This article might seem like it’s about selling online, but it’s really about being the best at what you do. No matter what that is, hopefully, you’ll get something worthwhile out of it.
I’ve been in eCommerce for over a decade now. I love this industry! It’s dynamic, engrossing and rapidly evolving. And it takes a lot of work. People hear stories of sellers on Amazon, for example, who are making six figures working two hours a day while drinking mojitos on the beach. Trust me, the ones who are making this kind of money are working very hard and are great at what they do.
Competition today is ruthless. To even stand a chance, you have to know every step of your customer’s journey like it’s your own, from their initial research to their decision to purchase (or not) and beyond.
And even in our digital age, I’ve found that what makes a sale has been pretty much the same for, well…forever. In the hope that this might help you in whatever you do, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
To drive revenue, you need your keys. (Key performance indicators, that is.)
Make sure you track essential eCommerce KPIs, like:
• Conversion rate
• Gross profit margin
• Average order value
• Shopping cart abandonment rate
• Cost of customer acquisition
• Customer lifetime value
God is in the details – and so are sales
No matter what you’re selling or where you’re selling it, your product detail page has to be perfect. It has to substitute for the experience of holding and examining a product as you consider buying, so no detail is too trivial. Here’s what you should be sure to include:
• The product name and the more descriptive, the better. Remember to include likely search keywords, too, like “Button-Front Floral Print Maxi Dress.”
• A product description. Obviously. Strike a balance between keeping the description short and including all the important information. Put your customer hat on and answer the questions you think she’s likely to have.
• Provide high-quality images from a few angles, and be sure to highlight any special features. For example, zoom in on the fabric’s pattern or offer a close-up of an attractive detail. And if you have product video, that’s even better. Videos have a significant impact on sales – in fact, experts say video can push conversions by 80% or more.
• Your best price. One of the big advantages of selling online is the ability to quickly update a product’s price to influence sales. Track your customers’ behavior and adjust your prices accordingly until you find the sweet spot of irresistible to them and profitable for you.
• A wish list. Yes, sales are partly about timing. A customer simply may not be ready to buy right now, so give him the option to save a product for later. Then comb through your wishlist data to get a better handle on which products are most popular and to extend personalized offers via on-site recommendations, emails, etc.
• Product recommendations. Why? Recommending additional products will increase revenue and customer satisfaction. That’s a win for both of you. Just don’t add more than three because eshoppers find too many recommendations confusing.
• Shipping details and your return policy. Definitely be upfront and consistent with these. Free shipping and hassle-free returns are obviously the best options, but they’re not practical for every seller. Whatever you do, avoid showing different details on different pages! Customers hate to be surprised with unexpected charges (who can blame them?) and will most likely abandon the whole process.
• A call to action is called a call to action for a reason. It’s not a whisper. Make sure the CTA button is above the fold and impossible to miss.
Make it personal
Don’t just get to know your customers; strive to understand them at the deepest level. Wring every bit of insight you can out of data like their previous purchases and search history. This will enable you to target sales offers and ads with pinpoint accuracy. (That’s the goal, anyway.) The better you understand their behavior, the stronger a digital strategy you can develop for your business.
Be where your customers are – on Amazon
Amazon is by far the most popular marketplace in America, and it’s relentlessly expanding globally. Ignore it at your peril! Facts: 90% of shoppers will search for a product or compare prices on Amazon even after finding the product on a retailer’s page. 80% of Amazon sellers also sell on other channels. 89% of shoppers are more likely to buy on Amazon than on other eCommerce sites. If you sell on other channels or work with an eCommerce platform like Shopify, Magneto or BigCommerce, I encourage you to look for software that allows you to create and manage listings directly from the platform and your catalog instead of doing it with Amazon’s system. It will save you a lot of time.
Free shipping makes money for you.
Take a guess how many cart abandonments are due to extra shipping costs. Would you believe 63%?? It’s true! This tip is simple: offer free shipping and make sure every shopper knows it from the first step of their journey.
Discounts count for a lot
Most online sellers offer discounted items, with an average of 40% off. If you possibly can, offer discounts and incentives. A little off can get you a lot in return.
Be here, there and everywhere.
It’s super important to work in a bunch of channels at the same time if you want to reach as many shoppers as possible. Boost your brand by increasing engagement with your audience on social networks, and don’t neglect channels like email and search.
The best customer service wins
Timely and helpful customer service can keep a customer and save a sale. Offer support by email, phone, text, live chat – whatever your customer prefers. And make sure all your customer service contact options are easy to find.
Are you sold yet?
The pandemic has hurt a lot of businesses, but it’s actually helped e-commerce by emphasizing it’s advantages. Pandemic or not, who doesn’t love to shop in their pajamas after putting their kids to bed? I know I do.
This industry has enormous potential, but the competition is just as sizable…and it’s only getting harder as more and more sellers go online and sharpen their etailing skills. In an environment as crowded and competitive as this one, you have to excel down to the smallest detail just to survive, let alone thrive.
So maybe you won’t work two hours a day and drink mojitos on the beach. But you could love what you do for a living so much, it hardly seems like work at all. And how many people can say that?