e-Commerce is a highly competitive industry, with a 2017 Statista study estimating that United States retail e-commerce sales will reach $461 billion by the end of 2018 and $603 billion by 2021. To help your business capitalize on this growth, we asked high-performing online sellers to share their tips that aspiring e-commerce business owners can follow.
Here are 27 online selling tips from top producers.
1. Build a Proper Foundation for Your e-Commerce Business
Chad Rubin, Co-founder & CEO, Skubana
When it comes to running an online store, you need to build the proper foundation. Focus on systemizing the operation, doing away with low-value activities. Any repetitive task that you are doing consistently, try to find a technology to replace it. If a technology can’t replace it, try outsourcing that so you can focus on growth and building an online brand. It takes some recalibration of how you run your e-commerce business, but you need to focus on high-value activities that are going to make you the most money. For example, building high-quality product pages with unique content, powerful photography with value propositions or just building deeper relationships with your vendors and exploding your stock-keeping unit (SKU) count.
2. Personalize Your Marketing to Increase Your Sales
Alexander Bickov, Digital Product Designer, Capsulink
Using personalized marketing — messages and actions tailored to the individual visitor — is one of the best things you can do to turn a scrappy online store into a sustainable business. In fact, increasing personalization in more channels can increase overall consumer spending by up to 500 percent. The most certain way to achieve finely tuned personalization is by using site visitor’s data. Gain the knowledge of your user’s purchase behavior as well as their location, devices, language and time zone settings to tailor your online content accordingly.
Some quick and easy ways to start personalizing is by using branded smart links that showcase your brand name and lead customers to personalized content on your website. Tailor your calls to action and product recommendations to the individual customer’s interests and personalize your email campaigns to address customers by their name and according to their previous experience with your online store.
3. Develop a Lean Fulfillment and Logistic Process
George Plummer, CEO, StarShipIT
Selling your products to customers successfully is only half the challenge. You need to have a solid plan in place for how you’re going to deliver their purchases. Choosing the right shipping method is crucial as well as offering multiple and flexible shipping options tailored to customers’ delivery speed and cost preferences.
- The number one cause of cart abandonment is hidden delivery costs at check out
- Shipping options are no longer a privilege as consumers expect the ability to choose their preference
- The returns process is the number one reason shoppers refuse to buy online
- 98 percent of shoppers track their packages
Earlier this year, PwC published a report that shows that consumers are willing to pay more for same-day or faster delivery. More than 40 percent of online shoppers said they would pay an extra charge for same-day delivery and a quarter of respondents said they would dip into their wallets to be sure of getting their packages within a one- or two-hour window of their choosing. However, retailers should first look at their fulfillment and logistic processes because only once they have good systems in place will they be able to make the transition to faster delivery services.
4. Gather Customer Feedback to Grow Your Business
Helen Golubeva, Marketing Manager & Storyteller, X-Cart
Asking your customers the right questions is probably the most effective strategy that can help you quickly identify what your online store needs and define a clear strategy. Stats show that approximately 71 percent of consumers do not mind leaving a review for a business when asked. So, keep it in mind that you should not hide yourself behind the bush silently waiting for your customers to share their thoughts with you. Gear yourself with a voice recorder and ask, ask, ask.
5. Improve Your Business’ Off-site Visibility
Shudeep Chandrasekhar, Chief Opinion Officer, 1redDrop.com
Even when they’re not actively shopping, your customers need to be reminded of your presence periodically. Many marketers will tell you that remarketing is a great way to do this, but I find it creepy and intrusive. When I’m searching for information on how my IBM shares are doing this morning, I don’t want to see an ad offering me a 20 percent discount the sneakers I briefly looked at last week on somewhere.com! I prefer a softer approach like a verified email opt-in, which yields a much healthier return on investment. After all, why communicate with someone who doesn’t really want to hear from you?
6. Offer a Limited-time Promo Code and Mention It in Your Marketing Emails
Jack Born, Founder, Deadline Funnel
Have you noticed that most people won’t purchase from your online store on their first visit? Try offering a promo code as an incentive for new visitors to join your mailing list. The key is to make your promo code only valid for five to seven days. Have your email software send daily tips, ideas and inspiration showing how your products can improve their lives in interesting ways. On the last day, send at least two emails reminding them about the deadline to use the promo code. You can expect to see a consistent increase in visitors joining your list and making a purchase within the first seven days of signing up.
7. Offer Free Shipping
Chandler Sterling, Founder & CEO, California Beard Company
Making a sale online is incredibly difficult because the customer doesn’t get to interact with the product before purchasing. Your goal should be to reduce as much friction as possible on the path to the checkout page. I recommend always offering free shipping. On top of that, add another incentive like a free gift or a charitable donation. For California Beard Company, we started out by giving a free branded towel with a customer’s first purchase. Now, we plant a tree for every product sold. These are just some ideas for reducing friction on the way to the shopping cart that should result in more conversions.
