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Top tips for increasing sales on your ecommerce site

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17 min read

Retail, in general, is a roller coaster of an industry. Everyone knows that many retail businesses hit “black” due to holiday shopping trends — there’s a reason the day after Thanksgiving was initially called Black Friday. Depending on your niche, you might experience a different fluctuation; maybe people are more likely to buy something from your business during the spring or summer months, for example.

And retail sales rise and fall on both bigger and smaller trends, too. A look at retail sales in the U.S. over the past eight years shows a steady increase — as expected in any somewhat healthy economy — until 2020.

A look at retail sales in the U.S. over the past eight years shows a steady increase until 2020

Suddenly, the forecast is around $50 billion short of the previous year due to COVID-19. After 2020, the forecast begins to climb again each year.

Fads, seasons, local events or tourism, and new products on the market are all things that can impact the scope of your sales, whether you’re a physical store, ecommerce store, or both. Launches and growth can also affect your revenue and sales.

Luckily, the right tools and strategies can help your business become consistent, increasing your sales and revenue as much as possible within the greater picture of trends. Some of those tools include creating and maintaining a robust ecommerce store and investing in online marketing. Discover how to boost your online sales with proven tips and tools in four categories of marketing strategies below.


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4 Categories of Strategies for Increasing Ecommerce Sales

You have many options to increase sales and support stability as you ride the online retail roller-coaster. Most of them fall into one of several main categories. This article concentrates on four common categories that can help you scale your online store and increase ecommerce sales. Here is an overview of each of the strategies that we will cover in more detail later.

1. Site experience strategies.

Customer experience is important. Around a third of customers just need one bad experience to write your brand off, and a whopping 92% said they wouldn’t keep buying from a company after two or three bad experiences. Ensure consumers have a good experience on your ecommerce site by paying attention to important factors, such as page design, quality images, easy-to-use customer service options, simple shopping cart procedures, and strong site architecture.

For example, Clarks offers a brand-appropriate, friendly, and visually pleasing site from the moment you land on the homepage. Attention to these types of details really makes a difference in ecommerce sales numbers.

Clarks offers a brand-appropriate, friendly, and visually pleasing site from the moment you land on the homepage.

2. Website traffic strategies.

A website traffic strategy refers to the efforts that help drive new customers to your online store. They include many efforts, such as search engine optimization, PPC and other ads, and starting a blog to publish long-form content and expand your reach. In short, these are all the organic and paid methods by which you ensure people can find you online and at the right time in their buying journeys.

3. Email marketing strategies.

Other than your website, your email list is one of the few ecommerce marketing tools you have control over. For example, you don’t own the content on social pages and have very limited control over search engine rankings. That makes email marketing an important method to cultivate, as you’ll have access to consumers even if other doors are closed to you. Plus, email drives a lot of ROI — close to 60% of marketers say it’s the marketing tool with the biggest return for them.

Bon-Ton department store email marketing strategy

4. Social Strategies.

Just because you don’t own social platforms doesn’t mean you can’t put them to work for you. Social media is where many people spend much of their online time, so it’s important to position yourself to meet consumers where they are. Social strategies include using these platforms to communicate with consumers, post advertisements, partner with influencers, and even drive sales.

Gillette Facebook Page

Ecommerce Site Experience Strategies

People care about how your site functions and looks, and you should care about what they think. Customer experience on your site can lead to conversions or not. For example, consider the fact that most people will wait a maximum of 6 to 10 seconds for a page to load before abandoning your site; a 1-second delay can reduce your conversion rate by 7%. It might not sound like much, but if you’re making $10,000 a day, a 1-second delay can drop your ecommerce sales by more than a quarter-million dollars per year.

But page speed is only one aspect of customer experience. In addition to ensuring your ecommerce site is speedy, consider adopting some of these other tips.

1. High-quality product photos.

Whether people choose to shop online or are forced to go a digital route due to limited local resources or a pandemic, they still want their shopping experience to work for them. In most cases, that means being able to see the product in as realistic and high-quality a representation as possible. Adding photos to your product pages that helps a person understand the exact nature — the color, size, and features — of a product is important.

Consider the extensive product pages from BigCommerce client Hush Puppies. Consumers can view shoes in large, detailed photographs. There are also multiple images to provide a look at the footwear from every angle as well as close-ups of important details.

