After you’ve polished your shelves and shined your display cases, you feel like your store looks beautiful. All the products were hand-selected by you — placed perfectly into your store. You can feel that same sense of contentment when you develop your Lynchburg eStore.
Tips for Your Lynchburg eStore
In your Lynchburg eStore, you can recreate the feeling of your physical location by taking a few key factors into consideration.
Lynchburg’s demographics vary greatly across a very small area. If you include the surrounding towns like Forest, Madison Heights, AltaVista, and Amherst you can actually pull a large, local audience for your products. Below are a few facets to consider as you define your audience.
The average age in Lynchburg is actually quite young at 28 years old. Additionally, there are a lot of young families in the area. Also, there are certain neighborhoods that are grouped much older (retirement communities) or much younger (students on college campuses). For comparison, the average age in Roanoke is 38 years old.
Similar to age, Lynchburg’s income levels vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Since housing in the area is affordable, most people make a lower wage than the U.S. average. If you look at the map of median household income, you can see which zip codes are more likely to afford your products.
Downtown Lynchburg dwellers live in smaller housing and enjoy a walking community. They can frequent storefronts, explore pop-up shops, and visit outdoor festivals. Similarly, students on the many college campuses experience a contained urban-style life. Outside of these two areas, most people have to drive to shop. There is only one small mall, some farmer’s markets, and a few shopping centers. Most of the time, shops are clustered together by big box stores. You can map these out on the major highways and note the parking patterns.
As you define your audience, think through their daily habits and patterns. You need to find seamless ways to blend your eStore’s presence with their lifestyle and align with their values.
Obviously, you can start by thinking about the attributes of your in-store customers. Then, you can expand your thinking to include others that may share the same attributes but, don’t actually visit your store in person.
Once you’ve chosen your audience, you can build a design that appeals to their tastes. This includes key decisions, such as:
Typically, I ask my clients to think about the feeling that their store evokes. What adjectives do they use?
After we review that list, I look for details in their products and storefront that can translate into the design like textures, materials, and tones. All of these can combine to bring your website’s design to life.
I encourage my clients to write as they talk for the first draft of any website copy. Most of the time, this helps us capture their voice. Then, I simply clean it up for the average reader — adding clarity and correcting any grammatical issues.
In a place like Central VA, this helps capture authenticity. Your prospective customers can hear you speaking through your words on the page.
I prefer to mix clean, white-background photos with environmental, lifestyle shots. If you capture some in your store, it helps bring the interior onto your website’s product pages. The details like your shelving and display materials will shine through behind the products.
That helps people feel the vibe of your space, even if they can’t visit your store.
Design your Perfect Homepage
You can design the perfect homepage for your store when you keep your customer in mind. Think about the information they’ll need and where they expect to find it.
Header | Social Links | Contact Information | Cart
To start, you’ll need to create a header that contains your core information. This includes your logo, social links, contact information, cart, and main navigation. Ideally, you’ll follow a format that matches the most common eStore layouts.
Obviously, that’s a lot of information in a small area. Below are some of my favorite ways to create a hierarchy between these elements.
First, you’ll want your logo to be the most prominent element. Then, you want an easy-to-understand navigation with key pages like “Shop” toward the beginning.
Most eStores put the cart in the upper-righthand corner. I advise my clients to do the same because it’s where customers are trained to look first.
Finally, your people expect to find your contact information and social media in this area. Sometimes, I’ll drop these down to the footer if we find the site’s users prefer it at the bottom (or if it compromises the design).
Hero | Call-to-Action
Right below the header, you’ll find the hero. Many pre-built website themes simply use a full-width image with text on top. Whenever I build a custom website, I guide my clients to add a call-to-action message with a button right in this area. Ideally, this pushes them straight into the shop.
This is more for return website visitors or current in-store customers than new users. First, it allows you to display a seasonal image (like a new collection) with a message about the products you’re trying to push. This makes your homepage feel fresh with minimal website maintenance. You just need to update the hero.
Second, it encourages them to dive right back into shopping. If they left the site for some reason, this encourages them to go back to their purchase activities.
Although full-width images are popular, I often find that my clients are looking for mobile-friendly options that allow for different image orientations (or smaller files sizes). Often, this is because of restrictions with their current available media. For example, their favorite image may not have been taken for full-width or they may not want to cover their image in text. You can see one example at the top of the graphic above.
Also, some of my clients don’t have the budget to take quality, high-resolution photos. They’re making do with images that they snapped on a phone. You can see an example of how I handled this situation on the CWI Craft Studio USA website. In that case, the client’s ministry was overseas and it wasn’t practical to pay for a new photoshoot to capture full-width images before site launch.
There is always a solid, mobile-responsive option for hero images if you think creatively about the design.
