If you’re running one of the roughly 20,000,000 e-commerce businesses active today, getting sales is your number 1 priority. It has to be. But at times your sales will plateau or even nose dive. And it’s not a nice feeling when this happens. It panics you. So, how can you drive more sales consistently?
In this guide, I’ll outline what your eye should be on and offer some straightforward fixes for areas you might not be doing too well with.
If your e-commerce business needs more sales
E-Commerce - Where Does Your Business Sit?
With any e-commerce business it’s vital to identify exactly where your business sits. To do so, you need to identify what your business represents from the following 2 categories:
Manufacturer. You not only sell the product, you make the product. No one knows the items you sell better than you do. Ok, the products might actually be manufactured overseas, but you’ve designed and spec’d them out. Your name is on the product. If this is you, think Apple, Nike, Nespresso, Jameson.
Retailer. You don’t make the products that you sell. You’re the middleman (middleperson?). You buy the products in bulk, or you’re drop shipping them. Your e-commerce website is the shopfront, the department store. Think John Lewis, Macy’s, Shinsegae.
Depending on whether you’re the named manufacturer or the retailer, your approach to e-commerce should differ greatly. How you present the products should differ greatly. But, of course, there will be some crossover, which is important.
E-Commerce Manufacturers - Some Key Points to Note
Apple makes the computers, phones, etc, that it sells. The Apple brand name is on all of them. And Apple is a fantastic case study for any e-commerce business that sells the products it makes. Take a moment to visit the Apple website to see what I mean.
Any e-commerce business selling its branded products should be the absolute authority on those products. You should go into huge amounts of details on how the products perform. Their USPs. The specification and the benefits of buying your branded products. An easy mistake to make is to think that your target market may already know why your products are so good. Don’t make that mistake. Assume your target market knows nothing. It’s your job to explain everything.
Few things will frustrate a potential buying more than not getting all the information they need in an easy to consume format. They absolutely will go elsewhere to buy.
What will set your e-commerce business apart from your competitors is the content on your website, which I’ll cover below.
E-Commerce Retailers - Some Key Points to Note
Know your place as the middleman. Your job is a simple one; to connect buyers with the products on your website and offer them a painless process of owning said products.
But knowing your place as the middleman should have an effect on how you market your business. You need to provide as much information - typically sourced from the manufacturer - as possible on the products in your store. If your competitors are selling the same products as you, you must differentiate yourself. Here’s how.
Take a 360º approach to marketing and selling via your e-commerce site.
It isn’t all about offering the product at a cheaper price than your competitors. Give buyers all the information they need. Provide them with a seamless process all the way through to checkout. And be the source of after-sales information. Buyers will chose your e-commerce business if they get a sense that you actually care. Even if you’re a little more expensive.
The content on your e-commerce website is what will communicate this to them. And there’s more information on that below.
E-Commerce - Who is Your Target Market?
Understanding who needs the products you sell, regardless of whether you’re the manufacturer or the retailer, is perhaps the most important element to a successful e-commerce endeavour.
The wants, needs, “pain points” of your target market should entirely inform how your e-commerce website is structured. A potential buyer should immediately get the sense that your website has the solutions to their problems.
A few of examples:
a parent in the market for a child’s birthday present
a husband in the market for a Valentine’s Day gift
a 30-something female in the market for a new coat
a 40-something male in the market for a new watch
An e-commerce website designed to sell toys or gifts for children, should be structured in a way to appeal to the people likely to spend money on it. It should reflect both the target market - children - and the person with their credit card in hand. An e-commerce website that sells watches should look and feel very different, even though 40-something males looking for a new watch may at times have the “pain point” of needing a birthday gift for their 10 year old son.
Clearly identifying who your target market is will directly impact how your website looks and feels. This includes the colour palette you use. The language you use to describe the products. The colour of the “Buy Now” button.
Visitors to your e-commerce website should immediately recognise they are in the right place.
A 40-something male, in the market for a new watch, walking into an Abercrombie and Fitch shop in their local shopping mall knows straight away it’s the wrong place for what they’re looking for.
E-Commerce - How to Understand How Your Target Market Sees You
Seeing where your e-commerce business intersects with your target market is another indicator for how you behave online. And the market is typically split into the following sections:
the curious. This group could be called “tyre kickers”. This part of the market is at the research stage. They know they need something, but they’re not sure exactly what. They’re window shopping online. Your e-commerce website might be one of dozens that they browse before they decide to buy. The experience they have while browsing will determine which e-commerce site they revisit when they’re ready to input their credit card details.
the fans. These are the online shoppers who know which product they need. They even know the brand name they want. They’ve been on your website before, but they’re not quite ready to make a buying decision. They still want to do some compare and contrast analysis first.
the super-fans. This group is ready to buy. They know what they want. They know who they want, brand-wise, and they’re ready to spend money. What they expect is a seamless transaction process. This includes the ability to browse through a category of product, make their selection and check out as quickly as possible.
