The 5 habits of highly effective e-commerce stores
1. Think like a consumer, and put your products in more than one category. The online businesses that make their goods and services easy to find reap rewards in two ways: People purchase more and they experience greater overall satisfaction with the Web site. Consider up sell and cross sell opportunities by offering products that make logical sense together. If you sell paintings and frames, show the frames that best complement the paintings. If you sell a line of products that have a wide range of prices, show the progression from the least expensive to the most expensive. Customers may choose to purchase the higher priced items if they're presented as options.
2. Keep it simple. Many people cite overly complicated navigation or too many pages in the purchase path as reasons they don't complete their online sale or abandon their shopping cart. Successful eCommerce sites simplify the checkout process and display clear pricing and shipping information. They also post clear return policies and access to customer service. Putting your brick and mortar store's phone number in a visible place on your Web site is a good idea. Studies suggest that consumers feel more confident knowing you're just a phone call away if they have a question or if there's a problem with their order.
3. A picture really is worth a thousand words, so use photos of your products and go easy on the text. Online usability studies suggest that people do not read; they scan. It's 25% harder to read on the Web, so keep these guidelines in mind for optimum readability: Headlines should be 8 words or less, shoot for 9-12 words on a line (people don't want to read across the entire screen), keep sentences short (15-20 words) and try to keep summaries under 30 words and hold paragraphs to 40-70 words. In this way you can maintain compelling product descriptions alongside your product offerings.
4. Market your site once it's live. It's not enough to just build a Web site. You need to make an effort to market and promote your Web site to new and existing customers. Collect email addresses on your site to help you keep in touch with customers and consider creating a newsletter. Seek links from other sites that complement yours. Optimize your site's content for relevance and submit it to the major search engines. With ProStore, you've got an incredible built-in marketing opportunity in that you can promote your products to millions of eBay customers. Take advantage of this capability to reach a whole new set of customers.
5. Make payment processing easy. Online shoppers need a way to give you money online. That's easy these days. You can accept credit card payments with either a PayPal account or an online merchant account. PayPal is ideal for anyone trying out the eCommerce waters since there's less of an upfront commitment, but you may end up paying more per transaction. If you know from the beginning you're going to have strong sales and lots of online transactions each month, you may want to consider setting up an online merchant account. The thing to note about PayPal is that both the buyer and the seller need a PayPal account, but that's hardly a barrier to entry. It's so easy to create a PayPal account that more than 96 million consumer accounts have been created at PayPal since it was founded in 1998 and it's estimated that PayPal has a 24% share of all U.S. online payments.
Top 10 ecommerce tips
Choose a database driven eCommerce solution
There are many “cheap” ecommerce store building packages available off the shelf. These require you to install software on your PC. Database driven solutions allow you to update your store in real-time wherever you are in the world via the convenience of a web browser.
Adopt the KISS approach (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Keep your ecommerce project simple to start with and adopt a phased approach. You should concentrate on incorporating the core website functionality first so you can take orders from day one. Other features can then be added later on.
Know your products and your market
Similar principals apply to setting up an internet business as those relevant for an off-line business. Know your potential marketplace and identify your customers. Do your research carefully and ask yourself the question, why would someone want to buy this product from my site?
Selling online typically involves adopting a lower pricing strategy but be aware there will always be someone willing to undercut you – what other differentiators can you offer to gain customer loyalty and new business?
Attract visitors and orders from day one by using pay-per-click
If it’s a new business consider a sponsored advertising campaign (pay-per-click) to drive buying traffic to your site from day one. Remember to allocate a realistic budget to cover this.
Outsource your pay-per-click advertising
Anyone can run their own AdWords campaign but knowing the tricks of the trade will save your advertising budget and give you “more bang for your buck”. A managed campaign will save you more than the monthly management fees and prevent needless wastage of your advertising budget.
Get your site optimized for the major search engines
With a view to the long term a search engine optimisation (SEO) project should be undertaken to increase your exposure in the natural (free) search listings and drive traffic to your site. SEO results cannot be guaranteed by anyone. Avoid any company or individual making these types of claims.
Choose a partner not a just web design company
An ecommerce solution needs to change with the times and adapt to your business as it grows. Choose a company with a view to building a long-term relationship rather than simply viewing it as a one-off project
Listen to the professional advice being offered during the project
Remember the purpose of the site is to generate orders so don’t get too emotionally attached to non-value adding details which may actually detract users from buying from the site.
Update your site regularly
Changing content not only attracts your customers back but also search engine spiders and bots, which can push your site up the search engine rankings. This can include maintaining the textual content of your site, adding articles of related interest as well as new products and services on offer.
