Increase your Online Sales – the Easy Way
The best business results often come from going back to basics. In fact, sometimes clever ideas and pursuing the latest trends causes more mundane items to be ignored and can turn into a business negative.
So what do you need to do to have a massive impact on online sales volumes? The ideas below won’t all be critical in every market, but each is well worth a look. It’s important to make sure that performance is already optimal in these areas before more advanced ideas are even considered.
1. Develop Trust
- People have to trust you before they will buy from your site, so a key thing is to provide your contact details on every page, including a telephone number, email and even your physical address.
- Responding promptly to emails boosts confidence, as does answering the telephone quickly and professionally.
- If you are a member of any trade bodies e.g. IMRG or FSB, then say so. And join at least one of the merchant accreditation schemes like ISIS or SafeBuy.
- If you have a physical shop or a warehouse, display a picture of it, and if you employ staff, maybe show a staff photo.
- Highlight delivery costs up front so that buyers don’t get a shock when they try to checkout. Unexpected P&P is a major cause of cart abandonment.
In fact, anything which reinforces the feeling that you are a substantial, straightforward business will help.
2. Use the Best Host
If you have a good web store don’t skimp on hosting costs as it’s a false economy. This is borne out by Google research that showed a 30% improvement in page loading speed, leads to a 30% increase in business. Google has also stated (for the first time) that it will rank a speedy site higher, and clearly visitors like fast sites too. In fact we have found that moving our customers to a faster hosting package can increase traffic by up to 50%.
Meanwhile Adobe has recently said that “improving speed can reduce abandonment rates by up to 41%” so that’s another plus.
3. Give More Details
One of the things I have noticed in visiting our most successful online retailers is just how much time they have put into the descriptions and pictures of their products. It really works.
Amazingly many e-tailers throw away orders by not providing enough product information. An option to see more information enables the buyer to assess whether this is the right product. That means full details including, where appropriate, size, weight, energy/power rating, what works with what and similar information. You could also add tips for making best use of the item.
Big retailers like ASOS and M&S display all of their products photographed on real models. This is expensive, but the results pretty much speak for themselves. If your market is fashion-driven, then you need to tell stories about the products – such as why they are fashionable this season and who’s wearing them.
All of this also has major search engine benefits too. Search engines love content and if it’s constantly evolving, they will rank you even more highly.
4. Use Postcode Lookup
Using postcode lookup system where you ask your buyers to input their postcode and then the rest of the web form is filled in automatically makes your checkout look more professional. Plus it’s simpler and quicker for your customers and cuts cart abandonment. In fact, key strokes are reduced by 80% in using this technology and you will certainly reduce costs because delivery addresses will be more accurate, so less failed deliveries and any follow up mail shots have the same benefit.
Postcode lookup from a company like Postcode Anywhere costs pennies and will gain all of these advantages.
5. Be Careful about Customer Registration
We all find it irritating to have to remember lots of passwords and resent the forced creation of yet another. Unless people are already regular customers before they complete their first order (which most won’t be), forced account creation could lose you sales. Instead, give people the option over whether they want to create an account or not.
6. Test & Measure
There is a documented case where sales doubled simply by removing the discount code field from checkout. Presumably in that particular market, buyers without discount codes felt ripped off if they didn’t have a code. In another case sign ups increased by 200% after “Free trial” was changed to “See plans and pricing.”
Experimenting with your site and measuring the results is boring for most people. But these two examples illustrate that massive and unexpected gains can result from small changes.
None of the tips in this article are sexy or innovative; they may even sound boring, but added up they can have a dramatic impact on sales. When considering where to expend precious time and resources, there’s only one critical question to ask. What will this do for my sales? Everything else is irrelevant.