Online sales can make or break a business – it goes without saying. But in a market which is so saturated with businesses, how would you differentiate yourselves from the rest of the the competition?
When I first started out Mirsky Mode, I’ve often struggled on how to increase my sales online. My business was new, had limited resources and manpower to simply compete with the big corporations. Through constant trial and error, I’ve learned that things can be achieved without having a large budget to back your effort. So here’s a list of the simple tips you should apply to improve our online sales:
- Make the site fast
- Think Google
- Solve Consumer’s Problems
- Accept Paypal
- Make sure people trust you
- Simplify address input
- Give a break on customer registration
- Understand ‘free’ can backfire
- Use multiple niche sites
1. Make the site fast
Adobe has said that when selling online, “improving speed can reduce abandonment rates by up to 41%”. Google also reports that a 30% increase in page load speed results in a 30% increase in business. They have also categorically stated that a speedy ecommerce website will rank better and, obviously, buyers like fast sites too.
In my experience, moving customers to faster hosting packages has seen traffic to the sites grow by up to 50%. It’s simple. If you want a successful ecommerce business it’s a false economy to cut corners on hosting costs.
Your ecommerce cart needs to be fast too. Load times can also be optimised by reducing the size of images and pages. You can use Google Analytics to see which pages need attention and make changes accordingly.
2. Think Google
When you provide a lot of information on your products on your website, this has major search engine benefits. Search engines love content and if the content is constantly evolving, they will rank you even better. SEO is a big topic, but some of the simple basics are well worth saying more than once.
When people search, they type a “keyword” or “key phrase” (collectively referred to as “keywords”) into the search box. Identifying the most popular keywords for your product range is the most important step. You can find this out by taking a free trial with Wordtracker.
You can also identify keywords that are well-used, but have fewer than average relevant pages on the web. These are your best opportunities – they represent niches where there are plenty of potential customers, but not too much competition. As a simple example that illustrates the benefit of careful keyword analysis, there are numerous pages on Google listing content and adverts for “Flowers”, but only three ads for “Bunch of roses”.
Tools such as Google Search Analyser (part of AdWords) can help identify unique search terms. Even if you’re not planning to use a pay-per-click (PPC) scheme, it’s worth signing up as it will save a lot of time. Once you know your keywords, you should make sure these appear regularly on your site. The keywords should appear in text, product names, page names and titles, and even image names.
3. Solve Consumer’s Problems
Online retailers need to keep in mind that is important to provide as much information about products.
Let’s start with posting sufficient amount of images on your website for every product. Upload photos taken from different angles to showcase every detail of the product. Pay more attention to images of your product’s main selling point.
Then, provide more detailed information about your product. For example, Mirsky Mode does not only provide the dimensions of the bags we were selling, but also the material and the amount of pockets available to give an idea to consumers the size of the handbag.
Be more articulate each time you describe your product. Having a video review of your product also helps consumers to better understand your product.
4. Accept PayPal
Some online shoppers have a balance in their PayPal account, especially if they have sold some items on eBay, and it may be burning a hole in their pockets. That’s why it’s quite common for online stores that start accepting PayPal payments to see their sales increase by around 10%. This may vary depending on the typical demographic of your buyer, but if you don’t already accept PayPal it’s well worth the minimal effort to do so.
5. Make sure people trust you
There are a number of ways of gaining that trust, and you may be able to come up with your own ideas. As a starter for ten though, here are some thoughts.
- Provide your contact details throughout the site, including a telephone number and physical address (it’s a legal requirement anyway).
- Promote confidence by responding fast to emails, and answering the telephone quickly and professionally.
- Display logos showing your membership of trade bodies such as the IMRG or FSB, and join at least one of the merchant accreditation schemes like ISIS or SafeBuy.
- A photograph of your staff or premises on your ecommerce website can also do wonders.
6. Simplify address input
Asking customers to just type in their postcode when checking out and then using software to look up the full address automatically not only streamlines the process, but also reduces the risk of cart abandonment. Because delivery addresses will be more accurate you will definitely reduce costs by having fewer failed deliveries. Your follow up mailshots will receive a similar benefit. Check out postcode lookup services from Postcode Anywhere who work on a pay-as-you-go basis.
7. Give a break on customer registration
Sometimes obvious points can be missed. We all know how annoying it is to have to remember lots of passwords and I resent being made to create another account on a site I’ll use once. In fact I won’t buy from a store that takes this tack, and I am sure I’m not alone. People don’t know if they’ll return to buy again before they complete their first order so why force them to register? Give them the option to sign up later.
8. Understand that “free” can backfire
Trying different changes to your website and measuring the results may be dull, but massive and unexpected gains can result from small changes.
In one documented case sales doubled simply by removing the discount code field from the checkout. The verdict was that buyers without discount codes felt ripped off if they didn’t have a code. In another case, sign-ups increased by 200% after “Free trial” was changed to “See plans and pricing”.
9. Use multiple niche sites
You can use multiple sites each addressing a segment of your overall market. This enables you to make the ecommerce website more relevant to your audience, can improve search engine rankings and could help to to increase your online sales.
Final Two Cent
From my honest experience, as long as your product solves problems, people will come back to you no matter how ridiculous your price is. I may sound exaggerating, but it works if you are selling to the right market. You can’t sell a Porsche to a middle income people right? It just doesn’t make any sense. Try yourself at these tips and apply them when you feel possible.
So what do you think? Do you think I missed something? Please share in the comment section if I do.