There’s no doubt that the internet can present huge opportunities for retailers big and small. While that’s great for customers who enjoy being spoilt for choice when they shop online, for small, independent retailers, it can be hard to stand out in a saturated market. When competition is high and consumers already have their ‘go-to’ brands and websites, engaging customers and encouraging sales can be challenging.

The good news for smaller retailers is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to stand out in the competitive online retail marketplace. With consumers increasingly using digital channels to shop and interact with their favourite brands, your online business could benefit from targeting your audience on the channels they use most. Here are a few digital strategies to help provide an improved online experience for your customer.

Create a professional-looking website

When a potential customer has heard of your business through recommendations or word of mouth, it’s likely that they might want to jump online to check you out for themselves. So, when first impressions really count, you should make sure their experience visiting your website is a positive one. If you don’t impress them immediately, there’s a risk they may not return. A polished and professional website, showcasing what you do, glowing testimonials, contact details, opening hours and having an online store, can help not only grab their attention, but make it easier for them to engage with your business. Don’t worry if you’re not tech-savvy, though, setting up a professional website that acts as your virtual shop floor can be quicker and more cost-effective than you might realise. Tools such as GoDaddy Websites + Marketing, for example, provide thousands of eye-catching templates so you can create a memorable website that really does your business justice.

Make your website mobile friendly

More than a quarter (26%) of Australian consumers make purchases via their smartphones, so it’s worth optimising your website for mobile, from the start. This means ensuring that your entire website works just as effectively, and looks just as good, on a mobile as it does on a computer. For instance, if your images are high resolution, consider compressing them so pages load faster. If you have to zoom in to read the text, try using a bigger font, or be more succinct with your words. Don’t try to do too much: proritise crucial information such as an ‘about us’ page, your contact details and your online store. Many of the most effective mobile websites are successful because they don’t overwhelm customers; they’re sleek, effective and simple to use.

Get social

Considering 74% of Australians access social media networks from their smartphone, it can be an extremely useful marketing tool to engage customers, on social media platforms, if utilised effectively. To encourage your customers to engage with likes and comments to boost that digital word of mouth, ensure the content you post is attention-grabbing. Whether that be stunning photos of your new range via Instagram, or promotions around key dates like Easter through Facebook, sharing eye-catching and relevant posts can help your brand stay top-of-mind and relevant to your customers, and also remind your customers why they choose your store.

To busy owners of small, independent retail stores, competing with larger, established players can seem like a daunting prospect. Yet, having an online presence for your business can help you be more visible to more potential customers, not only around the high street but around the world.

Jill Schoolenberg is Regional President for Australia, Canada and Latin America at GoDaddy.