Hush Puppies provides extensive product pages so consumers can view shoes in large, detailed photographs.

Some tips for using photographs and images to increase online sales include:

2. Simple checkout process.

According to Statista, cart abandonment rates ranged from 67% to 96%, depending on the industry, for the month of March 2020.

According to Statista, cart abandonment rates ranged from 67% to 96%, depending on the industry, for the month of March 2020.

Ecommerce stores in the fashion industry, for example, experienced cart abandonment 90% of the time.

That means the majority of potential customers are walking away before they make a purchase, but after they put something in the cart. Common reasons people abandon carts include complex checkout processes, surprise shipping costs or other fees, and an inability to use the payment method they prefer.

Here are some things you can do to simplify the checkout process.

Review the streamlined, distraction-free checkout page at Firewire Surfboards to look at a great page designed to reduce cart abandonment.

Firewire Surfboards distraction-free checkout page

When you’re considering your checkout pages, make sure they work on mobile devices, too. In fact, take time to ensure your entire ecommerce site performs well on mobile. More people use mobile devices than desktop computers or laptops to browse the internet, and that includes shopping online, so without viable responsive design, you’re missing out on a lot of customers.

Kohler Collection responsive design website

3. Make the most out of customer reviews.

What if the product doesn’t live up to the description? What if the money spent is wasted? Is this really the right toy/shirt/kitchen gadget for the needs at hand? These are just some of the questions that can keep shoppers from making a purchase on your page. After all, they can’t touch the product to find out for themselves, and you’re admittedly a bit biased.

What both new and existing customers can do is find out what other people think of the product. Around 75% of consumers don’t trust advertising. But the majority do trust online reviews — or at least the overall consensus of online reviews. Consumers want to see at least 40 or so reviews before they trust the average rating on a product.

Display customer reviews right on the product pages to help boost conversion rates. You can put a couple of testimonials or quotes from reviews on the page, but don’t forget that the total number of reviews and the average star rating is typically what is most important to potential customers.

Check out the way Ivory places the star rating, number of reviews, and links to reviews in a key location on its pages. Consumers can even hover over the rating to see how the numbers break down.

Check out how Ivory places the star rating, number of reviews, and links to reviews in a key location on its pages.

4. Boost trust on your site.

Ensuring customers have access to what others are saying about your service or products isn’t the only way to boost trust. You can also use other on-site tactics to help consumers trust you and thus increase ecommerce sales.

You want to increase trust at every possible stage in your funnel. For example, make sure you’re as authentic and consistent on social media as you can be. Wherever you show up online, be appropriately transparent, too. That can mean doing the work to make sure the keywords you’re targeting with online content actually lines up with the user intent, but it can also mean being present on your site to assist new and existing customers.

Here are a few other great ways to boost trust on your site to increase ecommerce sales:

Bliss has small badges on its ecommerce store footer to ensure customers that products are free from parabens and made with cruelty-free processes.

Rosenthal uses badges to illustrate payment methods, shipping methods, site security, and manufacturer partnerships.

5. Use personalization.

A Monetate survey asked businesses whether personalization was a critical factor in their success, and 94% of respondents said yes. That’s not surprising, considering most consumers are fully enmeshed in a Netflix culture that serves up constant suggestions based on past purchases and other behavior.

Personalization is a great way to increase sales on your ecommerce platform for two reasons. First, it demonstrates that you care about the consumer and want to develop a long relationship with them, and that builds trust. Second, it cuts through the noise to provide the consumer with the most likely product that will persuade them to make a purchase.

Here are a few tips for getting more personal with your marketing for ecommerce:

Site Traffic Strategies

Before you can worry about customer experience in your ecommerce store, though, you have to have a marketing strategy to get people there. That’s where site traffic strategies come in. There are numerous ways to do this, but two of the most common and cost-effective are detailed below.

1. SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It refers to the efforts on and off your site that help you rank high enough in search results for people to find you when they conduct relevant queries. Since around 85% of people start their shopping journey in Google and other search engines, this is simply not a step you can afford to skip for marketing in ecommerce. If you’re not showing in the search engines, you’re simply not going to be making the kind of sales numbers you want for an online store.

