27 Tips for Retailers to Successfully Sell Online.
If there is one thing that we’ve learned from COVID-19, it’s that pretty much every retailer needs to have an ecommerce presence if they hope to compete today. While some retailers could eke out a living without an online presence before the pandemic hit, today’s landscape is radically changed. More and more people are turning to the Internet for their everyday needs, and ecommerce has become commonplace.
Of course, it’s not as simple as building a website and reaping the benefits. Today’s ecommerce operators face stiffer competition than ever before. And not just from juggernauts like Amazon, but from local businesses right here in Ireland.
It’s not just the increase in competition that can stymie online retail success. Many pitfalls can trip you up, numerous mistakes can lead to a loss of visibility and profit, and the wrong decisions could cause a disconnect from your audience. We understand how critical it is to get it right, and we’ve compiled a list of the 27 most important ecommerce tips to help entrepreneurs achieve lasting, measurable success.
1. Be Committed to Experimentation
As an entrepreneur, you’re a risk-taker. Let that carry over into your online marketing efforts. Experiment with different ad styles, copy, imagery, placement, and more. Explore different platforms, from social ads to Google. But most importantly, be committed to experimenting with advertisements even before your website is fully operational. It takes time to build groundswell and gain traction, and too many entrepreneurs focus solely on perfecting their website while neglecting ads. Once you’re making money from your ads, then it’s time to experiment with your website.
2. Reinvest, Reinvest, Reinvest
It’s tempting to take any profit you make early on and put it in your account. After all, you’ve got bills to pay. You need to earn a living too, right? Hit the pause button for a little while. Any profit that you earn at the outset needs to be reinvested into your business. Remember, you need to spend money to make money. So, where should you be putting your initial profit? Into your digital marketing strategy. Into your website design. Into your online outreach efforts. Boost those Facebook posts, pay for Google AdWords ads, develop new features for your website that help make the user experience better.
3. Create a Schedule and Follow It Religiously
One thing that your customers will love is consistency. Take a cue from local supermarkets who start their weekly specials on the same day of the week, every single week. Follow that strategy with your product debuts, with your blog posts, and with other elements of your digital marketing strategy. Being consistent helps your customers learn what to expect and when to expect it. That helps to build loyalty and visibility. However, it will only work if you commit to and then stick to a schedule.
4. Explore Other Channels from the Beginning
Too many entrepreneurs think that they can build an online store and then just kick back and let organic SEO bring them all the customers they need. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Yes, organic SEO is critical for success, but you can’t assume that it’s all you’ll need to do. Get out there and explore other channels from the very beginning. Social networks like Facebook and Instagram are important for ecommerce success and will help you build an audience ready to buy when you launch your brand. Collecting email addresses is crucial for email marketing and referrals. Other channels help you promote your products, connect with your audience, and build a thriving online business.
5. Inform Your Customers
While high-quality images are essential for ecommerce success, you need to make sure that your customers have access to all the information they’re going to need to make an informed purchase decision. This goes well beyond creating detailed product descriptions. Make sure your site has clearly explained shipping and return policies, a contact page where your customers can reach you in multiple ways, including email, by phone, and online chat, and more.
6. Create Compelling Product Copy
We get it. Creating copy isn’t your strong suit. And, most manufacturers have stock descriptions already, so isn’t that enough? Not by half. Each product you offer must have a detailed description that details its benefits to the customer while highlighting the most important features or functions. You need to sell not just the product, but the experience of owning it. For instance, if you’re selling the latest tablet computer, you could talk about productivity on the go, or perhaps taking classes from the living room – turn features into benefits that affect your customers’ lives.
7. Take Time to Get Your Website Right
Once you get a customer to your site, the site’s design, functionality, and flow are what will keep them from bouncing out. Take the time to get the design right from the beginning. Obviously, the design will vary depending on your industry, your brand, and many other factors, but make sure you have lots of whitespace, that your products are highlighted with multiple, high-quality images (and possibly videos), and that the site is easy to use and navigate.
8. Emulate a Winner
Achieving success in the world of ecommerce may require following someone else’s lead. Thankfully, there are plenty of successful ecommerce companies out there that you can look to emulate. Look beyond your industry, though, so you’re not trying to copy a competitor. Find companies that set new standards for the ecommerce industry as a whole. For instance, Disney is a great choice for customer-focused websites, while Amazon is the go-to example for companies trying to offer almost everything under one roof. You do know you don’t always have to beat Amazon, you can use Amazon as a platform.
