Not happy with your ecommerce sales? Try these 5 tips

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Not happy with your ecommerce sales? Try these 5 tips

From shopping cart abandonment emails to express shipping, these are some of the most effective five tips for your web site.

We are in the audience at this week's big Online Retailer Conference & Ecommece Expo in Sydney, listening to dozens of people talk about how to build and run successful ecommerce sites.

Through all the advice we're hearing, we've noticed a common thread - when it comes to selling online, the devil is in the detail.

What we mean is that seemingly tiny changes to your site can have quite an impact. A minute change to a web page - like changing the colour of an "in stock" logo from grey to green - can mean a significant increase or decrease in sales.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of things you "should" do on your ecommerce site - so many that it can be overwhelming. But amidst them all, these 5 are quite achieveable and really, really worth spending time on:

1. Create an email signup popup

Those little "Join our email list" popup boxes are annoying, but they work, according to what we've heard at this week's conference. Email marketer Ross Kramer from Listrak said the boxes had doubled the size of an email list of one of his customers. If you've been holding off on this for fear of driving away visitors, then maybe it's worth testing this (carefully).

2. Send shopping cart abandonment emails

An example of a message received after a shopper has abandoned a shopping cart, we spotted on the Listrak site.

This is a favourite of email marketers. We've heard some estimates that 70-75% of shopping carts are abandoned - either because visitors got distracted, the site was designed badly, or any number of other reasons. One tactic (tried by http://www.edex.com.au/ which sells educational products), is to setup a series of 3 emails which are automatically triggered if a visitor abandons a purchase - one 3 hours afterwards, then 48 hours later, then 48 hours after that. "Our recovery rate was 8.6%. The cost of the campaign was paid for within the first day," said Sarah Dennis from Educational Experience at a recent conference (not this week's event). "It's like money [you can find] in the seat cushions of your company," as we heard someone put it this week.

3. Post something on Facebook that is only seen by tertiary educated women aged 50 years and older, living in Melbourne

This doesn't even cost anything, as Jimmy Storrier of Zeebox points out (unlike Facebook ads that you might target this way). It's called targeting page posts. You can choose to have only people of a certain age see a status update of yours in their news feed, or only males, only females, people living in Western Australia, people living in another country, people who are married, single, or engaged, only people who speak traditional Chinese and so on. The idea is that your status update will hopefully be more relevant and interesting to those that see it, because it's written specifically for the special subset of people who see it. Of course this only works if people who have Liked your Facebook business page have shared these details with Facebook. You might not know about this feature as it is effectively hidden unless you turn it on: go to the top of your Facebook business page, click Edit Page, then Edit Settings, then Post Privacy Gating, then click the "Post Privacy Gating" check box and click Save Changes to turn it on.

4. Give your customers more than 1 delivery option when buying your products

Free delivery is often recommended to help convince your customers to buy a product from your site. But offering a choice of shipping options is also important. Give them one choice they get frustrated. Give them a number of choices - whether it's faster speed at a higher cost, or slower delivery for free - and you get higher conversion rate, says John Debrincat from secure ecommerce specialists eCorner. Express shipping is particularly popular. Also consider offering shopping to New Zealand. It's an opportunity a local businesses are missing out on, says Carl Hartmann from shipping specialists Temando. Shipping is often the last thing people think about when setting up a web site. But as we've learnt this week, it can be the crucial factor that convinces someone on your web site deciding to buy from you. The above screenshot is from The Iconic web site.

5. Test to see what works best

As this article demonstrates, the tiniest of changes to a web site can have a big effect on your bottom line. Just to pick an example we saw this week: a Facebook advertisement for a health and fitness campaign, which resulted in different click rates depending on whether the ad showed a photo of the celebrity behind the brand, a dumbbell or a plate of food. We heard another speaker at this week's event claim that often not even professional marketers can accurately predict which online designs or treatments will get clicked on the most. Sometimes it's the option you wouldn't have picked that works best.

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