Search engine optimization

Here are a few tips for creating strong SEO:

2. Remarketing campaigns.

Remarketing campaigns are a type of online advertising strategy. They use cookies and data, such as IP addresses, to understand when a certain user has visited your pages and shown interest but hasn’t actually finalized the purchase. You can use ad technology to remarket to that person, ensuring ads for your ecommerce site or relevant products show up for them as they browse elsewhere on the internet.

While it sounds like it might annoy people, carefully targeted remarketing can actually be helpful for consumers. It reminds them they wanted to make a purchase and may even remind them where they were looking after they have forgotten.

Email Marketing Strategies

The average ROI for email marketing gets talked about a lot because it’s generally an epic number. According to Hubspot, one of the latest numbers for average email marketing ROI in 2020 is 3,800%. That’s right: $38 for every $1 you spend.

Before you can engage in this lucrative marketing strategy, though, you have to ensure you’ve built a healthy email list. Some tips for encouraging sign-ups include:

Once you do have a robust email list, put it to work with some of the tips below.

1. Send welcome emails.

As soon as someone signs up for your email list, send a welcome email. This is a personal touch that can result in some immediate sales and also sets the stage for a positive relationship with your customer.

2. Follow up for abandoned carts.

You already saw that abandoned carts account for a huge portion of online carts. But you can turn that large percentage into an opportunity with cart abandonment emails. These are messages that remind people they were shopping for something on your site, and tactfully suggest that they might want to complete the sales process.

3. Upsell in your emails.

Good sales strategies typically include an upsell somewhere. Emails can be a great place to do this. If someone has purchased a product, you can send emails that offer accessories or relevant items. If someone has left an item in their cart, you can send an email that explains how another item might be a better deal or more to their liking.

Social Strategies

Millions of people flock to social media on a daily basis. They talk to friends, catch up on the news, and get product recommendations from brands all within their favorite apps. The average user spends more than two hours a day on social media — and around half of that time is spent on these apps.

Ecommerce companies that want to drive up sales numbers simply have to consider how to use social media to their advantage. Here are just a few strategies you might try.

1. Partner with influencers.

Close to a third of people who are influenced online and make a purchase, point to celebrities and other social influences as the force that swayed them. While confidence in celebrity endorsements has waned in recent years, due in part to a growing number of scandals among those populations, organic influencers still have a lot to offer.

These are people with strong voices and loyal followings who are organically part of the communities they represent. If you can get these people to talk about your ecommerce company, you can typically see increasing sales numbers. Here are just two ways to get influencers to speak up about your products.

Offer discount codes through influencers

2. Use social media for customer service.

These platforms offer a great opportunity for customer service. The customers are there already, and there are powerful built-in chat functions you can leverage. Find ways not just to connect with customers on platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but to have your staff answer questions, respond to concerns, and even help manage orders.

Things to Consider for Effectively Scaling Ecommerce Sales

Before you start investing in some of these ecommerce sales and marketing strategies, make sure you are ready for the potential influx of new customers. Here are a few things you should consider to ensure you can effectively scale your sales.

1. You’ll need to invest in technology.

Test your platform to ensure it can handle increased traffic and orders. Find potential bottlenecks and ask yourself and your staff whether you can invest in technology to automate or quicken those processes. Using technology to standardize, automate, and strengthen all the most important functions for your site — include shopping cards, payment processes, and integrations between front and back systems — ensures you’re ready to scale.

2. Should establish standardized processes.

It’s not enough to make sure technology is in place. Everyone in your organization needs to know what they are responsible for, how to make the technology work correctly, and how to address various customer service issues as they arise. From order taking and inventory management to shipping and returns, make sure you have a standardized process for everything.

3. Always measure.

Finally, ensure you have a way to capture and understand the analytics related to your business. If you don’t know what your sales numbers are today, how can you know if your marketing efforts improved them? While retail certainly does exist in an organic ebb and flow, you also need to be aware of how your traffic, conversion, and sales figures are trending. If the numbers are unexpectedly low, you may need to investigate to find problematic areas you can address so you can continue to scale.

Conclusion

Ecommerce isn’t always easy. It comes with many of the same challenges that traditional retail does. But when you’re prepared to do the work and show up consistently and appropriately in marketing, you can increase sales over time and grow your business.

Originally published Jan 13, 2021, updated May 22, 2021

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