupes, sedans, trucks and SUVs.

How to Improve

Improving your company’s online buying experience doesn’t necessarily mean that a consumer must have the ability to “checkout,” make payment, and have you show up at their doorstep the next day with film in hand. There are many ways to improve the buying experience.

To start, consider offering your visitors a good, better, best buying option? Consumers like choices. Good/Better/Best can be defined by film type or coverage. In the window film world, that means discussing three lines of film you carry that improve in features, benefits and appearance. For PPF installations, Good /Better/Best can equate to lower hood and bumper, full front-end and entire vehicle wrap.

Next, consider offering users a way to see various products and coverage amounts installed. A picture of a home, office, or car that shows window film installed helps to give the consumer an idea of what the end result will look like.

Consider Going Farther

The two aforementioned ideas fall short of a full-blown store. If you believe you can adapt your business model to work within the framework that an online store requires, creating one is somewhat easy as there are multiple canned ecommerce solutions that require little or no programming experience. These solutions handle all aspects of the sales process. Popular solutions include WooCommerce, Shopify and Zen Cart. Such solutions are often integrated with the company that hosts your website or with open source content management systems like WordPress.

Before you create your store, give consideration to what products and services you are going to sell and what payment options you will accept. You will also need to think about your pricing structure.

Online commerce is not reserved for the big titans of the Internet so there is no reason why our service industry can’t embrace it—especially now. If you don’t embrace it, perhaps your local competition will. And that could mean the difference between booking a sale and not booking a sale.

Manny Hondroulis is the vice president of Energy Distribution Products in Baltimore.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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