Below the hero, I recommend putting feature boxes. Often these highlight important aspects of your sales process. They can be a sale that is going on or another store announcement. Most of the time, my clients have certain offers they want to highlight like a special coupon or a special brand.
This area is another place you can set a visual tone for your shop. The photos can be creative, storytelling elements that reveal the personality of your store.
Collection | Catalog | Products
Below the feature boxes, I recommend highlighting your product catalog. Most pre-built eStore themes place this right below the hero. Often, they do several rows of products like “Most popular” and “Best Sellers”. However, I recommend putting this a little lower on the page to enhance the flow of information.
With this approach, information flows from general to specific from your hero to your feature boxes to your product catalog.
Additionally, I like to show categories of goods or the brands you carry versus actual products (unless you have a specific, well-known product to highlight). Again, this organizes information from broad to general. It encourages your customer through an organized path to a sale.
Underneath the products, I like to place the “About” section. Many eStore themes skip this section altogether. I like to add it in the middle of the page for several reasons. First, it’s a chance to get some of the story behind your shop onto the homepage. This is a chance to introduce yourself to new customers if they are reading through the homepage before shopping. Second, it’s a chance to add text that will optimize your homepage for search. Ideally, this will be at least 300 words and contain key phrases like your store’s name, the location, and the type of products you offer.
Since it’s a preview of your actual “About” page, you can also include a link or button with the text.
Blog | Testimonials
Underneath the “About Section” I place the ancillary information. Most of the time, this includes the blog and testimonials. This information is less important than the “Shop” page links. So, it does well in the lower half of your website.
Often, I place these side-by-side to take up less vertical space. Both sections link to inner pages of your website. So, they just need to contain a preview of the latest update.
Call to Action
Right above the footer, I like to place a call-to-action section that highlights a customer loyalty program. For most stores, this is a sign-up that links with their point-of-sale system (in-store and online). If you don’t have a customer loyalty program, you can do a simple “Coupons” or “Deals” newsletter signup instead. Either way, this encourages your customers to submit their contact information in exchange for savings.
Banners right above the footer work well because that’s where users scroll to find details like contact information or “Shipping + Returns” policies. It’s a similar state of mind for signing up for savings.
Footer | Quicklinks | Social Links
For eStores, the footer communicates important information. People are trained to look here for contact information, social media links, and key pages like “Shipping + Returns”. With all those details, I keep the area as clean and simple as possible. You don’t want to bog down their information search with extraneous widgets.
From top to bottom, you can bring these elements together to create the perfect homepage for your eStore.
Build Strong Product Listings
Another key page for eStores (in contrast to other websites) are the product listings. This is a highly valuable area for SEO. In fact, a single product listing may outrank other pages on your website.
- Main Image (Pinnable Image): This should be an environmental, model, or flat lay shot. Think of it as something creative that someone would want to pin to Pinterest or share on social media. Because of the vital connection between Pinterest and shopping behavior, I encourage people to size this image properly for that platform.
- Product Angles: These are the typical lightbox images on a neutral background that show the product from all angles.
- Environmental Images: Whenever possible, I like to add additional environmental images into the product gallery (after the product angles). These can be with models, in a setting, or flat-lay set up. These encourage the customer to visualize how they will use the product.
- Price: The price should be clear and easy to find. Any variations should automatically adjust.
- Category: Linking back to the product category can help customers find similar items. Also, many product management systems allow linking items for upselling and cross-selling.
- Short Description or Excerpt: The short description should go right underneath the product name. It’s a simple, easy-to-read description of the product.
- Long Description: This area expands on the story of the product. It should also include key information, such as:
- Special features
- Maker information
- Coupon Codes: If you have a coupon code or sale on the product, display it prominently on the product pages as applicable.
- Focus Keyword: Find ways to work your focus keyword for the page into the description. This consistency will help the page rank higher for that term on search.
Ideas for Your Lynchburg Estore
- Choose a graphic element to repeat throughout your website. Ideally, this will be related to your brand and echoed throughout your shop. For example, if your store’s logo has a flower, use variations on this in separators and highlights throughout the theme.
- Link your website and social media accounts visually, by using the same elements in your profiles/covers and your website’s hero.
- Drop sections on mobile that sit on the lower half of your homepage. Most of the time, people don’t scroll as far on mobile devices unless they’re committed to reading (like in an article). You can simplify your homepage on mobile by dropping less important sections like the blog feed and testimonials.
- Use real, local images to emphasize your store’s location. Whenever possible, use images taken in your store and the surrounding area. This will help people see the physical location of your store and automatically associate you with the local area.
Hopefully, you sell your products from a website that you absolutely love. It should represent your brand — just like your brick-and-mortar location. A great website design can bring all those elements together from photos of your space to product descriptions.