What’s a business without sales?
Unless you’re making money from donations, or you’ve already made your fortune, your business must make sales to survive. The one question that I’m sure you’re always keeping in your mind is “how can I increase my online sales?”
While there are many different things you can do, here’s my top five tips:
- Make it easy for your customers to buy from you
- Research your competitors
- Promote your business in the “right places”
- Get the customer service right
- Stay in touch with your customers
1. Make it easy for your customers to buy from you
It’s really surprising how difficult some ecommerce websites are to buy from. A recent experience shopping online had me truly amazed – they expected me to sit though a video presentation that lasted 15 minutes before I was able to hit the buy now button! I was astonished (and couldn’t help but keep watching – I was determined to see how long they’d make me wait, but even I gave up at 15 minutes!)
It’s really not rocket science. It’s simple. Think about what it’s like going into a physical store.
- Walk in
- Select products from shelf
- Add items to basket
- Go to cashier
That’s pretty much how it should be on your online shop too, excepting for some obvious differences:
- Arrive on site
- Go to shop / department
- Add items to basket
- Go to checkout
- Register / submit payment
- Receive confirmation of order placement / payment received
- Exit site
The crucial thing is that your buyer should be able to easily find the products they want. The product must have the necessary information to make them add the item to their basket, and be compelling enough to make them want to continue to the checkout, sign up / register and pay. If it’s services you’re selling, make it really easy for the customer to contact you – display your contact details in an obvious place on each page.
I’ve noticed some ecommerce websites can’t be bothered to even add a few lines of description to the products. Not only is this bad for the customer (how are you expected to decide on a product if the information is just not there?) but it is also bad for search engine bots that can’t index the product.
Of course, the other crucial aspect is that your ecommerce website works properly and can capture the correct shipping fees, customer information and process the transaction successfully.
Can you confidently say that your online shopping site makes it easy for your customers to buy online from you?
We can assist you – get in touch to find out more.
2. Research your competitors
Are you aware what your competitors are doing and how much they are charging? Are they running a special on the same products? What do they charge for shipping?
If you don’t know, chances are you’ll be losing sales to them. You might want to bury your head in the sand, or perhaps you feel that you can’t sell your products for any less anyway. Even so – awareness of what other ecommerce sites are doing is essential if you want to stay ahead of the game.
You may not be able to compete on every product, especially if your margins are tight, but positioning yourself in relation to your competitors online shop is at least better than being blissfully unaware of what’s happening around you.
If buyers know that they can get the same / similar product cheaper on another online shopping website, why will they buy it from you? Loyalty? Don’t count on it. Customer service? Hmmmm maybe….
There are several ways to research your ecommerce competitors – perhaps the best way is to pose as a customer on their shopping site and see how they do. If you’d like some help, we can assist you – get in touch to find out more.
3. Promote your business in the “right places”
Whether you have a small or large ecommerce website, it’s not enough to simply “have” an online shop. Marketing and promotion is the oil that makes the cogs turn so having a realistic, practical and successful plan of attack is important.
There are so many ways to promote your online shop and I’m not going to list them all here. Many I’m sure you’re already aware of – but do you utilise them?
- SEO – is your site Search Engine Optimised / search engine friendly? How are you ranking on Google?
- SEM Pay per click campaigns via Google / Bing and other search media.
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, You Tube – do you have meaningful, active profiles set up?
- Traditional advertising (newspapers, TV etc) – useful for specific products
- Direct Marketing
Which approach is best for your business / brand will depend largely on the nature of your products. The important thing to point out here is where NOT to market yourself! You need to get in front of your typical demographic.
Remember the basic marketing 101? People love to buy what they love to buy. Tapping into your market demographic is not that hard. Just work out what they read / where they visit / what they do, then find related mediums that provide opportunities to expose your product.
If you would like some help, get in touch to find out more.
4. Get the customer service right
Great – you made a sale on your ecommerce site. Now do the following:
- Ignore it for 3 – 10 days
- Send out the wrong item (preferably broken / not working / faulty or just don’t send it!)
- Charge their card twice
- Ignore their emails
- Never follow up
- Wait for the customer to threaten legal action / media
Obviously this approach is going to make your business very profitable !! Not.
A friend of mine recently ordered some rechargeable batteries worth $40 from a large online electronics retailer in New Zealand and had an experience similar to that described above. This is what he wrote:
Even if this was a once-off (which I don’t believe judging from the large number of negative internet reviews of them), I’m surprised at the level of incompetence and blatant disregard for customers. It’s a wonder there are businesses out there that actually survive with this kind of terrible process and service.
First they lost my order (I never received any email confirmation) and I had to wait a week before anyone could confirm the order had been received. Then I noticed my credit card had been charged twice. Finally, the product never turned up and despite half a dozen phone calls and emails demanding that someone actually help me, all I got was the brush off.
I finally spoke to the assistant to the managing director, whose name and phone number I had gleaned off some PR report I found via a google search.
This chap, who was a little surprised at my call, promised a senior manager would be involved and after 2 weeks, the issue was finally resolved. I got no apology or discount – although the duplicate amount was credited back to my card. The product finally did arrive but overall, I felt ripped off and will never shop there again or recommend them.
Needless to say, he was very unhappy (both personally and professionally) at such blatant disregard for customer service. There are so many things that went wrong it’s hard to say what went right.
Remember customer service school? A happy customer may tell 1 or 2 people, but a disgruntled customer will tell 10. Word spreads and people remember. Your online shop sales orders will dry up as people decide to shop on other, more reliable ecommerce sites.
So what can you do?
- Make sure your internal sales order processes are robust.
- Dispatch orders quickly, well packaged and ideally, use a track and trace method
- Attend to your customers like they are precious pearls
- Deal with dissatisfaction quickly to prevent bad reviews and ensure the customer is happy
If you’d like to discuss how Purple Dog can help you, get in touch to find out more.
5. Stay in touch with your customers
Customers are worth their weight in gold aren’t they? Finding a new customer is twice (or more) as hard as keeping and growing an existing customer. Regular and relevant communications is a good thing and can only lead to increased brand awareness, with further online sales. There are several methods available that Purple Dog can help you with:
- Email marketing
- Social Media
- SMS messaging
- Direct Marketing
- PR & Media articles
It does not have to be expensive – it just has to be effective.
We live in the digital age. More and more people are shopping online. If you don’t have an ecommerce website to sell your products online, you are missing out on sales – but if your online presence is poor or your customer service is lacking, you’re asking for trouble.
Investing in a decent online ecommerce solution is essential if you want your online business to grow.