Online competition is fierce. Cutthroat. Brutal. It makes The Hunger Games look like a friendly game of dodgeball.
Everyone is fighting to win eyeballs and hearts and dollars and clicks. Hulking beasts like Amazon and Wal-Mart are constantly cutting and undercutting sellers. If you don’t have a specific sales plan in place, there’s a good chance you’ll lose sales to those who do.
Through trial and error, I’ve learned some helpful practices to trim the fat and make the customer experience simple, convenient, and high-converting. If you implement these 7 suggestions, you’ll maximize your sales potential.
1. Make the checkout process seamless
Why do people shop online? Because people like to wait about as much as they like chatting on the phone with the IRS. Because lines are more annoying than 99.1 FM, “All Nickleback All The Time”. Shopping online is fast, it’s easy, and it’s super convenient .
Cater to those desires when you design your checkout. Keep it simple, with as few clicks as possible, and make it fast, requiring only the necessary info. Don’t force a person to enter their name, SSN, favorite baseball player, darkest secret, and last six street addresses, unless you really need all that info.
If possible, make the checkout process visual. Let customers know where they’re heading. Show them the road so they don’t get lost and leave their cart.
You probably don’t have loads of cash to pay a developer to build out a seamless checkout process for you. Fortunately, Shopify has a simple shopping cart solution that provides a seamless checkout process.
2. Cross sell your products at checkout
Convenience comes in many forms, and some people need to be reminded of that. When your customers get to the checkout, cross sell, and you’ll suddenly trigger wants in many customers.
Look at Amazon. When you go to pay, you’re suddenly confronted with a boatload of related products. Customers who bought headphones also bought MP3 players, running shoes, left-handed chainsaws, and the entire John Tesh Masterpiece Collection. It’s like the candy rack at the grocery store, but with less calories and more profit potential.
Follow Amazon’s lead and watch your profits grow. Just look at what Amazon offers at the checkout: Some customers need to be reminded that they were looking for a can opener as well as a toaster.
Gift wrapping. Any guy in his right mind should jump at this option–especially at Christmas. A great gift that looks pretty gets bonus points with the wife!
Warranties are a great upsale. The customer understands that you honor your products, and they yield great profit potential.
Customers at the checkout are already in a buying mood. They have the credit card out and are ready to punch in the numbers. Take advantage of that! Capitalize on what’s already there.
3. Add review snippets to product pages
Without the ability to touch the products, customers need something to look at to give them the extra push they need. They need something to assure them that they’re not buying a piece of crap that will dissolve after the first use. Use customer reviews to give them the reassurance they need.
Many times, customers won’t buy products without reviews. If you have a superior product without any reviews, and your competitor has a lesser product with reviews, studies show that customers will choose the product with feedback.
The skate on the far right could be the best out of all, but it doesn’t have a single review, which means I’m not touching it with a ten foot hockey stick. Get reviews on your products!
4. Remove forced checkout registration
In the classic movie Field Of Dreams, an ethereal voice says to Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come.” In the much lesser known Field Of Dreams 2, starring Gilbert Godfried, the same voice says, “If you force them, they will leave!”
And it’s true! When it comes to ECommerce, if you force them, they will leave! Asking customers to do too much at checkout will result in more abandoned carts than the zombie apocalypse.
Give them to option to register, but don’t force them. If they do register, save their info for future reference so they can check out more quickly.
5. Use strong call to actions across your site
I am not online to go hunting, I am online to go shopping. If I can’t easily find the cart on your site, I’m shopping at a site where I can.
Have a clear call to action on your site. A “Buy Now”, “Add to Cart”, or some other clear, strong, call to action. Don’t make it confusing for customers to give you their money! A cart on the side of every page also gives customers an easy path to the checkout!
You have to make your cart and your checkout visual and easy to find. When a customer is ready to leave and give you money, don’t make it hard on them.
6. Let people contact you
As convenient as online shopping is, people often still feel the need for human interaction and personalized attention. Customers want the ability to ask questions about products. They want to know that a real person is available if they run into problems. Provide them with choices such as email, phone, or live chat.
It’s not enough to have a generic inbox with an automated reply. Customers want to feel like they are important. Like they matter. Like they’re not just another dollar in the bank. Have a dedicated customer service rep to personally respond.
They are giving you real money, so give them real service!
7. A/B test everything
There are always ways to make it better! You don’t just start an eCommerce store, sit back, and start making money! If that were the case it would be called “profiting”, not “working”.
You have to test, retest, and then test again to make sure you’re optimizing your opportunities for profit.
First A/B test your products. Start with calls to action. Compare two pages’ call to action locations, determine which one converts the most sales, and then implement the best.
Move to the checkout process. Compare two forms, determine which gets the most conversions, and implement. Repeat this process with reviews, color schemes, headers, text, etc.
Stay on your toes, stay active in your business, and you will make money. You can’t just sit back and hope you’ll make money. You have to be involved in the process. Always keep looking for new and better ways.
Done well, and done consistently, split testing can drastically increase your bottom line!
eCommerce is not an easy business; especially when you have to compete with giants like Amazon! Competing with their marketing genius is most likely out of your budget, but you can follow their lead.
Follow these few practical tips, and invest personally in your online store. Don’t just make it something you manage. Make it something you explore, develop, test, grow, and learn from. You will profit if invest yourself in it.