Jul11
Maximizing Ecommerce Sales

Maximizing Ecommerce Sales

Posted by Neil Cumins

It’s a sad fact that two thirds of online shopping carts end up abandoned. From unreliable ecommerce functionality and stealth charges to poor database management and inept customer service, there are numerous reasons why a customer might not complete a transaction.

While it’s impossible to eliminate some basket abandonments (like a change of heart or a lost internet connection), there are plenty of steps online retailers can take to convert browsing into buying…

These are ten of the best ways to maximize ecommerce sales:

  1.     Optimize SEO. Most customers find new sites through search engines, so ecommerce sales often result from SEO. Use every tool available to boost keyword usage and long tails, from image tags to rich text snippets and meta tags. Research competitor keyword usage and include popular terms on every page. Upload weekly blogs, maintain social media activity, and build reciprocal links with other sites.
  2.     Focus on security. It’s a top priority for consumers nowadays, so make sure security issues are prominently covered. Offer SSL certificates and secure payment gateways, ensuring PCI compliance for onsite payments (as opposed to outsourcing checkout functionality). Upload a privacy policy that explains what happens with customer information, and ensure databases are fully protected against theft or hacking.
  3.     Streamline the site. Efficient ecommerce sales sites should load quickly, particularly on mobile devices. Strip out unnecessary HTML code or plugins, remove bandwidth-hungry attributes like cinemagraphs, and prevent video content from auto-playing. Graphics are often the largest component of a webpage, so compress them. Expandable thumbnails on product pages are ideal for smartphone and tablet users.
  4.     Offer a USP. Ecommerce sales will be worth an estimated $435bn in America alone this year. There’s plenty of established competition nowadays, so try to undercut competitors on prices and postage rates. Outstanding service can elevate a brand above its rivals, and offering exclusive products or complementary ranges of goods and services can also leverage an advantage. A sense of humor can also work wonders!
  5.     Provide plenty of information. There are no sales assistants waiting to be approached on a website, and no physical products to interact with. Indeed, our senses of touch, smell and taste are entirely redundant online. It’s therefore crucial to provide detailed product descriptions, plus 360-degree tours or photos from every angle. Honest reviews by existing customers may also persuade wavering audiences to go ahead with a purchase.
  6.     Use multiple stock providers. Out of stock items could mean a potential customer is lost forever. Ecommerce sites relying on dropshipping should have multiple suppliers, while automated stock reordering reduces any risk of ranges selling out. Use real-time databases on customer-facing portals to indicate live stock levels, and never accept an order for something that’s not presently available.
  7.     Be honest about pricing. Don’t hide state taxes or overseas postage costs away until the last minute, since this is a leading cause of cart abandonment. Dropshipping and bulk buying can slash headline costs, but be clear about additional charges, which should ideally be levied at cost price. Some people balk at credit card fees, so consider accepting PayPal or even bitcoin.
  8.     Simplify checkout procedures. Don’t force people to register before making a purchase, but encourage them to do so later with repeat-custom incentives. Store cookies for ease of identification, and ensure a forgotten password can be easily reset. Accelerate checkout speeds by removing unnecessary fields from the billing, shipping and payment pages.
  9.     Go above and beyond. Look for ways to improve and enhance the buying process. Publicize a no-quibble refunds policy, and point out that pre-paid address labels are included in every delivery for easy returns. Suggest complementary products, which can increase order sizes and profit margins. Offer services like product wrapping or accompanying gift cards, which can easily add a few extra dollars to every order.
  10. Keep in touch. The best source of custom is from satisfied existing clients. Request email addresses for order management, and send periodic messages with exclusive previews or discounts to draw people back. Enable one-click reordering (even from order confirmation emails, which are often easier to locate than login details). Personalize messages with people’s names, and send curated ‘you might like’ ideas.

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