Factors that are very or extremely influential in determining where Americans shop are price (87%), shipping cost and speed (80%) and discount offers (71%) ~ BigCommerce
Time – 35 min read
You never forget your first eCommerce implementation – many more exciting launches later we’ve decided to compile a list of eCommerce quick wins which will get your eCommerce shop performing beyond what you’ve ever thought possible. The thing is, we work with many medium sized businesses in Toronto, Los Angeles and New York and as much as I hate cookie cutter solutions, there are certain feature parallels which EVERY eCommerce shop should take in order to significantly improve their online performance.
So, if you’re the shop’s keeper, we’ve got some killer eCommerce advice for you which you can implement within a few months to get more guaranteed sales. Get comfortable and grab a cup-o-Joe.
1 – Get an Abandoned Cart Saver App
When users gather products into their shopping cart and leave the cart before checking out…they’ve abandoned it. Simply put, abandoned cart saver apps send an email invitation or a reminder to customers who have added an item to their cart but left before completing checkout. This will get some users to come back to purchase, hence saving the cart.
So, here’s how to make abandoned carts a thing of the past with follow up emails…just joking, you can’t, but you CAN REDUCE the amount of abandoned carts via some smart content & offerings.
- Remind the user of the exact item’s they have left in their cart
- Combine a one time offer coupon with an expiry date
- Make the email personable, notice the “Psst… you forgot something” subject line in the below example from a Wayfair.ca cart saver.
- Remind them of your no-frills shipping policy
2 – Get a Coupon Pop-Up App
Pop Ups help you increase newsletter signups, increase purchases, decrease bounce rate & increase awareness of new products or offerings. Pop Ups are prompted upon certain type of triggers, most common being hovering over closing a tab/window, a timed popup upon landing on a page, or just that…visiting a certain page of your site.
Pop Up Ads make your site feel interactive and most importantly get a message across of your latest promotion / value offering to the window shopper. I’ve listed two unbelievably great apps that will turn page shoppers into potential buyers and to great sources of emails signups.
Great coupon apps also come with simple and powerful analytics which will allow you to understand how many impressions, clicks, registers/uses you have gotten based on your in-site Ad, allowing you to optimize for better ad copy, content, page location and trigger type. Many of our eCommerce clients in Toronto and Los Angeles have seen a minimum of 10% to a staggering 35% increase in sales and data collection.
Focus on creating at least these 3 coupon pops with stellar creative and dead simple copy (make sure the coupon code works and is simple to read)
- Instant Discount Offer: Trigger = Person on site for 10 + seconds
- Abandon Offer: Trigger = Person mouses over closing the tab or browser
- Latest Promotion Offer: Trigger = Person lands on the category with the most profitable (in proven sales) product you carry
3 – Make Your Shipping Policy Without Frills
Poorly thought out shipping policies are responsible for a loss of staggering amounts of money (and shoppers). I know I know…you can’t beat Amazon Prime it is a killer, however, you can craft your policies is such a way that they are easy to read and are no-nonsense. Here are our top favorite shipping strategies:
- Free Shipping: hands down the highest converting shipping policy – why? you have Amazon to thank…kidding, sort of…but people are trying to save a buck anywhere possible, remember that one time you tried to buy a book for $25 to find out the shipping was $15, yeah, not attractive. Free shipping is also known as incorporating some of the cost into the MSRP price of your items. Yes, you will loose in the short term, but the volume of shoppers attracted by this strategy will outweigh the lower profit margin per product.
- Fixed Price Shipping: this is my favorite for two reasons: the shop wins as you don’t loose out on profit margin, and the shopper has a clear cost (with no hidden fees) to pay – awesome. However, keep in mind fixed price shipping is regional and should really consider which geographic zones are beneficial before you introduce multiple fixed priced shipping rules per geographic zone ex: Canada, USA, Europe
- Variable Shipping: yuck, don’t do it. But, if you must at least make the value offering of the product incredibly unicorn like, and your return policy better than a Klondike bar, that way most people will think like so “If I don’t like it, I’ll return it later” to never return it again, keeping money in your pocket.
Example: Leon’s (a Canadian furniture store) made their shipping & return policy (both factors key to influencing purchasing decisions) super obvious on their homepage.
4 – Up-Selling & Cross Selling
Increase Up-Sells: Up-selling is when you entice a shopper to spend more when they were about to purchase for less. Example: Stacking two similar dresses together of the same color, however one dress is Made in China – call it your standard line, and the other is Made in USA – call it your premium line that’s higher quality, costing a tad more. Due to the low price difference, consumers will shell out more on the higher priced item given the value offering is enticing enough.