9. Ask for Feedback
Want to know how functional your ecommerce store’s design is? Ask for feedback. Want to know if you’re hitting all the right notes with your product catalogue? Ask for feedback. Where do you turn for that information, though? It’s tempting to go to a competitor, but that would be a mistake. Instead, get feedback from early adopters who love your brand. At Emarkable, we’re also happy to provide feedback, guidance, and professional design solutions so you can get it right from the very beginning.
10. Help Your Customers Find What They Want Immediately
While customers in a physical store might be more than happy to walk up and down the aisles looking for what they want, it doesn’t work that way in the ecommerce world. You need to make it easy for them to find exactly what they want right away. How do you do that? You must be specific with product categories. Broad categories that include multiple subcategories without any differentiation lead to confusion and frustration – break things up and be as specific as possible. For instance, instead of “Men’s”, break it up into “Men’s Shoes”, “Men’s Casual Wear”, and the like.
11. Use More Than One Social Network
We understand – spending time on social media can be challenging. However, you cannot afford to neglect some channels. While it’s true that you might not benefit from all social networks (LinkedIn is probably not the place to share your new catalogue additions), many of them can be highly beneficial. Facebook and Instagram are the two most important for ecommerce stores but don’t overlook other options like Snapchat or YouTube.
12. Build Your Brand with Content
When it comes to digital marketing, content is of key importance. This is particularly true for ecommerce stores where you’re essentially reselling a product that another company manufactured, and competing with other ecommerce stores doing the same thing. To stand out from the competition, you need to create original, high-quality content. Think blog posts, buying guides, user guides, even YouTube videos showing the products you sell in action. The goal is to educate your visitors, guide their purchase decision, and build your brand in the process.
13. Make Shipping Free
It’s tempting to charge for shipping. After all, if you eat the cost, that erodes your already-slim profit margin. However, customers today increasingly expect no or low-cost shipping. By offering free shipping where possible, you align with those expectations while also removing a potential deal-breaker from your customers’ path.
14. Focus on Marketing First
It’s tempting to focus on perfecting your website first, but that’s a mistake. Without marketing, you have no audience base, so your website design efforts are for nothing. Actively promote your brand through social media even if your website’s not 100% perfect. Create regular blog posts. Budget for PPC and social media ads. Cross-promote in magazines and high-traffic blogs. If you cannot build traffic, then it doesn’t matter how perfect your website is. At Emarkable, we can help you design the perfect site, while simultaneously building out your digital marketing strategy.
15. Go After Abandoned Shopping Carts
Your customers will abandon their shopping carts. It’s unavoidable. However, they don’t have to remain abandoned. You can connect with your customers and remind them of their pending purchase in a couple of different ways. Email reminders are a great example of this, but you can also use retargeting, or even offer a discount to entice customers to return and complete their purchase.
16. Build Backlinks
Google loves authoritative backlinks. That’s reason enough to start building them as soon as possible – the boost they give your organic SEO can be significant. However, don’t neglect the human factor, either. Simply put, the more roads (links) leading to your ecommerce site, the more opportunities you have to drive customers where you want them from multiple other locations.
17. Make Your Customers Feel Special
Find ways to make your customers feel special, appreciated, and valued. That doesn’t mean offering them 50% off coupons all the time. Find ways to thank your customers for their patronage, like customer appreciation events, thank you emails that link to a free gift, and more. There are endless ways that you can show your customers how much they mean to you and help your ecommerce store stand out at the same time.
18. Do the Work
Yes, there’s a lot to learn about running a successful ecommerce store. You’ll read books, peruse blogs, interact on social media, and so much more. However, at some point, the rubber must meet the road. You must do the work, or the store will never succeed. Ultimately, you’ll find that experiential learning is better than theoretical learning, as it allows you to get hands-on with your store and figure things out as you go. If you find yourself spending more time researching than stocking your virtual shelves, creating content for marketing, or driving traffic to your site, it’s time to get out and do the work.
19. Explore Apps (Free)
You’ll discover a host of apps out there that all promise to help make running your ecommerce store faster and easier. From automation to digital marketing, communication to product research, there’s an app for everything. Finding the right apps for you without spending a fortune can be challenging, though. Experiment with different apps that offer free trials – it’ll save you time, hassle, and money while ensuring that you’re able to get the right applications for your success.
20. Upsell Offers Matter
Upselling provides you with a way to increase the value of a customer’s purchase while also selling more products. However, for that to work, you’ll need to have upsell offers tied to each product. You can go about this in any number of ways, but one of the most effective is to offer a similar but higher-priced item, along with an incentive like free shipping if the customer acts now.
