5 easy ways to increase e-commerce sales

November 17, 2016 Francis Dignan

The world of e-commerce is incredibly competitive with every company wanting to increase sales. The main challenge is putting this into action.

With so many sites selling so many overlapping products and services, how do you stand out from the crowd and boost your revenue? Here are 5 ideas which could take your business to the next level.


1. Advertise

Sounds obvious, but so many e-shops and online business think that setting up the website is the main piece of the work, and that the audience will find them whatever happens. 

It’s simply not true. No matter how great your SEO is, or how big your brand, you need to get it in front of your intended audience in as many ways as possible, and the quickest and most effective way to do this is to advertise.

Whether that’s on TV, in magazines, with banner ads or native ads, you need to be doing something. If possible, a mix of a number of different kinds of advertising is ideal.

For e-commerce businesses, banner and native ads make most sense. These online ads can bring traffic directly to your website, and you can easily measure how successful they have been, and optimise them on that basis.

Banner ads are also great for increasing brand awareness, so even if your audience aren’t clicking through on the ad straight away, you’re still working your way into their thoughts, which makes them more likely to come back to make a purchase later.

Businesses using banners in conjunction with a programmatic platform, which allows them to retarget specific demographics, tend to note a huge increase in both conversion and revenue, with some reports saying retargeted users are 70% more likely to convert.


2. Upsell and Cross Sell

The e-commerce businesses that use these techniques effectively have seen that it can account for over 30% of their revenue, which is massive! The reasoning behind this is relatively simple though.

If a user has already committed to making a purchase on your site, you’ve already done a fantastic job. You’ve attracted them, built a great level of trust, and taken them through a pleasurable buying journey. Why stop there?

If they’re at the point where the wallet is open and the card is out, you need to think about ways you can provide your customer with more ideas on what to purchase, as this is a really straightforward, reliable way to increase your own revenue.

It’s a win win. Your business makes more, and the customer is happy as they have been provided with ideas for products they want or need, maybe without even realising it

Upselling is the most simple method out of the two, as you’re just giving the user a suggestion for an improved version of what they already intend to buy.

For example, if they’re about to buy a home cinema system, you can recommend an alternative which could cost slightly more, but has reviewed better on your website or on reputable review websites.

For you, it means an extra bit of revenue. For the customer, it means they’re getting an even better product, without much more of a financial commitment. As we said, win win.

Cross selling can be a little more complicated, as you’re asking the customer to buy additional products that compliment their original choice well. If you do it right though, it can again be a great source of additional income.

Amazon do a great job with this. Whenever you’re looking at an item, they show a few other products, and show how much it would cost to buy them together. The best part of this is that these aren’t the suggestions by Amazon, but rather them showing you that the customers who bought the product you’re looking at also bought these other products.

This, in some ways, carries more credibility. Rather than a predictive algorithm, or an Amazon employee (who may have vastly different tastes to you) making suggestions, it’s showing you that many, many other people have made the same purchases, and there’s a certain feeling of security in that.

It’s easier to trust a group of people than it is to trust an individual that you don’t know, or a machine. Think about this when you try and cross-sell too. What have other customers done? Which products go perfectly together? Get it right, and you should once again see a boost in sales.

3. Optimise the buyer’s journey

Imagine doing some shopping at one of the new stores in town. It looks interesting, and the brand looks like one you might like. You walk in, and it lives up to your expectations. You start to pick the products off the shelves, filling up your basket, fully ready to make the short walk to the checkout.

But wait! There’s a hurdle right in front of you. And another one. And another! You have a basket full though, so it’ll be worth it. You clear the hurdles, and make it to the checkout. What? You can’t make a purchase until you fill out a huge form to become a member? This is asking too much...so you understandably drop the basket, and leave the store.

This just wouldn’t happen, so why is it so common in online shopping? There are hundreds, if not thousands of poorly optimised e-commerce sites, where the number of steps to make a simple purchase is huge. Then there are the response times, where it takes an age to move from one page to the next. The required sign-up is so often a feature too, and one that can turn away 25% of customers…

Don’t be one of these websites. Make the buying journey as smooth as possible. Allow one time guests to make a purchase without signing up. Optimise performance of your site, and make sure it works on all platforms, especially as now that more than 80% of smartphone users are happy to use them to shop.

It’s also a good idea to let the user know how far they are through the journey through a progress bar. If they know there are 4 steps, they’re far more likely to complete them than if they are just faced with screen after screen, unsure as to when they’ll actually be able to buy what they want.

A well thought out, simple, optimised buying journey can be a great way to increase your revenues, as well as massively reducing the number of abandoned shopping carts.


4. Talk to your customers

What’s the best way to find out the wants and needs of your customers? The answer is simple, really. You ask them!

There are so many ways to communicate with your audience, and you need to try and utilise as many as possible. This is all part of providing great customer service, and a great customer experience.

Live chat is huge with users, and over 90% think it’s helpful, with a further 63% saying that it would play a major part in them returning to a site. Of course, it’s quite labour intensive, as you need someone available basically all of the time, but it’s worth it. It means if the customer has a burning question about a product, you are there to answer, and ease their uncertainties. If they can get an instant answer on your site, and it’s what they wanted to hear, they’re likely to make the purchase there and then.

Live chat isn’t the only option that will benefit you either. It’s always a great idea to have a blog, and content that your audience will find interesting. You should have an effective email strategy in place too, which can be great for marketing to your existing customers. You can make offers based on their previous purchases or behaviours on your site.

Also give your users a space to give feedback. It’s a two-way relationship, so make sure there’s somewhere for them to let you know what they want from your site. This, again, helps to build trust, which is so important when it comes to online shopping. These open channels of communication will ensure more customers use your site time and again, and will give your sales a healthy boost.


5. Testing, testing

The only surefire way to know that you’re doing a good job with every aspect of your website is to test. Specifically, A/B testing is a huge help here.

This applies to everything, from the ads you produce to the copy on the site, to the images. Test two versions at the same time, see which performs best for a set period, then move forward with that iteration.

Of course, ideally you continue to test all the time, and consistently improve your work, but in practice this can be difficult. With your banner ads, at least, BannerFlow makes the process easy, but you should try it on your actual website too.

This means that your customers are consistently seeing the best you have to offer, and you can rest assured that your website and ads are converting at the highest possible rate.


In Conclusion…

Running an e-commerce site is hard work, and it’s work you need to be rewarded for. Following these simple tips mean that you’re more likely to stand with your head above your competitors, which will bring more users to your site, and ultimately, increase your revenues. You’ve already put the effort in to start the business, so now is the time to really make it shine.

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The most effective ways to advertise your e-commerce business
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