Retail in the Amazon era ain’t for sissies. Shifts in consumer buying habits challenge both brick and mortar stores and online stores alike. Even with support from national campaigns to buy local, preserve downtowns and support independent retailers, competing with the behemoth requires dedication, creativity and resilience. Not to mention patience.
If your online store is underperforming, review these 20 eCommerce pointers.
Silence isn’t golden … meager store traffic
- Don’t ask, won’t know: Create a simple online survey to learn which products your customers are interested in, while also increasing awareness of your eCommerce store. Publicize the survey on your social media channels, website and through your email marketing lists. Create buzz with an online store credit prize for a random winner — and then promote the winner for additional visibility.
- Different strokes for different folks: Have a brick and mortar presence also? Cross-channel promotions can lift your sales in both channels. Activate online promotions when your retail store is closed and reward in-store purchases with a coupon towards an online purchase. Advertise your online store in your shop window and at point of sale.
- Beat the social drum (consistently): Apply a disciplined approach to drive store traffic using your social channels. Start with frequent and consistently scheduled product-focused posts to build awareness, then utilize social analytics to identify the best-performing posts to boost or promote. Determine the ideal demographic and adjust your ad targeting accordingly. Avoid general messaging like “shop our online store” — instead, create experiential posts that illustrate products in use, demonstrating how they fit into your customers’ lives.
- Play games: Try a playful approach like a scavenger hunt with answers on your eCommerce site. Share in-store and on social and email channels to generate participation. Reward the winner with a discount code for the online store. After the contest ends, capture the long tail with posts that highlight the winner and their product.
- Roll out the red carpet: Welcome all new email subscribers with a limited duration coupon for the online store. Set up an autoresponder to send a reminder email a few days prior to expiration of the coupon.
Unproductive shopping trips … the empty carriage
- Almost, but not quite right: Once a visitor arrives in your store, you need to captivate them. Online shoppers have high expectations for product uniqueness and variety. Do you need more product depth in a particular category … other colors, sizes, varieties?
- Don’t confuse me or I’m outta here … Remember your store exit is just a swift click away. Capitalize on all available functionality to guide your shopper to the information they need. An optimal user experience is essential to keep shoppers on your store.
- Create a palpable experience: Cursory product descriptions or lack of original content can derail a sale. Offer personalized, experiential product descriptions and images that illustrate the actual product in use. Cultivate and include user-generated content — images of customers using or wearing your product.
- Details matter: Don’t hold back. Include dimensions, construction, materials and other useful specifics. A tabbed format can be an effective way to offer details without cluttering the product description. Are you offering multiple product views as well as the ability to zoom, to allow the shopper to feel confident in the product they’re about to purchase?
- Offer proof to satisfy the skeptic: Does your store include actual customer reviews and testimonials? Today’s shoppers rely heavily on the opinions of others to validate your product claims. Most shopping cart software includes a Reviews module – activate it.
Left in a huff … the abandoned shopping cart
Review your website and online store analytics to identify both which products visitors viewed or placed in their carts before abandoning as well as which page in the checkout process triggered the abandoned cart.
- Simplicity is bliss. Complicated shipping cost structures can impede completion of online sales. Use a simple flat-rate shipping model (or offer free shipping above a designated spend level) to make shipping costs a non-issue.
- Are you hiding the bad news? Online shoppers act swiftly and may abandon rather than hunting for missing or hard-to find information. Help a prospective buyer overcome indecision with highly visible links to well-crafted return policies and guarantees.
- Provide immediate gratification: Comply with the new normal. Today’s shoppers are accustomed to receiving most products within a few days; be sure your standard delivery intervals are consistent with the current market.
- Eliminate checkout confusion: Don’t creating stumbling blocks to close the sale! Offer a streamlined checkout process with simple and clear graphics that illustrate progress. Ensure the shopping cart is highly visible and include a link to continue shopping on the checkout page.
- Take advantage of the open door. Most shopping cart software includes functionality to re-market to shoppers who leave products in their cart without completing the purchase. Capitalize on this marketing intelligence to learn why — and hopefully close the sale.
Once is not enough … cultivating repeat buyers
- Embrace first-timers. Securing a new customer is the biggest hurdle. Encourage loyalty and welcome first-time buyers with a personalized thank you note and a coupon for a future purchase.
- Surprise and delight: Reinforce the personal experience by including a free trial-size sample of a product (and a hand-written note, if possible) when fulfilling orders.
- Encourage word of mouth marketing: Include a “for a friend” promo with all orders to encourage referrals and reward buyers who spread the word. Offer a credit on a future order if the friend utilizes the promo code.
- Show appreciation to buyers: With every purchase shipped, include a thank you note with a code for a credit on a future purchase. A short-interval expiration will keep your store top-of-mind and encourage swift redemption.
- Keep the conversation alive. Nudge lapsed buyers with a targeted email campaign and a short interval promotion code. Offer larger promotions for repeat purchasers within a specific period of time or over a designated spend level.
Need a partner to lead the charge or help implement your eCommerce marketing? We’re here to help.