7 Strategies To Increase Your eCommerce Sales
There are thousands of ways to increase sales, many of which you’ve probably learned in business school or in the school of life. However, when it comes to selling online, there are a few additional challenges you have to overcome. Not only do you have to market your business, but also you have to optimize your site to attract organic traffic. You need to be clear with customers about your products and your shipping options, and then you have to optimize your checkout page to reduce the risk of customers leaving before they complete a purchase.
In short, online selling is complicated, and even when you know which marketing strategies you should use, it can be difficult to implement those strategies on your own site. In this article, we hope to take away some of the complexities of selling online, and ultimately help you increase your online sales!
How To Increase eCommerce Sales
Below we’ll present seven strategies you can use to increase your online sales. Some of these strategies focus on attracting more traffic to your site, while others focus on converting more browsers to buyers. Within each section, we’ll include actionable steps that you can take today to increase your sales. Let’s get started!
1) Make Sure Your Store Is Mobile-Friendly
Mobile-friendly sites are websites that adapt to all different screen sizes. With a mobile-friendly design, your website is beautiful and easy-to-navigate on cell phones, tablets, and desktop.
Here’s an example of a mobile-friendly design template from Shopify’s selection:
Mobile-friendly design is incredibly important for many reasons! The biggest reason to make your site mobile-friendly is to accommodate the increasing traffic coming from mobile devices. As of the beginning of 2019, 64% of all online shopping traffic comes from mobile devices. What’s more, by 2022, mobile traffic is expected to drive almost 50% of eCommerce sales!
What’s more, using a mobile-friendly design is good for your site’s SEO rankings! Google prioritizes mobile-friendly browsing, and making sure your site is adaptable keeps you relevant on search results.
Fortunately, these days most eCommerce platforms offer mobile-friendly design templates. This is particularly true if you use cloud-based eCommerce software like Shopify, BigCommerce, or 3dcart. However, if you use open-source software (such as WooCommerce or Magento), design templates are typically created by hundreds of designers and developers. This means that template options for open-source software vary dramatically, and they are less predictable than design templates from cloud-based software. You have to double-check each design that you consider to ensure that it’s mobile-friendly.
2) Offer Attractive Shipping Options
Shipping costs are one of the biggest influences on online shoppers. When the Baymard Institute surveyed consumers who had abandoned an online shopping cart in the last three months, 50% of those surveyed said they did not make the purchase because extra costs (shipping, taxes, and fees) were too high. An additional 18% of those surveyed said they abandoned the purchase because they couldn’t see or calculate the total order cost up-front.
It’s crucial that your online store offers affordable, predictable, and even free shipping options to your customers. Making attractive shipping options available increases your sales in the long run.
That said, while low-cost shipping is great for customers, it isn’t so great for merchants. In many cases, offering free or reduced-rate shipping takes a toll on a company’s profit margins. Fortunately, there are a few routes you can take to offer attractive shipping rates without eating too much into your earnings.
Offer Flat Rate Shipping
Flat rate shipping lets you offer predictable shipping rates to your customers, based on the average amount it costs you to ship an item.
The most common way retailers calculate flat rate shipping is by averaging all of their shipping costs over a long period of time (several months to a year), in order to find an average shipping rate per item. This works well if you sell products that are similar in size and weight (clothing items, for example). However, if you sell items that have vastly different weights and sizes, you may need to set different flat rates based on product categories. The advantage of this shipping strategy is that it is easy to calculate, and it’s predictable for your customers. You can list shipping costs on product pages, which prevents any unpleasant surprises at checkout.
Make Free Shipping Available
In the age of Amazon Prime, customers have begun to expect free, fast shipping more and more often. The National Retail Federation’s Consumer View report in January 2019 showed that 75% of consumers surveyed expected free shipping, even on orders under $50. What’s more, 29% of interviewed consumers have backed out of a purchase because two-day shipping wasn’t free. In light of these stats, it’s clear that free shipping is a huge way to attract sales, and that not making free shipping available can lose you customers! That said, it is difficult (and expensive) to offer free shipping on every order. Here are a few alternative strategies you can try to make free shipping an option for customers:
- Set Reasonable Free Shipping Thresholds: One of the most popular ways to offer free shipping is to set order thresholds that customers must reach before they can have shipping fees waived (ex: “Free shipping on orders over $35!”). Be very careful when you’re choosing the number for your free shipping threshold. Setting the order total too high can discourage purchases, and setting it too low can hurt your profit margins. Take a look at this article from Shopify for advice on how to best set your free shipping thresholds.
