The challenge for every online retailer is always going to be working out how to increase sales. Whether you’re just starting out, finding that sales have plateaued or looking to meet ambitious growth targets, identifying creative ways to reach more customers has to be a priority for your store. We know first hand just how hard running an Ecommerce business can be, and few things are more discouraging than feeling like you’re just not selling enough. The goods news is that there are many creative ways to sell more products online – you just need to identify them and implement them on your store.
Here are some of the steps that you can take to make your online store more effective and increase your sales over the coming year. You’ve probably heard many of them before, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t revisit how well you’re doing them! There’s no point in flogging a dead horse, but you should ensure that you’re contextualising each step for your customers and your products. We also confess that the title of this article is a little misleading. Whilst all of these ideas are easy enough to implement, there’s a strong argument that there are no easy ways to sell more products online. However, by making informed decisions about how you go about your business you’ll certainly be setting yourself up for success.
1. Sell Offline to Sell Online
One of the biggest mistakes that first-time store owners make is thinking that they have to generate all their sales online. This approach means that you’re missing out on a huge sales and marketing opportunity.
Selling your products offline – even if it’s only to friends, family and colleagues – is a great way to get your wares out into the marketplace. You’ll find that happy customers are more than happy to talk about your products and signpost others to your store. Generating revenue from offline sales should start to bring a steady stream of traffic and referrals to your online store – and motivate and encourage you to keep improving your store.
2. Dedicate Time to Blogging and Content Creation
You’ve probably been told this time and time again, but it really is vital that you dedicate time to blogging and content creation in a format of your choosing. No, writing a few blogs won’t instantaneously generate vast numbers of sales, but almost every successful online business is good at content creation.
There isn’t one content-creation formula that you have to stick to. You might prefer to write regular blog posts about how your business is progressing. Some store owners are much better at producing short Facebook updates or daily snapshots on Instagram. The key thing is that you resolve to produce content on a regular basis that engages with your audience and potential customers.
We love the way that Pipers Farm are using Instagram to show customers the ethos and vision behind the business. They don’t just share photos of their products – although they do that brilliantly too – but they invite customers to look behind-the-scenes and be part of the journey. Their photography is beautiful and tells a wonderful story, but just as important is the fact that they have clearly dedicated time and effort to producing new content as often as possible.
3. Start Upselling
Upselling is an incredibly simple strategy that we all encounter on a daily basis. All you need to do is offer customers to buy an additional product before they complete their transaction.
If you’re in the supermarket or petrol station you have to walk past a range of sweet treats before paying for your goods – a very simple and effective form of upselling. The same principle applies online. It’s much, much easier to persuade a customer to spend a little more than it is to win new customers. All you need to do is work out what kinds of additional products your customers might want to purchase, and then set up an app to target customers in this way. If you’re not sure how to do this then we recommend that you speak to your web developer to get this set up on your store.
4. Cherish Every Customer and Supplier
One of the most important principles of customer service – no matter how big your store – is that every customer should feel valued. We don’t often think of this as a sales strategy, but it really is. When we surpass our customers’ expectations they usually end up telling their friends and family about it. It takes time and effort to offer excellent customer service, but in the long run it’s a powerful and ethical way to sell more products online.
We heard a story this week about a high-end wedding venue who give every couple a free iPad when they visit the venue. Now this might be an extreme example, but what a brilliant illustration of how going above and beyond the call of duty gives customers an experience that they’ll tell their friends about – friends who are almost certainly in your target audience and who will quickly become potential customers.
5. Make Your Delivery Options Clearer
We talk about this a lot, and it’s pretty obvious when you think about it, but losing customers because your delivery options are unclear is a cardinal Ecommerce sin.
Make it as clear as possible how your delivery works and how much it’s going to cost. We’ve seen stores with terrible conversion rates see dramatic increases in their sales when they sort this one out.
6. Improve Your Product Descriptions
When a potential customer lands on one of your product pages you should be doing everything in your power to convince them to buy from you. Unfortunately, however, many online stores have really weak product descriptions that fail to do this.
It’s really important that you write your own product descriptions, even if the manufacturer has already provided these, because you don’t want to be putting duplicate content on your site (a big SEO faux pas) and because you should be giving your customers more than the bare minimum. Informative, thorough and compelling product descriptions aren’t easy to write but this should always be your goal.