Increase Cross-Sells: Cross-selling is when you offer complimentary products on the product page or during the check out process. Example: Selling a bed, while cross selling its complimentary night stands, dresser or mattress. Most shops loose money not because consumers are cheap, its because they are unaware of your offerings. We are HUGE fans of Wayfair.ca as they are hands down the best at cross selling on the web, see below “Complete the Set” example (while a user shops for a bed, a set is offered).
5 – Place Highest Selling Products to the most visible areas
This isn’t rocket science, yet MANY eCommerce stores neglect to do just this – ensuring their highest sellers / most popular products are at the most visible part of the website – always -. Most eCommerce platforms have this is as a standard feature, here are some common ways you can easily do this:
- Select Featured Products: most eCommerce platforms have a feature which allows you to mark/star/checkbox a selection of products which you want to feature on the homepage. Do this for products that sell the most.
- CTA link to a category: most eCommerce platforms allow you to create unlimited categories, so create a category for top sellers/most popular and link the URL to a gorgeous CTA on the home page.
- CTA link to a tag URL: some eCommerce platforms have an awesome feature which allows you to tag products within their options, so if you tagged various socks as “Best Socks” and then link to that URL, you’ll see your selection of socks. This is also best used for seasonal promotions (totally different topic to cover later 🙂 ) Anyway, create a CTA on the homepage, then link to the tag URL.
Here’s an awesome example of a tea shop, Tealyra.ca has added best sellers to the homepage – perfect.
6 – Religiously send out Newsletters
eCommerce newsletters allow you to capture and nurture new and existing clients, it’s the most powerful and cost effective tool in your eCommerce arsenal, period.
Think of it, out of all of our online spaces the mailbox is the utmost personal space we’ve got, receiving an email is something personal and is much more likely to be opened, read and clicked on v.s. a paid online Ad. That’s because people have signed up to get emails, they’re expecting to receive and are not on guard.
Quick eCommerce newsletter statistics: SmartInsights a digital marketing advice and research firm, released a 2017 UK based stats on newsletter effectiveness here’s an example for two industries using newsletters:
eCommerce – Open Rate: 16.75% Click Through Rate: 2.32%
Physical Retail Shops – Open Rate: 20.96% Click Through Rate: 2.50%
Tips for a simple & successful newsletter:
- Have a personable subject line (Make the purpose of the newsletter clear ex: “Patio Furniture Flash Sale!” for a sale or “Pssst…we’ve saved your stuff” for a reminder of a dropped cart.
- Keep the image content to a minimal, no one likes a massive newsletter, if you need to scroll down, you’ve got too content.
- Ensure you reinforce your credibility in every newsletter, for example: have star ratings, or something like “Over 3,000 tea lovers rates us as 5 stars” to ease the decision making process, especially for new shoppers.
- Create at least the following 4 types of newsletter campaigns:
- Welcome message ex: Bam! Thanks for signing up
- Abandoned Cart: We’ve saved your stuff
- Sales / Coupon Campaigns: We’ve got a deal for you, 5 days only!
- Review Request: Love your purchase? We rely on solid feedback 🙂
Awesome eCommerce newsletter platform: MailChimp
7 – Invest in Paid Advertising
Whoever said paid advertising doesn’t work is also probably a flat-earth believer. Paid advertising is one of the only ways in which new eCommerce businesses can get noticed right away, the trick is knowing which platform to invest your money into and having super if not hyper-targeted Ads.
This is a beast of a topic on it’s own and I promise to write in more detail and dedicate posts and more posts till you’re bored, but for now here’s the quick why’s and how’s.
- Facebook & Instagram Ads: Next best thing to email, Facebook is a personal space for most people, if you’ve got a shop and want attention run a carefully targeted campaign to get relevant traffic through to your site – oh and it helps you engage your audience for free on your page – win.
- Google Display: Google is the household name for search, so it would be crazy not to focus in on displaying relevant Ads to your market using the Google Ad platform.
- Top tips for running a successful Ad Campaign (main message: be hyper specific, if you’re to broad with Ad criteria, you’ll end up wasting tons of money)
- Ensure its hyper regionally targeted (what physical regions do your shopper purchase from?)