Selecting the best online payment options
You can use the following scenarios to help you choose the best option for your business.
Your business already accepts debit and credit card payments for face-to-face transactions. You expect a fairly high number of online transactions, most of which will be simple and low risk. You need the greatest amount of flexibility in operating your business and cash flow is very important. If this sounds like your business, then you should apply directly for an Internet merchant account and discuss your requirements with the acquiring bank.
Your business will not have a large number of online transactions and you do not currently accept debit or credit card transactions so have no merchant account. You have not been trading long and you cannot provide a well-documented operations history. You value the ability to attract online sales more highly than the ability to collect sales income quickly. Your business will need some flexibility in the way in which it designs and operates its website, so you should consider the facilities that a payment-processing company could offer, with the possibility of moving to a less costly option at a later date.
Online shopping mall
Your business is small, you do not currently offer debit or credit card sales and you have very limited IT skills. Your products are fairly standardized and easily understood. You do not think that your website needs any unusual features. You are prepared to pay higher transaction and fixed costs just to establish a web presence. If this applies to your business, you should look at the facilities that an online shopping mall could offer.
An online mall brings together a number of online shops on the same website, often from the same sector. It hosts your online shop and processes payments for you. Malls will often provide software to help you set up your shop and receive card payments on your behalf. You maintain and update your own shop within the mall, but most of the administration is done for you.
Avoid online pitfalls when creating e-shop
Many e-commerce web sites fail because of basic mistakes that are easily rectified. Customers will be put off by:
- out-of-date or incorrect information
- difficult site navigation and purchasing processes
- poor customer fulfilment and late delivery
- lack of customer support
- lack of business information
- poor visual design
So it is essential to:
- Make sure all information on your website, especially on prices, is up-to-date.v
- Monitor the information you provide on a regular basis.
- Make it easy to find and purchase products.
- Make sure that resources and procedures are in place to support your website. This will ensure that orders can be processed quickly, emails can be responded to quickly, and helplines are manned by appropriate staff at reasonable times.
- Have your website professionally designed.
Remember - when selling through an online shop, you don't normally have any personal contact with your customers, so you need to try harder to find and keep them.
There are further steps you can take to increase the chances of visitors placing an order, and to make them feel more secure about buying from your site. These include:
- making your site easy to navigate and user-friendly
- giving a 100 per cent no-quibble money-back guarantee if they don't like or want the product
- making sure photographic images on your site are accurate and show products in their best light
- hiring a customer service representative who can give advice on the phone to customers on more complex or expensive products
- making ordering procedures straightforward and quick
- confirming orders immediately by email
- being honest - telling the customer if you can't deliver on time
- providing a way for customers to track down the progress and availability of their order
Helping customers find your website
For your online shop to be effective, customers must be able to find it.
There are a number of things you can do to steer customers towards your website, including:
- notifying search engines - there are three major ones (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN/Windows Live)
- publicizing your site through related websites - many individuals go to sites after seeing a link, an advertisement or a mention on another site
- negotiating joint ventures with other sites
- word of mouth
- advertising in traditional media
- adding your website address to all emails, letterheads and other stationery and to your business vehicles
- mailing or emailing your customers with a newsletter
- getting into local online business directories
- adding an email this to a friend button on your site
When you choose your Internet address (URL) or domain name, try to make it simple and easy to remember so that customers will be more likely to go to your site rather than those of your competitors.
If you want to build your audience it is essential that you are listed in web directories and search engines. But this can be a difficult and time-consuming process.You can get your website listed or improve your search ranking using the following steps:
- Think about how people are going to find your site - pick key words and make sure they are in your page title and repeated further down the page. Ask friends and family to get involved with this for some objective feedback.
- Get as many websites as possible to link to your site - many search engines rank sites according to how many other websites link to them.
- Write a description of your site and the services it offers, and place it prominently on your home page.
- Be patient - it can take several months to get listed by search engines.
Resubmit your site details regularly to the main search engines.
Why upselling is so profitable
Consider this example. A customer buys a car with monthly payments of $395. With that size of investment, there’s very little resistance to adding $2 to the monthly payments for upholstery protection. For you, however, that additional sale is significant, as over 48 months it adds up to a $98 sale, with a huge profit margin.
Some would say that a $98 sale on a $25,000 vehicle is only a minimal increase in the overall sale. Why waste your time? But argument is that if it only takes 30 seconds to make that extra $98 sale, then you’re making more money for the company than with any other activity you do. If your salary is $20 per hour then doing the math, the 30 seconds you take to upsell costs the company about 17 cents. If it only costs the company 17 cents to make $98, that’s a huge return on investment. The fact that it’s attached to a $25,000 sale is completely irrelevant. So, upselling is one of the highest and best uses of your time.