- Offer Free Shipping Promotions: Some businesses choose to offer free shipping periodically as a promotion. You could offer free shipping on select items or on big sales days, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In addition, you can offer free shipping on a one-time purchase in exchange for signing up for your newsletter.
- Free Slow Shipping Or Expedited Paid Shipping: Alternatively, you can make free shipping a regular option for your customers who don’t mind waiting a few extra days. This gives customers the freedom of choice, and it does not require you to pay for free shipping on every order.
Reduce Shipping Costs With Good Software
It may seem obvious, but one of the best ways to lower shipping costs for your customers is to reduce the amount you spend on shipping. Signing up with a shipping software can give you access to discounted shipping rates on popular carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx. What’s more, shipping software often includes features that let you compare shipping rates across multiple carriers. Comparing shipping rates this way helps you select the lowest cost shipping method for every order. Here are a few shipping software apps that we recommend you try out:
- ShipStation: ShipStation integrates with numerous eCommerce platforms, making it a convenient option for many online sellers. The software is intuitive to use, and it includes many automation features. Learn more with our full review of the software.
- ShippingEasy: ShippingEasy is true to its name in that it is an easy-to-use software solution. They offer excellent customer support, and the software is already integrated with many popular selling software apps. Read our review for more.
- Shippo: Shippo offers a flexible pricing model that very small sellers can use for just $0.05 per shipping label. Shippo is highly usable and offers users discounted shipping rates. Check out our full review for details.
3) Create Better Product Descriptions & Pictures
Your customers don’t have the advantage of seeing your products in person. This can make customers hesitant to purchase products, especially aesthetically-focused items like decor pieces and clothing. Your product descriptions and images play a major role in influencing your customers’ purchases.
In addition, featuring quality product descriptions and images can impact your site’s SEO rankings. Writing your own original descriptions and featuring your own images can help boost your rankings. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind as you create your own descriptions and product imagery:
- Be Specific: Use specific language in your product descriptions. Include information about materials and the dimensions of the product. Your customer cannot hold your product in their hands, so give them the next best thing by writing a detailed product description.
- Tell A Story: Product descriptions are a great place to help customers envision your products in their lives. Additions like “this eye shadow creates a striking look for a night out” can help customers imagine themselves with your product.
- Include Multiple Images: It is crucial that your product imagery accurately portrays your items. Include photos from multiple angles on your product pages, and make sure you enable zoom features on your photos.
4) Utilize Email Marketing
Although more focus has shifted to social media marketing in recent years, email marketing is still very much running full swing. In fact, with an ROI of $44 for every $1 spent, email marketing is one of the best ways to reach out to former customers and inspire continued customer loyalty.
Use Email Marketing Best Practices
As you set up your email marketing campaigns, you should keep a few best practices in mind. Here are four key strategies:
- Personalize Your Messages: Emails that use customers’ names perform slightly better in open rates and click-through rates. When you include a customer’s name in the subject line, you have a slightly higher open rate, and using your customer’s name is even more effective in the body of the email.
- Include Images: When you include images in your emails, you improve engagement and you demonstrate the products you are promoting. Reports show that emails with images have higher open rates and click-through rates. Interestingly, though, they also have higher spam rates and unsubscription rates. Be sure to keep an eye on your email marketing performance and make adjustments as necessary.
- Create A Clear Call To Action: Give your customers clear guidance by creating a Call To Action (CTA). Many sellers choose to make their CTA a colorful button that directs customers to a certain page on their site. It’s a good idea to keep your CTA above the fold (meaning in the top section of your email), so customers can view the CTA without scrolling down.
- Organize With Customer Groups: As you collect email addresses, you need to make sure your records stay neat and organized. Try sorting customers into groups according to factors like amount spent in a single order, the number of orders placed, and demographics. When you have those groups organized, you can send out targeted email marketing campaigns to each group. Using targeted marketing increases your chances of inspiring customers to engage with your brand.
Choose An Email Marketing Software
Email marketing software is software that you can use to store customer contact information, create email marketing campaigns, and track your engagement rates. Email marketing software simplifies the process of designing emails, and it is typically very affordably priced.