21. Go Beyond Ads
PPC and social ads are powerful drivers of success. However, to really see measurable, lasting success in the ecommerce world, you need to go beyond them. Search engine optimisation is one of the most critical things to consider, but you also need to focus on content marketing, email marketing, and finding other ways to put your brand out there and drive traffic to your site. Customer loyalty programs and incentives like use or buying guides can also help you build traffic.
22. Share Customer Photos
Customers today love social proof. Reviews are a form of that, but so are customer photos. As you’re getting your ecommerce store up and running, ask customers to send in photos of their purchases and then highlight those images on social media, on your website, and in other locations online (with their permission, of course). Customer photos aren’t well-suited for ads but can be excellent tools for building interest and traffic.
23. Create a Sense of Urgency
Limited time offer, one-time sale, annual clearance – these are all examples of promotions that create a sense of urgency. If the customer doesn’t act soon, they’ll miss out on major savings. You can create the same sense of urgency with a flash sale section on your website – give your items a countdown timer, and rotate the items in the section at least once per week. You should also make your flash sale section highly visible by placing it in the last slot of your top navigation bar.
24. Tap into Discount Apps
Shoppers love to save money, and many apps have been developed to take advantage of that. These apps search the internet for deals and discounts and then aggregate them in one place. Customers can then enter the product type or name they’re looking for and buy it with less hassle. As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you can take advantage of this trend by adding your discount codes to discount sites and apps.
25. Automate It
Artificial IntelligenceI has advanced a great deal in recent years, and it is now being used to automate mundane processes that would ordinarily take a great deal of time. Ecommerce automation tools help you focus on what you do best by automating things like processing orders, handling price changes, and even marketing in some instances. The more processes you can automate, the more time you’ll have to build your business. Choosing a reliable CRM will help you to automate many processes related to running and maintaining your ecommerce store, but you need to make an informed decision here. You’ll find quite a few CRMs out there, but they’re not all equal.
26. Be Smart with Your Niche
It’s tempting to jump into a trendy niche. After all, if you can get in early, you can ride the wave of popularity. The problem here is that all waves eventually come crashing down. For ecommerce companies, that means waning interest, dropping sales, and lost profitability. Instead of going with trendy niches, focus on those that have real staying power. For example, rather than focusing on a specific type of activewear, you might decide to focus on fitness wear and accessories in general, as this allows you to ride each trend as it emerges while still maintaining your core product offerings. You can also tie those niches into your digital marketing efforts through hashtags, content marketing, and social media, while also getting customers to look at your other offerings.
27. Use Product Videos to Your Advantage
Video is the single most popular type of digital content. You can tap into that by using product videos in your content marketing efforts. Video content can also be used and reused all over the Internet without any worries about creating duplicate content. Highlight it on product pages, your homepage, your blog, on Facebook, YouTube, and more. Just make sure that any accompanying text content is fresh with each reuse.
Keep Reading to discover three additional bonus tips!
28. Know Your Audience
One of the most critical tips for ecommerce success is this – know your audience. Chances are good that you’re not big enough to be everything to everyone the way Amazon is. Instead, you need to define your target audience and then create content for marketing, source products, and design your website with them in mind. This will also help you define and refine your ads through the filters offered by Facebook, Google, and other platforms. When you know your audience, you can create ad copy that deeply connects with them and increases the chance that they’ll click through to your site.
29. Use SMART Goals
Building a successful ecommerce site will require goal-setting. Make sure that you follow the SMART goal-setting process, whether you’re focusing on website design or content marketing. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely, and all of your ecommerce-related goals should fall within those criteria. For instance, a specific goal would be to bump up your website traffic by five per cent within 60 days. That goal is also measurable, achievable, relevant to your ecommerce success, and timely.
30. Outsource When Necessary
Finally, be realistic about what you can and cannot do. It might be entirely realistic for you to choose winning products, but can you design a website that will suit modern consumers? You can engage your audience through Facebook posts, but can you create compelling ad copy targeted at the right segment of your customer base? Don’t be afraid to outsource when necessary. Finding experts to help with tasks that aren’t within your area of expertise offers many benefits, including lightening your own load and ensuring that you’re getting outstanding results. After all, you can’t really take chances with your ecommerce success, so why would you try to do everything on your own?
We’ve covered a wide range of critical tips designed to help any ecommerce organisation achieve success, growth, and profitability. However, if you are still struggling to gain traction, we can help. We invite you to call us on 01 808 1301 to learn more about our services and how they can help your organisation thrive.