7. Paid Advertising Through Google and Facebook
Paid advertising is sometimes held out as a golden bullet for online stores. It’s not, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be very, very effective if set up properly.
The premise is very simple: by targeting your audience as specifically as possible – both in terms of demographic and the format that your adverts take – you’ll be paying a relatively small amount to get your products out to the people who are most likely to buy them. If you’re not careful you can end up wasting money, but a well-run advertising campaign can be a quick and effective way to sell more products online.
8. Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment
Shopping cart abandonment is an activity that didn’t really exist prior to Ecommerce. You didn’t walk around your local supermarket and see dozens of abandoned shopping carts left behind by shoppers who have gone elsewhere for a better deal.
The painful reality for a lot of store owners that somewhere between 30% and 70% of people who add products to their cart fail to complete a transaction. There are loads of reasons why this happens – we’ve already mentioned the importance of making your delivery details as clear and transparent as possible – but by identifying the causes of shopping cart abandonment you can sell more products online without having to increase your traffic.
There are lots of great apps that can help with this, from retargeting customers on social media to sending them an email reminding them that they were interested in your products. .
9. Perfect Your Receipts
A surprisingly effective way to sell more products online is to perfect your receipts and see these as prime marketing opportunities to your most receptive audience.
The guys at Receiptful have produced this infographic which shows that receipts which are emailed to customers get an opening rate of more that 70%. Unlike marketing emails, which have an average opening rate of less than 20%, receipts are opened and read by the vast majority of your customers.
It’s also important to bear in mind that you only send receipts to your customers. These are people who have already bought your products. If they like the experience, there’s every chance that they’ll buy from you again. Perfecting your receipts and taking the opportunity to offer discounts, sales and upselling opportunities is a great way to increase your sales with the customers you already have.
10. Sell Through Facebook
If you’ve already got a Facebook business page then adding a Facebook store is a quick and easy way to add a new sales channel. We expect that it’s only a matter of time before we see full Ecommerce functionality on all the main social media channels, so it’s well worth getting up to speed with how a Facebook store works now.
11. Discount Your Products / Run a Sale
If we can learn anything from the January sales it’s that customers are endlessly drawn to discounts and sales – even if they’ve just spent the previous month spending their way through Christmas. If you don’t discount your products or run a sale then you’re missing out on a valuable way to increase sales and broaden your customer base.
Even a small discount of 10 or 20 percent gives customers the implicit message that they’re getting a good deal. When combined with email marketing – see point 12 below – you’ve got the tools to drive significantly higher traffic, sell more products and get yourself out there. It’s a simple but effective way to sell more products online.
12. Build an Email Database
Email marketing is the lifeblood of many ecommerce businesses. It’s a key way to engage with your customers on a daily basis and remind them of all the great products that you sell – and, perhaps most importantly, of any sales or discounts that you’re running. Building an email database allows you to connect with an ever-increasing audience in a direct and powerful way.
13. Integrate Product Reviews
Product reviews are a great way to increase sales because they have a powerful impact on how much customers are prepared to trust your store. Encouraging your customers to leave a review can be a vulnerable process, simply because you might not always like what you hear! However, in the long run it’s essential. Stores with an effective produce review system are far more likely to convert visitors into customers, and a bank of product reviews will do wonders for your business. It will inspire trust in both the product and your store, and provide a valuable source of customer feedback that will help you to improve your service going forwards.
14. Keep it Simple, Be Patient and Persevere
The temptation for many store owners wanting to sell more products online is to try an endless succession of new ideas. They read articles like this one and respond in one of two ways. Either they launch into a frenzy of activity in an attempt to integrate countless strategies and ideas, or they retreat in despair at the mountainous volume of work that they face if they’re ever going to increase their sales.
The reality is that you need to identify the strategies that will work best for your business, simplify them as much as possible and then dig your heels in for the long haul. The most successful online businesses usually result from the hard work and dedication of their owners over a prolonged period of time. Ultimately, selling more products online is about making your products more accessible to more people, which isn’t in itself a complex premise. If you’re running an online store we’d encourage you to focus on your strengths, chip away at your weaknesses and refuse to give up – because the lessons that you’ll learn at this point will be invaluable in the future.