- Use specific key search phrases, interests and audience profile characteristics
- Mirror your audience as much as you can / use your email subscription lists to target the audience with the same demography profile as your existing ones
- No wordiness or busy imagery, keep it simple and to the point
- Make the message personable and not read like a try hard Ad
- Adjust & optimize daily and weekly
Note: Facebook & Google Display advertising has some strict rules around products such as knives, survival kits, medicine, guns etc, so be sure to know the platform to invest in that won’t shut down your ads due to their policies.
8. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest Your Products
Social media serves as social proof – period – even if you sell toilet products ex: SquattyPotty. Pick ONE platform that will work best for you as they are free…(where do your shoppers hangout?) and work that platform with weekly imagery / posts of your products.
Hint: studies show that people react more positively when they see the intended product being used by another person similar to them, it helps them visualize using the product / see it in action.
Example: GarderobeToronto.ca has aced their social media game, they frequently post photos of complimentary products and of -course – models using them.
9. Get Endorsements from Social Media Celebrities
Yes – this will involve money / sending “free” products to the social media celebrity, but man will this pay off twice fold if you’ve picked the right people to give your product to. Remember that a person that many others follow serves as an idol, and idols are followed & are listened to. Here’s my vetting list for picking social media stars:
- 25K + Followers minimum (unless you’re in a super niche in which case 5k followers might even do the trick), and the celebrity has to be directly related to what your business does or has the same type of audience your business needs.
- They don’t have posting diarrhea, meaning they don’t post more than twice a day. If they post more than twice a day your product spotlight might be over too soon with minimal impact.
- They’re willing to take your product and review it with you being able to do a second-eyes check on what they’re about to publish, if it’s not favourable you should have a say in whether or not the review gets published at all.
- Give them a social media guideline kit to provide approval on(simple 1 to 2 page word doc outlining the conditions of the agreement) this will help you protect your brand
- Send the product to them in the best possible package…go all out on this one
- Ask them to tag you back / @mention / link to your site in the post
Secret Tip: the most awesome part of having a social media celebrity post your eCommerce shop products on say..Instagram or Twitter, it stays on there for a long time if not forever. People will always be able to find it (this goes a million fold for YouTube reviews)
Example: Imagine you’re a fashion or women’s lifestyle brand and get Sandra Hagelstam (one of the best fashion bloggers) to highlight a product for you.
10. Get a Product Review App
One of the most key factors influencing purchasing decisions online is……… you guessed it, having credibility. There are tonne of amazing niche shops out there that loose money daily simply because they do not have the cookie points left from other users reviewing a product…but fear not, the solution is simple to implement and will help you with sales almost instantly, not to mention making your site feel interactive and alive.
By the way, my third recommendation although works for most shops is especially great for new shops which cannot afford to wait months or years to gather many reviews, it aggregates reviews from same products sold on other sites.
11. Blog or YouTube Product Reviews
Nothing spells “Credibility” and “Authority” better than a business that provides quality product or service relevant tips with uniquely generated content. There are several ways to do this:
- Yourself – Write or record a review / advice piece at least twice per month. Or hire a dedicate copy / content creator to do this.
- A Marketing Shop – Hire a marketing shop to write content on your behalf, just provide them the topics and main points you need to get across to your listeners. Ensure to iterate with them to understand style & tone.
Secret Tip: the more unique content your business posts, the more favourable you will look to Google search engine magic…aka you’ll likely attract more organic traffic.
12. Be Found on Google Maps (and reviews)
Have a physical location or want to get calls? Get on Google Maps, now. When was the last time you used Google Maps for finding McDonald’s, a 7/11, gas station or a steak restaurant…exactly almost always, so it simply makes sense to put your business on a map of the largest search engine platform in the world – just saying.
Secret Tip: once you setup your location on Google Maps, send an email to existing customers to review your biz – Google star reviews help get conversions and people to your physical shop (if you have one).
13. Use High Quality Images & Detailed Product Page Copy
The Image: quality images are a must have, since your website users cannot touch & feel the product, you need to do your best to simulate those senses with crisp imagery and good lighting. Take out the anxiety of buying online by providing multiple images of your product, front, side, a person using etc. this will help reduce the anxiety level of the purchaser of buying online.
The Description: Good for credibility and SEO, your product descriptions have to be concise yet as descriptive as possible about the product you are selling, take SONOS.com for example, they accompany their quality product images with technical specs that are clear as day to read – nailed it.
14. Easy to Use Navigation
If your potential customers cannot find want they want within 3 seconds you might as well consider them gone. Ensure that navigating your site feels natural and includes as little amount of clicks as possible.