Take a look at a couple of our favorite email marketing software programs to find one that fits your marketing strategy:
- Benchmark Email: Benchmark Email is designed for SMBs; it features an easy-to-use admin and is focused on adaptability. This email service provider is reasonably priced, and the Benchmark team seems to be in-tune with the needs of its users. Find out more in our full review.
- MailChimp: MailChimp is one of the most commonly used email marketing services in eCommerce. It’s already integrated into nearly every popular shopping cart. MailChimp is both feature-rich and easy to implement. Check out our review for more information.
- ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign is well known for its numerous features and excellent automation tools. ActiveCampaign also offers integrated tools for customer relationship management. Read more about it in our review.
- Campaign Monitor: Campaign Monitor is easy-to-use software with good customer service and advanced features. Pricing for Campaign Monitor is very affordable, and there is a free plan available. Learn more in our review.
5) Minimize Abandoned Carts
Abandoned shopping carts are one of the most common challenges in eCommerce. According to one report from the Baymard Institute, 69.57% of all online eCommerce shopping carts are abandoned before checkout! This is an industry-wide struggle, and no one will ever eliminate abandoned carts. However, with the right techniques, you might be able to recover a percentage of those abandoned carts. Here are a couple of tools you can use to tackle your abandoned cart issue:
- Built-In Abandoned Cart Saver Tools: Many shopping cart software systems include an abandoned cart saver. This feature automatically sends re-targeting emails to customers who leave items in their carts. In these emails, you should attempt to direct customers back to your site. Use discounts to incentivize customers to purchase, and make sure you include images of the products they’ve left behind, along with a clear call to action. For more recommendations on crafting quality re-targeting emails, take a look at Shopify’s guide.
- Abandoned Cart Integrations: If your shopping cart does not have an abandoned cart saver built-in, you have to use an extension to add on those features. As you seek out an integration for your shopping cart, make sure you read customer reviews. You’ll want to find an extension that works seamlessly with your eCommerce solution and that is backed up by reliable developers.
For more information, check out my full article on abandoned carts: 6 Ways to Reduce and Reclaim Abandoned Shopping Carts.
6) Use Pop-Ups Strategically
As much as I hate pop-ups, I cannot deny that they work. The average pop-up has a 3% conversion rate, and the most successful pop-ups can get up to a 9% conversion rate. Here are a few recommendations for effectively using pop-ups on your own site:
- Offer Discounts: Discounts can turn a potentially annoying pop-up into a welcome offer. When you offer a discount or a promo code, you motivate customers to engage with your brand by signing up for the newsletter. What’s more, providing a discount also encourages potential customers to make a purchase.
- Use Exit Intent Pop-Ups: Exit intent pop-up tools are designed to help you redirect customers who would otherwise abandon your site. The intelligent software monitors customers’ mouse movements and triggers a pop-up when it detects a customer moving their cursor to close your web page. This can help redirect customers who would otherwise be on the way out the door.
- Conduct A/B Testing: Test variations of a pop-up advertisement and track the conversion rate of each variation. It can be difficult to know what customers will respond well to, and testing helps you identify what is working and what isn’t.
For more strategies and tips to use in your pop-up marketing, we recommend this article from WordStream.
7) Accept Multiple Payment Options
Accepting payments through multiple payment methods is a great way to reduce cart abandonment at checkout. According to the Baymard Institute, 6% of customers have abandoned a cart in the past three months because there weren’t enough payment methods available.
Customers want the option to pay through a familiar route. This is especially true for new customers who may not yet trust your site’s security. Ease customer concerns by providing multiple familiar payment options. These options could include well-recognized payment processors like Square, as well as popular digital wallets like PayPal or Apple Pay.
In fact, as you go about deciding which payment method to accept, you should consider the strong role that brand recognition plays in customer confidence. According to one study, consumers are 54% more willing to make a purchase when a business accepts PayPal. That’s a huge stat, and it’s one you should keep in mind.
As you select payment methods for your online store, you should also be sure to check out our preferred providers. We have thoroughly researched these payment methods, comparing pricing, customer support, and reliability with other top competitors. These payment providers are a great place to start your search.
Create A Sales Strategy & Take Action
There are, of course, a million other ways that you can increase online sales, but the above strategies are a good way to begin. Test out a few techniques that sound good to you, and track your traffic and revenue for signs of success.
For even more information, try our free, downloadable eBook, The Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Store. In it, we present all of the steps you need to take to turn an idea into a successful online store.