Building and running a successful e-commerce store is hard work.
Not only do you have to manage the day to day tasks such as stock control and customer service, but you also need to think about how best to improve and grow your store.
To help you out a bit I’ve devised a list of the best nineteen ways to help improve sales.
#1 Remove Checkout Registration
Any obstacle that stops your customers from getting their card out and paying should of course be removed. It’s surprising then how many e-commerce sites still make people register before they can make a purchase.
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Stopping asking for registration before or at checkout is an excellent way to help improve sales and reduce abandoned carts.
Physical products sales still need a shipping address of course, but by removing the registration you can at least cut down on the amount of information needed before purchase.
That being said, you will still want the customer to register, in order to learn more about them, their shopping habits and for marketing purposes.
There are two options here:
1) Put a call to action on the thank you page inviting users to register
2) Email them after the purchase asking them to register
Either way can work, but sweetening the deal can help too – you can tell people how registration can help speed up future purchases or even by offering a discount on future purchases.
#2 No Dead Ends
Keep your customers focused on shopping, not navigating your site!
Your 404 page and search result page should both contain ways to get them back to shopping, with either popular or related product links or obvious call to actions to take them back to the main page.
Your cart is also a possible dead end and should also contain cross-sells and a “continue shopping” button, to encourage further browsing.
Talking of cross-sells, you should implement these in as many places as possible, from the individual sales pages to the cart itself.
Supermarkets are excellent at cross-sells: rarely do you see a check out that doesn’t have at least on shelf of candy and other knick-knacks daring you to impulse buy, so take a leaf out of big business and implement cross-sells.
#4 Fight Back Against Abandoned Carts
Cart abandonment’s can occur for numerous reasons, but you have to fight back against them, and hers why: according to Baymard 68.81% of carts are abandoned!
That figure is shocking I know, but it means you have an opportunity to increase sales by trying to convince customers to comeback to their abandoned carts.
The best way to do this is to send a follow up email as soon as possible to the customer, reminding them of their abandoned cart.
Humour helps with this but as always know your audience and test!
Once again, bribing your customers can help here too as you could offer a (possibly one time) discount, discount of future purchases, or free shipping in an effort to get them to complete their purchase.
#5 Never Miss a Holiday
This might sound obvious, but make sure you’re marketing for each major holiday and any minor ones that might be related to your particular niche market.
ThinkGeek does this well, by offering promotions on geek related anniversaries such as Star Trek’s 50th anniversary.
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#6 Use Your Analytics Data
By monitoring what people are viewing, what they are searching for internally and what they searched for in the search engines to arrive at your site you can figure out which product niches are popular and run marketing campaigns and promotions for just those products.
#7 Show Stock Levels
Listing how many products you have in stock for customers to see might seem counter intuitive, but experienced marketers know that scarcity tactics work, and that’s precisely what this technique does.
If the stock is low then it can help push undecided customers into making a purchase just in case the product goes out of stock before they make their mind up.
Offering a small, say 5%, discount on low stock offers could also help, but again, test test, test!
#8 Test Your Site’s Usability Regularly
Making sure that your site is easy to use is important because unwieldy websites suffer from user frustration and frustrated users tend to simply leave a site rather than buying something!
There are plenty of different services and software programs out there that can help you test your site’s usability.
Crazy Egg for example can help you see where people view and click on the site, UserTesting.com provide real world user feedback and, perhaps my favorite, The User is Drunk, where a drunk person tests your site!
#9 Social Proof with Social Media
Social networking sites often use hashtags to help people find things that interest them. You can abuse this by searching for products you sell or even your own brand name to see if people are showcasing your products.
If they are, showcase them back on your site!
People love social proof and it can help the undecided choose to shop with you, so linking positive social media posts on your site is a no brainer.
#10 Make Use of Email Marketing
Any marketer will tell you that getting a targeted email list to market to is half the battle. Well guess what? People who sign up to your mailing list are targeted!