8. Focus on User Experience
Marc-Andre Seguin, Licensed Attorney and Co-Founding Partner, Exeo Attorneys
To be successful online, business owners need to focus on a single thing: user experience. Is the user going to understand the product? The actionable items? How to pay you? Are the features clear and easy to identify and read? Are the links, sections and subsections of your online product or service easy to understand? Finally, how easily can your prospect get in touch with you if he or she has a question or is willing to proceed? In this day and age, most leads expect instant answers. Make sure you treat others the same way you would expect Amazon to treat you and things will fall into place.
9. Offer a Carefully Planned Customer Service When Selling Custom Products
Jess Perna, Owner, Jess Perna Studio
I draw custom made and premade art. The most important thing we do is offer carefully planned customer service. In offering custom-made work, you must be very clear with customers what they will and won’t receive. Offering premade items that can be purchased with a viewing and description is very different than offering to create something that does not yet exist. The best way is to have a knowledgeable person speak on the phone with the customer. Keeping false expectations to a minimum leads to much better customer satisfaction, which is what we have achieved.
10. Hire an Expert to Improve Your Digital Marketing
Marc Prosser, Co-founder, Fit Small Business
A great way to advertise your e-commerce business is to use social media to show pictures of your featured products. Reach out to your target market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with Hibu, a digital marketing solution that helps you create, manage and monitor your social media campaigns. Click here to get in touch with a representative today.
11. Master the Three Key Elements of Online Selling
Shannon Roddy, Amazon Specialist, Marketplace Seller Courses
One of the most important things a brand owner needs to understand in order to be successful at running an online storefront is the trifecta of distribution enforcement, listing optimization and brand protection. In order to control the customer experience that, it is essential that brands have distribution agreements in place specifying where sellers can and cannot sell their products and should include antidiversion language and also minimum advertised pricing (MAP). Brands will also want to sell directly on as many platforms as possible (Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and other sites) in order to create the most optimized listings that, in turn, affect conversion rate and, ultimately, sales and long-term growth. Lastly, brands should have registered trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and enforce the use of their trademark strictly to protect the equity of their brand long-term.
This trifecta has been the key to success for many small-, medium- and large-sized businesses as well as a downfall to those that simply ignored them.
12. Apply Competitive Benchmarking as Part of Your Strategy
Kent Lewis, President & Founder, Anvil Media, Inc.
Beyond the standard title/header tag keyword optimization, we also utilize a few different “white hat” fundamental SEO strategies to maximize rankings for e-commerce websites, including competitive benchmarking. The best place to look for inbound links is competitive websites. By conducting an inbound link analysis, you can identify which sites are desirable (high domain authority) and likely to provide a link to your business.
13. Create a Sense of Urgency
Dave Hermansen, CEO, Store Coach
The online world is not all that different from the offline world. One of the first things you learn in sales, no matter where or what you are selling, is to create a sense of urgency. Adding sales banners to websites that did not previously have them has always at least doubled our conversions. We always have a sale going on, whether our prices really change or not, and it is always for a limited time. The time limit usually coincides with the average price of products we are selling on any particular website. If they are relatively inexpensive impulse-buy products, our sale is usually for as little as a day and as much as a week.
For much more expensive products where you know people are going to have to think twice or at least talk with their significant other, we’ll run a sale for as long as a month but usually like to have it run for a two-week window.
14. Hold Giveaway Events on Facebook
Ian Aronovich, Co-founder & CEO, GovernmentAuctions.org
One of the best and most effective marketing tips for online services that I can give is to hold a free giveaway event on Facebook that offers freebies to participants. Giveaways are literally the best thing since sliced bread because they allow a company to gain followers and fans, and those people can later be converted into paying customers if done right. These contests not only help us gain exposure, but they also help sell our service and, on average, each giveaway we hold gives us roughly 500 new social media followers and approximately 40 new customers.
While Facebook giveaways do not work as well in generating immediate sales compared to other marketing tactics, we can use the awareness that our fan page creates for our brand to build an innovative sales funnel. So, while Facebook giveaways make fewer direct sales, they still help us build a community that we can market to during a longer period of time.
15. Find Ways to Reduce Friction in Your Sales Process
Devin Stagg, e-Commerce & Marketing Manager, Pupford
I believe the most effective and worthwhile optimization you can implement for your online store is reducing friction. That can take many forms, but the concept is easy to convey. Any potential friction or barrier to your customer checking out on your store should be eliminated. That can include high shipping costs, long shipping times and difficult checkout options like only accepting PayPal. Think of the big hitters like Amazon and Etsy where the checkout process is seamless, quick and efficient. Do your best to replicate that.
