If you want to make money online, an eCommerce site is a great way to get started. But, with more and more businesses springing up on the web, it’s getting harder to make sales. Our five tips will help you grow your business, become future-proof and stay one step ahead of the competition on the internet.
1. Make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for
How do your customers think about the products they are seeking? What mental categories are they using? You can put everything you sell into a spider diagram or mind map. Make sure all products have a home. Rather than just product types, try to think about how, when, where or why things are used so customers can intuitively find what they are looking for. All this will help you create your drop down menus.
Many people will have come to your site knowing both what you sell and exactly what they want. Evidence suggests that around 70% of customers use internal search engines, so make sure you invest in good search technology.
Your design should be elegant but unobtrusive. Don’t go overboard on the bells and whistles or you might trip customers up before they something.
Finally, non-product pages need to be clearly written and easy to understand. Information about payment and delivery is especially important. Consider creating an FAQ page and adding any questions people ask customer service as you go along.
2. Produce professional, clean-looking product images
In a survey, eCommerce pioneer, Etsy, found that 90 per cent of shoppers rated the quality of product photos as “extremely important” or “very important” to a purchase decision. That is because, in the digital domain, customers must be able to examine what they are buying very carefully. If they can’t get “up close and personal” with your products, they won’t trust them and probably won’t make a purchase.
Consumers also use images to find their way through the site, so clarity of product silhouette is also important.
In order to show your products in their best light, it’s advisable to use a professional photography service. Or, if what you are selling is small enough, you can buy a product photography light box which gives your product built-in lighting and background. Just place the item inside and snap.
With remove.bg you can make the best of existing photos, perhaps from a manufacturer, by quickly and easily removing the background in 5 seconds and no clicks. This route is also useful when a picture doesn’t look as good as you hoped it would.
3. Come up with great product copy and reviews
Like excellent photos, superb product descriptions and reviews serve to build trust – and make it easier for buyers to buy. How is this best achieved? The basis must be traditional, high quality marketing copy which underlines all the benefits of the product to the consumer.
Following that, the description should answer any questions that the potential buyer might ask a sales assistant in a shop. The idea is to shoot down any concerns that she may have before clicking “buy”.
Reviews help build trust because they provide independent verification of the quality and value-for-money of the product. Amazon puts these on the product page below the description. Their wisdom – and, sometimes their wit – is famous and cherished.
It is hard to collect reviews because few people can be bothered to sit down and write them. After all, they are online looking for convenience. There are also issues with getting potentially negative reviews from customers. You can help with this by making it simple for customers to provide feedback. Consider a form which asks them if they are “happy with the product or service” – but to leave a rating if they are and to contact you if they are not. This can also be carried out in a chat box.
Alternatively, you can send an email to the customer to find out about their experience. Obviously, a wise eCommerce site owner will also act upon the feedback received, perhaps finessing customer service or by pulling products customers are not happy with.
4. Make checkout as simple and safe as possible
The customer should be taken from product to shopping basket to checkout as smoothly as possible. Nothing should stand in their way! You don’t want any doubts to enter their mind.
How do you make it easier to get them to checkout? Statistics show that forcing customers to create an account is seen by them as a barrier. Each additional field and click needed loses sales. In fact, all consumers need to order is their email, a password and a checkbox to agree to opt in to communications. If you wish them to register – which provides benefits to both customer and retailer – explain those benefits. Or have them input details bit by bit.
You also want to focus a buyer’s mind on the sale when it comes to that point. Amazon cuts down the number of links from the page when it comes to pressing the “confirm order” button.
5. Establish a brand, that customers cherish and return to
If Main Street has an advantage over the vast majority of online-only companies, it’s the strength and presence of brands found on them. Online, large companies dominate, particularly Amazon and eBay. Their brands both promise a cornucopia of products – all you could wish for!
How to compete against this? Refuse to be a commodity! Make sure you are likable. That way, customers will come back to you.
Create a brand that is totally in tune with your customers’ wants and needs. Be focused on what they desire and be the best at it. Don’t worry about being too specific. Make sure you offer quality products that please and last (poor quality products are an Achilles’ Heel for both Amazon and eBay) at a fair price.
You should consider creating content that enlightens and entertains customers and encourages them to sign up to your newsletter. Make sure you avoid overselling your product in content or you might put them off.
Then there are innovative pricing methods. Subscriptions are increasingly popular. There are “clubs” where you can have socks delivered regularly, or cheese. This also sells peace of mind because you never have to worry about having good socks ever again.
Finally, let the passion for your products shine through! After all, an appreciation of great merchandise is what you and your customers have in common.