When it comes to online selling of guns, weapons, services, merchandise or accessories we will not bore you with the details of the obvious, such as you must have a solid online ecommerce presence and proper licensing. We assume you already know these things. If not feel free to ask.
The goal of this article is to take you to the next step in ecommerce success and describe what sets a business apart and what drives purchases through their online store.
The highest determination of what will quantify success vs. failure for online gun and weapon sales will be the user experience while they are in your ecommerce shopping platform. So, what is the customer looking for when they go to a gun, knife or other related website? It basically comes down to four primary elements.
Ease Of Use
Let us first dive into ease of use, as it is the largest of the four topics being discussed.
Ease of use for online weapon sales can be broken down into four sub-categories:
• Mobile Friendly
• Search Functionality
• FFL Locator At Checkout
In today’s world if a website wants to be successful it simply must be mobile friendly. This means that your site is going to look nice on mobile devices such as cell phones the same as it does on full screens such as desktops and laptops.
Many people do not understand that being accessible online is NOT the same as being mobile friendly. Thanks to technology virtually all platforms can show even the worst websites online. If there is a need to toggle back and forth across the screen or zoom in for basic elements such as navigation or to read text this means the website is NOT being mobile friendly. A good mobile friendly website and ecommerce platform will adjust to meet the screen size of the user so there is no need to toggle the screen or use the zoom for basic site functionality.
Years of experience helping gun and weapon stores sell online and through in-depth statistical tracking of user behavior we have personally estimated that over 60% of online gun sales now are conducted through the use of a mobile device. It is soon expected to be closer to the 80%. Having a mobile friendly website is critical for any weapons related site that desires to make online a key part of their business revenue model.
From a user perspective being mobile friendly is critical to most. This is also true if one wishes to seek positive ranks in search engines like Google. In fact, as of July 1, 2019 Google adopted the “mobile-first” standard as their default for positive search engine rankings. (Google Source)
For the serious online retailer careful consideration should be given to both desktop and mobile presentation. It is not wise to focus on one at the cost of the other. Why focus on 60% of the pie or 40% of the pie? Success in the weapons industry online means focusing on 100% of the pie. At Weapons Commerce this is our focus as we provide a great user experience throughout. We constantly strive to meet the needs of today’s modern mobile experience for both admin and end user.
Next up in terms of importance, for the best user experience, is a well-developed navigation structure. Navigation should be intuitive. This sounds like common sense, but you would be amazed at the various navigation schemes we have seen people come up with. While an occasional dropdown to a sub-category may be necessary dropdowns on top of dropdowns on top of dropdowns is almost always a bad idea. The goal of a well-developed navigation should be to get the user to where they need to go, in as few clicks as possible. At Weapons Commerce we invested years into coming up with the most logical menu arrangements that have proven themselves through millions of online user tests. With the Weapons Commerce ecommerce platform this menu system is included automatically in the base product. Administrators can certainly choose to go a different route as their navigation structure and specific needs may differ. Along the way, our pre-defined structure will help best define one's own unique requirements with vast examples of goby’s to help along the way.
While a solid navigation structure will be the best way for a user to narrow their search, in many cases a user may already have a very specific idea of what they are looking for. They may know the model, brand, SKU or even the UPC code. This is where a robust internal search feature is ESSENTIAL. Through the Weapons Commerce platform your users will be able to search any number of variables no matter how numerous or obscure they are. As long as products are entered correctly finding those products is as simple as the user entering the data in the search box. Once the search is enacted the user will receive a comprehensive list of all items that meet their search requirements.
Last but not least for gun related weapon sites having an FFL locator, at checkout, is CRITICAL. Probably the most frustrating things to an online gun shopper (especially the first timer) is getting to check-out and being asked to enter their FFL information. Let’s be honest. Most have no idea what FFL even means. Using industry specific jargon for newbie online buyers is almost a sure way to lose their interest and business. Through the Weapons Commerce platform we bypass this hang-up and ultimate dropout from the shopping cart. Through our intuitive system if a buyer chooses a firearm at checkout, they are intelligently provided a map with instructions to pick a local gun store for delivery. Nothing confusing, no need to hunt down information they do not know. Everything is provided right there for the customer giving them the ability to make a quick selection and receive a confirmation at time of sale with instructions on where they can pick up their new purchase.
Are you an FFL? Are you on our cleanlist? If you are an FFL and you wish to be verified on our FFL mapping OR if you have an FFL license but wish to have your details hidden PLEASE LET US KNOW. To see if you are included you can check out our Gun Demo Site here. Simply go through the gun buying process and select the cash option to complete the process. On the way you will either see your listing or not. If it is not there PLEASE LET US KNOW so we can get it verified and included. If it IS there but you wish your details hidden PLEASE LET US KNOW so we can remove them from public view.
The time of the “hard sell” online is over. In most cases people visiting an ecommerce site for purchase already have an idea of what they want. No one likes a hard sell. Think of the daily blasts of emails you get from pushy online retailers that frustrate you to the point of trashing their email or even unsubscribing from their content? Don’t be them!
What do online patrons really want? Information! Most site visitors will be coming with an idea already of the products they are interested in. A wise online store will focus not on hard selling them but instead providing them the reasons why such a purchase is good for them, will best fit their needs, and why as a retailer they should buy from you. Making sure to include the unique and more obscure information by expanding on the basics descriptions and media provided by the brand itself, is also a fantastic way to vastly improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
Providing good, solid, accurate information itself is a soft sell that builds trust with an online audience. In today’s competitive environment having a reputation as a trustworthy and informative resource will set your business apart and will solidly work to your favor at time of purchase decision.
Similar to having good information it is also critical that the information you present to online customers is accurate. The only thing more frustrating than not having information available is when the information that is available is inaccurate. Not only does bad information ruin future sales prospects it also leads to unnecessary returns and claims with financial processors causing significant draws to both your bottom line and reputation in retail and ecommerce.
It is true that brick and mortar stores have been able to get away with extravagant pricing models. If you are under the assumption the same is true for online ecommerce sales, you are greatly mistaken. Brick and mortar can take advantage of the “got to have it now” and “convenience” mentalities that online shoppers do not share. Getting it “now” is not an option for the online user so selling on convenience does not work. Unless you have a unique product that no one else carries the only way to find true reliable success in online sales is to be fair. Being fair does not mean always being the lowest and it does not mean trying to get away with the same type "pandemics and politics" style pricing that goes on to frequently in street level store fronts. Online shopping is easy and with very little inconvenience your online store patron can quickly hit their favorite search engine and find the exact same products elsewhere.
The more people view you as honest, helpful, and fair the less price will be a significant factor in their decision process. Brand loyalist are the best customers and create the greatest Customer Lifetime Value (CLV/CLTV). (Calculation)
When reviewing pricing online shoppers consider all the variables including price, taxes, shipping fees and other incentives. They consider their loyalties, brand allegiances, and best resources. Craft your pricing policy carefully when it comes to online sales. Don’t get greedy and show your customers you care about them and their financial well-being; and they will reward you.
By doing these things you will gain customers, increase return rates, and develop a strong brand identity.
Are We Right For You? We Think So.
Ease of use!