How to upsell your customers
Most of you have eaten at McDonalds and been asked “do you want fries with that?’
If you accept their suggestion and purchase the fries it means you have just been upsold.
Definition of Upsell
This is a marketing term for the practice of suggesting higher priced products or services to a customer who is considering a purchase. The upsell is usually for a related product that is offered at a reduced price or sold as a higher priced item.
Benefits of the marketing upsell
1. Make more money
Extra money is made by suggesting another product. It adds value to what they have already purchased and the customer thinks they are getting a deal by purchasing the second item.
2. Repeat customers
Customers that have already purchased from you are happy to buy again providing they had a good experience and received good value for their money. They can easily become lifetime customers because they have come to trust your products.
3. Sell high priced items
If you want to sell a high-priced item you can first prepare your customer by selling several low priced items. ie create and market several ebooks or reports that lead the customer to purchase the high priced item.
Ways to upsell your customers
On your order page you could include another offer. The customer has a choice to either purchase the single item or purchase both items at a reduced price. Your customer feels he is getting a good deal because he is paying less for both items than if he purchased them separately.
Thank you page
After the customer has purchased an item he gets redirected to your thank you page. On this page you offer a second item, a subscription to your newsletter or have him subscribe to an on going email course. If he subscribes you will be able to offer him upgrades, or new items or a continuous basis.
Another good example of a company using marketing upsell is Amazon. If you purchased a book at Amazon, other books are suggested while making your purchase from the order page. They’ll also send you an email when a new book comes out related to the one you bought.
Instead of chasing new customers, you can always generate extra income from upselling your products. It’s a fact that 30 percent to 67 percent of all people can be up sold at the time of purchase. Make a list of all the different strategies you can use to upsell your clients, then put them into action.
You will be glad you did!
Three tips to generate more sales effortlessly and 3 ways people blow It
Three key tips to effectively upsell your customers.
1. Up-sell where it makes sense. Say a customer purchases an e-book from your website. Instead of trying to upsell your customer on a $3,000 seminar, ask if he’d considered purchasing a $97 teleclass that teaches the work from the e-book.
2. Use sales incentives. Once you’ve received the first sale, offer a discount on the second item. Give the customer a 10% discount off their first teleclass. Sometimes a very small price break is enough to get that extra sale.
3. Identify buying patterns. Take note of how many customers who purchase e-books also buy teleseminars. This kind of information tells you what items to pitch and when. Your grasp of market research will impress potential buyers as well: telling consumers that 90% of the people who buy e-books from you also buy seminars might tip them towards making that extra purchase.
The best part of upselling is that it’s practically effortless. Since it’s done after the customer has decided to go ahead with a major purchase, the hard part of the sales conversation has already been done. You’ve already established rapport, identified needs, summarized, presented benefits, asked for the order and handled objections. Upselling is just presenting the information in a “by-the-way” assumptive manner.
Also, make sure that you include an upsale opportunity in your autoresponder within your shopping cart. For example, someone buys an e-book. In your autoresponder, thank them for their purchase and ask them if they would like to register for the teleclass on the same subject for a discount.
So if it is so easy, you might be asking, how can I go wrong?
The 3 biggest mistakes in upselling:
1. No attempt is made to upsell. I can hear it now as I write this article. “I hate to sell”, “I don’t want to bother people”, and the ever popular “They are probably going to say no”. This upselling business might all sound a bit contrived, but let me introduce another perspective to look from assuming that you only provide top notch products and services that can make your customers life easier and more enjoyable.
If you had information or a product that could help people improve the quality of their life, wouldn’t you actually be doing a disservice to them to not offer it. You would actually be withholding valuable information from them. And here is the thing… they do have the right to say no. AND you are in business. If you don’t offer or ‘sell’ your services or products to prospects, you won’t have a business much longer and then all the people who need you won’t have access to you.
2. The salesperson comes across as being pushy. How can you avoid this? Being assumptive is the key. You’ve got to assume that the customer will naturally want your product or service. Begin the upsell with a brief benefit, and then if possible, add something unique about what you’re selling. To avoid sounding pushy, particularly if the upsell requires some elaboration, ask for the customer’s permission to describe it.
3. The upselling is made in an unconvincing manner so the customer generally refuses. This issue really links back to the objects made in number one, which is you don’t feel comfortable ‘selling’, so you don’t really make an effort. If you believe in your products and services, let the buyer see your passion. If you don’t…it is time to go back to the drawing board.