16. Scale Your Sales Strategy with Ads
Stacy Caprio, Founder, Accelerated Growth Marketing
My number one selling tip for e-commerce stores would be to scale with ads, specifically platform-native, product-specific ads like Google Shopping, Amazon product listing ads (PLAs) and Etsy’s keyword-based ads. These methods often see high returns on investment and profitable returns.
17. Sell on Amazon
Irina Balyurko, MBA, Owner, SellerLadder
One of the best online selling tips is to use the power of Amazon. For a product-based business, not having a presence on Amazon is a mistake. Amazon is not only a platform to generate sales but an incredible tool to establish credibility. This makes it possible to have an opportunity to introduce your brand to more than 100 million loyal Amazon Prime customers.
18. Describe Your Products with as Much Detail as Possible
Damien Buxton, Director, Midas Creative
When adding products to your website, try and be as descriptive as possible. This will not only help your website rank better in search engines but it also gives a customer more information to decide whether to buy. If you’re selling the same goods that other companies are also selling, make your descriptions as unique as possible. If you all use the same manufacturers’ descriptions, you will all be the same. Even adding a product review video will give you an edge.
19. Optimize Your Website with Strong Keyword Research
Jameson Slattery, Vice President of Global Marketing, Colorescience
Conducting keyword research and building a page based on semantically related keywords that have significant monthly search volume is important for optimizing and your online business. Keyword research allows companies to know how users are searching and enables them to create pages that target specific search strings. There are free tools like the Chrome extension Keywords Everywhere and paid tools companies can invest in. Another great tip is to look at keyword difficulty over sheer monthly search volume. For example, “cute Christmas gifts for mom” is more likely to be easier to rank for than “Christmas gifts.” Conducting proper keyword research helps businesses organize their websites strategically and ensure a long-term, organic traffic strategy.
20. Influence Emotions
Jim Vernon, CEO, RockHer
Selling was always more about emotion-driven persuasion than pure facts. People these days seem overly concerned about perfecting the statistics on their websites. More so than they are about finding ways to influence customers.
I’m not suggesting you stop improving your conversion, I’m suggesting you improve it with emotions. Create a message that would evoke the emotions you want your customers to associate with your product.
What we did with our website is introduced consistent imagery that creates an association between our products and the joy of making a proposal.
21. Develop The Unique Selling Proposition
Natalie Andersen, Co-founder, Get Good Grade
A unique selling proposition lets you stand out from the crowd and positively distinguish your business. You can’t build a successful marketing campaign if you don’t know what makes your product better than the others. You need to understand customer pain points and address them in every piece of content you use online: from call-to-actions on your landing page to your email newsletters and text ads. Client reviews can be a great source of insights to develop the USP. Find negative remarks about the products or services in your niche and convert them into advantages.
Everybody loves a good giveaway. Online businesses can do well in making it a regular event to offer giveaways to your customers. It can be tricky, however, if your giveaway strategy is not exciting enough for your customers to participate. Stay away from half-baked ideas with these proven contest ideas to improve your sales and build customer loyalty.
Building confidence in your products can be improved by getting customers to leave product reviews. The influence of a good product review can increase your sales significantly, so it’s important to encourage this on your website. Know 10 ways to get your customers to write reviews for your products in this article.
If your e-commerce website isn’t easily accessible via mobile phones, chances are, you’re missing out on sales opportunity from customers who choose to use their mobile device. It’s not enough that you have an impressive homepage. You should also make sure that your customers can enjoy the same customer-friendly features that they enjoy on their desktop PC or laptop. Have a look through this list of professional-looking, responsive website templates for your e-commerce business.
Adding a chatbot or a live chat box to your website is becoming popular, mainly because of the role it takes in improving conversion and sales. This article introduces to you the basics of chatbots and then shows you how to maximize the potential of chatbots as a customer service tool for your online business.
It’s not surprising that every successful e-commerce business has a blog. Aside from being effective for search engine optimization and establishing your brand, content marketing is also more cost-effective in comparison to pay-per-click ads and social media campaigns. Read how blogs contribute to your e-commerce business and ways to get started in this article.
27. Offer a Retail Financing and Bill Me Later Payment Option on Your Website
Krista Fabregas, Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
There are already a number of popular payment options on e-commerce websites but offering your retail financing and bill me later can increase your sales even more. These two strategies let your customers purchase your products now and pay for them later. If you would like to know how this works and apply this to your own e-commerce website, read this guide that explains how it works and how you can start offering it to your customers.
Over to You
It takes strategy and persistence to keep up with the big players in the e-commerce industry. Try out some of the tips from these top producers and start getting a larger share of e-commerce sales.
Did we miss out on your favorite selling online tips and advice? Share it with us in the comments.