An email list is a powerful tool to increase sales, as not only are your subscribers interested in what you have to sell, you can also tailor emails to the particular buyer.
Amazon do this amazingly well and even send emails after you have simply viewed a product, so take a leaf from their book and make use of email marketing.
You can send emails for:
- Details of upcoming sales
- Cross-sells related to recent purchases
- Emails detailing products related to recent page views
- Reminders of wish list products
- Offers or suggestions for your customers birthday
The great thing about email marketing is that you can automate the vast majority of it allowing you to increase sales with little on going work.
#11 Improve Your Images
Products with quality supporting images are more likely to sell than ones without.
I was looking for backpacks today and I skipped over several of them that looked decent all because they only had one photo!
Instead I found myself examining and in the end purchasing a backpack because the numerous, high resolution photos showed me everything I needed to see without actually holding the item in my hands.
#12 Mobile Commerce
Your site shouldn’t just work on mobile devices, it should be designed to look as if it was built just for them! If your mobile version just looks like a smaller version of your desktop site, you’re doing it wrong. It should, if possible, almost be app like: intuitive and easy to use!
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The easier and smoother the process of buying on mobile is, the higher chance people will do just that.
Online sales on mobile are increasing, year on year, so investing in this area of online e-commerce can pay dividends.
#13 Price Promise
This tactic can be used to increase sales, especially if your merchandise is not the cheapest out there.
It acts like a guarantee and safety net for consumers who might be undecided about purchasing a product.
Of course, before offering this sort of service, you need to make sure that your margins allow for it.
#14 Craft Product Descriptions
A product description is there to complement the product photos. It should be well written, crafted even, and used as a sales pitch to warm the customer up to the purchase. It should exude all the best features of the product in about 80 – 200 words or so.
It shouldn’t contain unnecessary technical information, put all that below the description or in another tab.
#15 Write a Blog
E-commerce sites aren’t great when it comes to SEO, so having a blog on your site can help make up for it. How does a blog help you improve sales? Well, it can help drive traffic to your store via SEO and can help increase brand awareness.
Not only that but the topics in your posts can even link back to products in your store.
Blog posts can also be easily shared and linked to by other blogs or on social media, helping new customers find your wares.
Topics you could blog about:
- Answer peoples questions about products
- Discuss news related to the niche or products
- Provide advice or tutorials on using products
- Discuss the history of your company
#16 Look Across the Border
If you sell only to people in the US, you’re missing out on oh about 7 billion other people!
By looking across borders you can expand your reach and sales. Canada is an obvious target market, but why not look to other countries and other languages?
For example you could get your site (professionally) translated into Spanish and focus on one or more Spanish speaking countries to sell to.
According to the British Council:
[Spanish is] the second-most widely spoken language in the world (after Mandarin Chinese), with 400 million native speakers, and official status in a staggering 21 countries, spanning South, Central and North America, as well as Africa and Europe.
Opening your business to 400 million extra people can’t hurt can it?
#17 Offer an Affiliate Program
Affiliate marketers often get a bad rap, cited with gaming the system and using bad techniques to push sales.
There are some bad apples out there of course, but the large majority of affiliate marketers play by the rules as they known that a company – affiliate relationship is a win – win relationship.
Done right, a generous affiliate program can help increase targeted traffic and sales dramatically.
#18 Use Coupons
Over sue of coupons and discounts can actually have a negative effect on a business, but using them in a targeted and controlled manner can improve sales.
Check out our article on coupon codes for your online business.
#19 Offer Free Shipping
Shipping costs can stop sales dead in their tracks so what better way to resolve this than by offering free shipping!
Free shipping can be used to distinguish your site from the competition leading to more users.
As well as that, by setting a threshold for free shipping you can reduce your overheads and increase cart value.
Free shipping just makes sense, especially if you can get away with slightly increasing product prices across the board to offset the shipping costs you still have to pay.
The Bottom Line
There are many different ways to increase e-commerce sales, and hopefully this list has gotten your creative juices flowing. Let me know of other tactics you use to increase sales, via the comments section below.