Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
Launching an e-commerce store is easy. Thanks to multiple e-commerce platforms and templates, you don’t even need to know any coding. But starting a store and making it profitable are two different things – the latter being more and more difficult, especially as your competition keeps growing and evolving.
How to make sure that you don’t lose your piece of the pie and keep increasing your share in the market that’s expected to grow to $605.3 billion in 2019? Here’re the top tips.
1. Take Care of Your Store’s Speed
One of the most common reasons why online businesses lose their customers is a slow website. Unfortunately, many e-commerce beginners fall into the trap of buying the cheapest $0.50/month shared hosting and calling it a day.
While you don’t have to invest hundreds of dollars in hosting right from the start, without a good cloud hosting for e-commerce, it’s going to be incredibly hard to compete with those who optimize their store for speed. Luckily, it’s possible to get a decent hosting for as little as $10. What, together with a little effort and improvements to the site itself, should help you avoid seeing speed test results similar to the below:
2. Prepare Detailed Product Descriptions and Images
On top of getting a
In addition to that, you can't forgo product catalog management. ECommerce product catalog management benefits in ensuring the quality of your product data across all of your sales channels.
When describing the product, don’t delve too much on the features. List them, but try to emphasize product benefits that customers will get in return for their money. While the features are important to know, it’s the benefits that ultimately convert your customers and lead to a purchase.
3. Use Discounts and Promotions – But Be Smart about It
Up until now, I rarely advised to use discounts and promotions. Pricing wars are never a good thing, and limit the profits for both sides. But as seasonal sales start earlier than ever before and end long after the holidays are over, it becomes harder than ever to ignore the power of discounts.
This makes them worth testing out. Naturally, don’t just give them away for free. Always ask for personal details so that you can at least stay in touch with your potential customers and email them valuable content, as well as the information about your products and sales, what may lead to establishing a long-term relationship.
Don’t forget to measure the impact that different deals and discounts have on your sales. Handing out 15% discount coupons won’t help your business. And if you’re positioning yourself as an exclusive brand, sometimes restraining from discounts altogether might be much more beneficial.
4. Personalize Your Website
If you don’t use personalization yet, start doing it. There are many ways in which you can start personalizing your website. This can range from tracking your customers, and showing them offers that they have watched before or that might suit their other purchases, all the way to using dynamic text content that will greet them on the site or switch the position of category links, bringing up the ones they are most likely to click.
But in 2019, you might have to go for one other type of personalization. Or, rather, a “regionalization” of your store. Why? Local markets are becoming small, and customers are no longer afraid of shopping at foreign online stores. Because of that, it’s worth having different pricing and shipping options for customers from strategic markets. This will help you increase the
5. Stay Open to Questions from Site Visitors
No FAQ page can list all questions your customers have. Not to mention that some of them won’t even bother to open it, and those who do, might not find the answers they are looking for –
Naturally, you can’t sit 24/7 answering queries from your customers. If you can’t afford hiring customer reps, consider adding a chat that connects with email or FB Messenger. This makes getting back to your customers easy, and doesn’t break the contact even when they’re gone from your site.
Alternatively, you might want to look into robo-chats. These allow your customers to “talk” to a virtual assistant, predefined to answer most common questions. Keep in mind that they are still a new invention, so you should test their effectiveness versus traditional chats carefully.
6. Give Your Customers a 30-Day Product Return Policy
One of the reasons why Amazon is so popular is its generous product return policy. While many stores don’t want to offer one as it’s an additional cost and might often lead to customers abusing it, the benefits outweigh the cost. How come?
When your customers can choose between two stores, one allowing them to send the product back hassle-free, and the other one forcing them to make a decision based exclusively on what they read online, which store do you think they will choose? You’re right – the one with a better return policy!
7. And Don’t Forget to Watch the Data!
Last but not least, always track the results of any change. Make sure that you know how your visitors found your site. Did they come from organic search, one of the referring websites, or are they direct visitors?
Similarly, watch conversions carefully. Maybe the personalization you’ve added didn’t really help much. Or the testimonials aren’t as effective as you thought they would be (however, social proof is another, very effective way of improving your sales).
In the long run, all details count. The time your visitors spend on your
site, the devices that they use (mobile or desktop), and how the behave (use
heatmaps to track that) – all these should be at the core of your strategy for
improving your e-commerce store for better sales in 2019.
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