Sunday, August 9, 2009

Boost Your eCommerce Sales

The current economic environment has been hard on both brick and mortar & online sales. But there are a few simple, yet powerful, things you could do to boost online sales and gain loyal customers.

1. Make Sure Your SSL Seal is Prominent. SSL or secure socket layer is a sign that the site is encrypted…that the information consumers enter, such as personal and credit card information, is protected. Most eCommerce sites must file for an SSL certificate from vendors such as VeriSign, GoDaddy, eTrust, TRUSTe, and others. It’s a good practice to display the vendors logo on your order page, as well as make sure in the browser window the “https” or image of a lock is present. This is a clear and comforting sign to consumers that they can order on line with confidence.

2. Encourage Online Sales vs. Other Order Mechanisms. Offer special “Internet Only Pricing” to customers. It could be a discount of 5-10%. This reduces any potential overhead costs for staffing fees such as telesales or order entry personnel.

3. Offer Free Shipping. Many eTailers already factor shipping into their published price, so when there’s a big, flashing banner next to the item saying “free shipping” it gives consumers that extra little push to move forward with the transaction. It boils down to basic psychology. Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting something for free.

4. Use Buyer Feedback To Your Advantage. Have an area on your website or next to select items that says “Customer Favorite” or “Hot Item”. Also, have some glowing customer testimonials next to the product for potential prospect to see. Consumers like to feel good about the item they are about to purchase. To see a great testimonial and knowing that others purchased the product is a validation and comforting feeling. In addition to helping the conversion, this tactic also helps reduce buyer’s remorse and product returns.

5. Advertise Products in Froogle. Froogle is a free product information platform from Google where you can post a single item or submit a data feed. Your products will appear in Google Product search and may also appear in search results, depending on keywords used.

6. Make Sure Your Product Pages are Optimized for Search Engines. After doing some keyword research on actual search behavior for your product, refine your meta description, meta keywords and title tag of your product pages. This will help consumers find your product in the organic listing of search engine results.

7. Have a Special Coupon Code Banner on Your Home Page. This is a best practice with online fashion retailers. There’s typically a banner ad on their home page stating something like, “Summer Blow Out Sale, Use Coupon Code 1234”. This is another great way to offer a special discount for your online customers that makes them feel good about the purchase. You can also encourage viral activity by having a “forward to friend” text link that opens a MSOutlook email window with the coupon or coupon code. Make sure to have some great intro copy mentioning how customers should “pass on the great savings to friends, family, and colleagues.”

8. Consider Payment Plans. For your higher ticket items, consider setting up extended payment plans that allows customers to pay for an item over a few payments. If an item is let’s say, $200, you might want to offer a flex pay of “6 easy payments of $33.33” that is conveniently auto-billed to their credit card. Just be diligent when calculating your payment prices as well as creating your return/refund policy for these items. The general rule is that your actual production costs/hard costs should be covered in the first 1-3 payments.

Remember to keep testing methods that help improve sales and drive prospects to your storefront. Make note of when you implement new tactics, such as the above, and then after a month of being live, compare sales results year-over-year to see if you found the sweet spot in your eCommerce efforts. I’m confident that you will see an improvement in online sales.
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