Thursday, 07 February 2013 08:00

America's Coolest Stores: Fine-Tune Your Online Presence

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Technology moves fast -- so get up to speed now.

Here at INSTORE, we pride ourselves on being up on technology, and we devote a fair number of pages each month to showing retailers how to use new media to their best advantage.

So it should come as no surprise that we look for great things in the "Online Presence" section of your America's Coolest Stores contest entry.

It's best to enter the full URL of any link you provide. In the final box, including each URL on a separate line with a space in between makes it easier for judges to read and click.

The section itself is pretty self-explanatory, so here are a few extra tips that may help as you fill it out:

If you're redesigning your website, link us to a preview. If your new site will be up before the contest deadline on March 15, just give us the standard URL. But if it won't be ready, chances are your designer can provide you with a preview link, so judges can see what's in the works. Just make a note in parentheses after the URL, so we know what we're seeing.

Make sure you tell us specifically what's cool. While our judges take a careful look at entrants' websites, you'll improve your chances of winning if you explicitly mention any awesome digital features. (Do you do custom design via email? Allow customers to share purchase information via social media? Post videos of proposals? Or maybe you've just received great comments about how useful your site is.) Alas, there's no box in this section to make such notes, so make a note of them now to remember to include them in a later section ("What's cool about your store?" "Provide three fun facts about your store," or "Tell us one of-of-the-box idea you've implemented this year.")

The internet moves fast, so there's still time to improve things. We love to see great reviews on Yelp, Citysearch, Google, or other sites. It's a plus when we see a store has a strong Facebook presence too. If you need some work in any of these areas, the good news is that it's not too late. There's nothing wrong with asking a few reliable clients to leave you nice reviews, and if you do that now, they'll be posted before the judging begins. Same goes for asking for Facebook likes. (If you're especially enterprising, consider setting up a laptop or tablet in the showroom, so willing folks can do it right then and there.) It's certainly not cheating -- these are things we think you ought to be doing regardless, so consider the contest a useful kick in the butt.



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Last modified on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 18:06
Josh Wimmer

Josh WImmer has been a contributor to INSTORE since 2006. He has coordinated the annual America's Coolest Stores contest for several years. The job mostly involves pestering jewelry store owners to start their contest entries, pestering jewelry store owners to finish their contest entries, and figuring out computer problems over the phone from hundreds of miles away.


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