- Intuitive Search: as people start typing in the search bar, results should come up pronto to assist with visual searching.
- Mega Menus: awesome for SEO and amazing for a quick visual of everything that you offer, The Hudsons Bay Company nailed this one, have a peek
- Contextual / Dynamic Left Hand Navigation: If you’re a shop with many products, then sorting, and fine filtering through products should be a breeze, make this happen via contextual product category specific navigation
- Never have 3+ layer search, ex: Category > Subcategory 1 > Subcategory 1.1
Example: Wayfair makes it easy as pie to navigate their site and pick from thousands of products on their eCommerce platform.
15. One Page Checkout
You must simplify your customer’s checkout experience. If you’re like most stores selling goods and services, ensure that when a customer decided to proceed to purchase, they are not spooked by complexity.
Secret tips to simplifying your checkout page
- Get an SSL certificate “https://yoursite.com”. This will allow your site to get a security seal and recognize that it is a secure site to complete transactions on, customers trust that. This is mandatory, get one now if you do not have it yet.
- Use one page checkout, usually its a vertical scrolling page that does NOT make your user leave to another page. Remember, most users on your site will be new and anxious, your job is to lessen their anxiety and heighten their trust levels.
- Offer a guest checkout – DO NOT make it mandatory to create an account, this is a sure way to get people to hit the hills. Life’s already complicated with all of us having a gazillion logins. Offer a guest checkout, or if for whatever reason you do have to make people create an account for legal reasons, at least have single sign on service via social media which will make pre-filling info much easier ex: sign in via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
17. eCommerce Analytics – thoroughly understand web analytics
Read the linked post – Understanding analytics is critical to making smart business decisions to keep your shop at peak performance & converting visits to sales, I know that you know this, but because it’s such a widely publicized topic, people have grown immune to its importance.
Understanding Analytics will enable you to do the following:
- Understand your business’s profitability
- Understand category & product demand (what your customers really want)
- Optimize your Ad campaigns for more impact and less budget wastage
- Understand what content to change on your website in order to have people reach you organically
- Optimize customer engagement via Social Channels & Newsletters
16. Get a Mobile Payment Terminal (POS)
If you’ve got physical inventory, especially if you are the designer/maker of the brand itself, you should ALWAYS have a point of sale (POS) on you when you travel locally or abroad. My favorite app? Square, it turns your cellphone or tablet into a secure POS, say goodbye to expensive banking systems that are clunky, and hello to mobility at any trade-show or pop-up event you attend.
17. Tell Your Story (About Us Page)
The About Us / Our Story page is one of the most frequently visited pages on your site, unfortunately most people get it dead wrong or simply neglect it. This is where your shoppers first WANT to fall in love with you, and it’s your chance to speak to them to convert them to buyers and loyal customers.
Some tips for a stellar about us page
- In one line, explain what you do / what your value proposition. Example: VistaPrint’s About Us page is awesome, tells you exactly what the business does “It’s simple: Our business is helping you promote yours.”
- Write a few lines about your history, even if you just started, get crafty with what led you to your value proposition (think like the customer, they should be saying “yeah that makes sense!” in their head when they read it.
- Reinforce your credibility, point out your simple shipping & return policy
- Have a picture of your / a team with relevant products so that people can relate
18. Shamelessly Talk About Yourself … Everywhere
Not really an instant converter – but I just had to put this one here. One of the most peculiar things I’ve noticed is that eCommerce aspiring small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are shy to talk about themselves. It gets even worse, most SMBs have a company culture of not actually knowing what their company objectives and primary products are. End. That. Now. You’re missing on hidden networking and referral opportunities.
Everyone in you shop should know what you do, why you do it and the value it brings to clients. You & your employees should have business cards on you always and be proud to talk about the biz 24/7 to anyone and everyone. Anyway, more on employee advocacy in later posts…
Now, if the above is overwhelming – it should be – as I just brain dumped our lessons learned from an average of 62 similar eCommerce implementations across Toronto, Los Angeles and New York. These are the top steps we have found to improve eCommerce sales across various industries, whether you are a Dental Supply Warehouse, Lifestyle Brand, Beauty Blogger, Construction Contractor, Car Parts seller, Outdoor Store or an International Tea Brand, the above steps will boost your sales. And yes, each of the above topics deserve a massive post of their own for a much deeper dive, we’ll get to that soon – promise.
If you’re jammed with various pipeline initiatives, give me a shout and I’ll help analyze your business’s digital footprint to fine tune and optimize performance – sometimes, we do take on a client or two.