E-Commerce: 7 Ways to Increase Your Online Sales
Consumers going online to shop is happening with more regularity than ever before. In fact, e-commerce sales accounted for 10 percent of total retail sales in 2012, the first time that figure has reached double-digits. As a result of this shift in consumer behavior, retailers need to optimize their websites to present the best possible experience for shoppers. Here are seven tips to help you accomplish that:
1. Augment product-level ratings and reviews on your product pages with brand and category-level social testimonials that are visual. Hint: Look for your fans interacting with you on social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.
2. Cookie the users on your site and then use banner ads on display networks to remind these visitors of your products. Too many online merchants fail to think beyond the click with retargeting campaigns. Keeping your website in front of visitors' eyes is valuable because it constantly reminds them of your products, giving your brand a fighting chance to be first choice when it comes time for them to buy. Retargeting success is also a function of list size and duration, so patience is required as visitors increase and impressions grow. Too often merchants lose patience with advertising that doesn't show results immediately; with retargeting, perseverance is what pays off in the end.
3. Ensure your business meets government and industry security standards. Even the healthiest quarterly or annual earnings can be wiped cleaned by a fine for noncompliance, particularly in terms of PCI DSS and other private consumer data regulations. Conduct a complete business technology compliance audit to ensure your business is properly handling all consumer data. The audit should include any solutions provided by your technology partners.
4. Offer live assistance to shoppers. The quality of your customer service can make or break the shopping experience for many consumers. Make it easy for your customers to get help by making customer service information easily accessible. Consider offering real-time assistance online via live chat so visitors can speak immediately with a live agent without having to switch communication channels.
5. Encourage a future visit. Offer the ability for customers to sign up for e-newsletters and special deals via email and SMS on your order confirmation page. This is the last web page that displays after a purchase has been made, and it opens the door for engagement with customers that may have visited your site for the first time.
6. Update your site search. Intelligence features like autocomplete and search algorithms are valuable tools when developing a search-based strategy to reduce site abandonment rates. In addition to automatically completing fragmented search phrases, a robust on-site search platform should be capable of delivering product imagery and other content as part of the autocomplete function.
7. Optimize your site for tablet and mobile viewing. More people than ever are shopping online using their mobile devices. Make the most of this trend by ensuring your site is optimized with speed and usability features for touchscreen browsing. It's also a good idea to limit the use of Flash and minimize scrolling. A mobile app that takes opted-in customers directly to your store can also boost sales.