Whether you’re a manufacturer or a retailer, your e-commerce website must accommodate all 3 groups. The content and design of your website will determine whether each groups identifies itself on it. That’s a challenge, but it’s not insurmountable.
E-Commerce - Have You Audited Your Website?
Oftentimes you’re way too close to your website to see it as it actually is. You’re sure your site is set up to appeal to all 3 categories of online shoppers. But if you’re not getting more sales, then it probably isn’t.
A fresh pair of eyes on your site will help you identify gaps in the decision making process. Perhaps your product descriptions are lacking some key pieces of information. Maybe your product imagery is poor. It could be a video explaining the benefits of the product is the missing piece of information.
Book me to audit your e-commerce website. I have over 10 years experience working with e-commerce clients and my eye is trained to spot the cracks a potential customer will fall through.
E-Commerce - Get Your Content Right
The content is top of the tree when it comes to getting more sales from your e-commerce website, and it’s broken down into the following categories:
E-Commerce Product Images.
These should be a mix of the standard “white background” photos and “product in context”. The latter matters as it will show a potential customer what the product will look like when they have it. This applies to anything you can sell online, from clothing to computers to holidays. If you’re a retailer, having your own photos of the products you sell can help set your business apart from your competitors.
The category of potential customer, “the curious”, will have visited several websites that sell what you sell. They’ll have seen the same images over and over again. But if you have something different to show you them, it’s virtually guaranteed that you’ll stand out.
Do your research. Visit your competitors e-commerce sites. Look at the images they’re using to showcase the products. If the manufacturers of the products offer you an image library, look through it and choose the images that will make your e-commerce site look different from your competitors. Oftentimes e-commerce retailers neglect to chose product application photos from the image library. Don’t make that mistake.
E-Commerce Product Videos.
The importance of showing the product in a video can’t be overstated. There’s tons of online research which shows that a product video on your e-commerce website will increase the likelihood of a sale by as much as 75%.
If you’re the manufacturer it’s absolutely your responsibility to make these videos.
If you’re the retailer, don’t just rely on the manufacturer’s videos! Make your own branded video content. Put the videos on YouTube as well as on the product pages. The curious category of online shopper will search for products by name. Being able to watch a video on YouTube about the product, that’s branded with your business name, is top-level online marketing. You’re offering them information that perhaps no-one else is.
The fans will love these videos and it will make them more likely to buy, in turn transforming them into your super fans. And the super fans will share your product videos with their friends to show them why they should become a customer.
E-Commerce Blog Content.
Most e-commerce platforms offer blog functionality. Use it. This is especially important if you’re a retailer. The blog should provide the 360º online shopping experience, from buying guides to after-market information on the products you sell.
The curious will read these articles while they make their mind up who to spend their money with. When searching for information on the products or brand names they’re interested in buying, the curious will see your blog content over and over again. This will create a sense of trust in you, the retailer.
The fans will have their decision to buy from your reinforced and confirmed. You’re going above and beyond your competitors And the super fans will share your blog content with their friends to convince them to become customers!
Why E-Commerce Content Matters
When you’ve identified your target market and you understand how your e-commerce business can help them, create content for your website that demonstrate this. Whether the shopper is curious, a fan or a super fan, the content will ease them further towards buying from you.
This unique content, whether video or blog, is perfect fodder for your social networks. Consistently posting great buying tips, comparison guides, how to… content will consolidate your business as the helpful expert. This should be the go-to strategy of all e-commerce retailers. It also gives you unique, helpful content to use in your social media ad campaigns.
A great example of this strategy is Mr. Porter. It’s an e-commerce business selling designer clothing for men. It’s not the manufacturer. It’s the retailer. And it uses the content on its website to guide the curious, the fans and the super fans through the buying journey, helping them with tips, advice and product information.
The business understands all the subtleties of its target market and has content on the e-commerce website to match where potential customers are in the buying journey.
Your E-Commerce Business and Me: Where Do I Come In?
I’ve worked in the e-commerce sector for over a decade. I’ve advised clients on the content their website needs and what will work on social networks. I’ve produced over 2000 product videos for YouTube, both for retailers and manufacturers. I understand how customers think and what they’ll need from you to help them decide to buy from you. I’ve written over 1000 blog article to help retailers make super fans out of the curious.
Your e-commerce business needs a fresh pair of eyes to help you get more sales. That’s where I come in. From auditing your website and social networks to working with you to produce the unique, stand out content for both, I’m here to help. Get in touch.