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Operating as a “virtual” shop that is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, an ecommerce website enables you to promote your entire product range and transact with your customers without the outlay of a “bricks and mortar” store.
But designing and building your new website is just the beginning. The secret to a successful ecommerce business is to continually develop your website and implement ongoing promotional activity.
At myCloud Media, we have lots of experience in developing ecommerce solutions and developing websites for a wide range of retailer types. Here are 10 top-level tips to help you improve your online sales…
Before you even build your website, it’s crucial to research your market. Consider what types of people or businesses you are targeting, what they’re interested in, what their purchasing habits are and what tone of voice they positively respond to. When you have done your research, carefully design your website in a style that appeals to your audience and will capture their interest and attention.
Even when your website is up and running, it’s important to keep a check on your market. Make sure you stay in tune with your buyers’ behaviour and keep up-to-date with changes and developments in your marketplace.
As part of your market research and when considering your product range, it’s essential to check out your competition. Look at the style of their website and how they promote themselves to the target audience. Fully review their product range and pricing so you can make sure you are competitive, and try to offer something different that will set you apart from them.
After you’ve researched your market, you’ll have a good idea of what products your target audience will want. Think about your core product range and also associated products that mean your customers don’t have to shop elsewhere.
Come up with bundled products that encourage customers to potentially spend more.
When considering your prices, make sure you factor in a good profit margin but without pricing yourself out of the market. Don’t forget about delivery charges - set out a clear structure on your website so your customers are fully informed.
Your website is your shop window so it’s essential to make sure your products are illustrated perfectly and given the justice they deserve. The quality and style of your imagery can make or break a sale so use professional and high-resolution photography throughout your site.
Cut-out product shots on white backgrounds work well on your product pages - think about different angles, zoom options and 360° views.
For products such as home furnishings, clothing or sporting goods, using lifestyle imagery will inspire your audience by illustrating products in use.
Many online shoppers are comfortable shopping online and making payments with PayPal or Google Checkout.
Whilst online shops will offer a merchant payment gateway solution with other trusted providers, such as SagePay, Barclaycard, Stripe, WorldPay and so on, lots of shoppers have active PayPal and Google accounts, so it's a good idea to also offer one or both of these alternatives. This can significantly improve conversion rates and reduce the chance of abandoned baskets.
In order to keep the momentum going with your new website, it’s a good idea to make a marketing plan. Draw up a calendar of promotional activity that will not only attract new customers but will give your existing customers a reason to keep coming back.
Some of your products may be more appropriate at particular times of the year, so formulate seasonal deals that you can promote to your contacts. Or perhaps hold an end of season sale that gives your buyers the chance to buy end-of-line products at special discounted prices.
Combine your Promotional Plan with your Content Marketing Plan for best results when wanting to entice new customers to your store.
As part of your promotional plan, you could trial some voucher offers giving special deals with the presentation of a voucher.
Promote the voucher via Facebook, Instagram or email it to your customer database. During the check-out procedure on your website, customers simply input the given promotional code which will activate the discount on their transaction.
Reward existing customers to encourage them to come back for more purchases as well as people who sign up to your newsletter or specific marketing lists.
Whatever your retail business, it’s likely that you’ll have new products coming into your range at fairly regular intervals. Use this opportunity to contact your customers and advise them that there’s something new that may interest them.
Write a blog or news story on your website and send an email to highlight each new product, and perhaps even offer a special introductory price to give the product sales a boost.
Your home page is usually the first thing that visitors see on your website, so it’s a key element for grabbing their attention.
Keep it fresh with different product information and offers and change images regularly to illustrate that your product range is continually evolving. Consider a strong call-to-action, such as a newsletter sign-up for a discount code offer.
Regular email updates help to keep your customers informed of new products, deals and more. Build your email database by including a sign-up form on your website pages - for start-ups, Constant Contact and Mailchimp are great low-cost services to help manage this sign-up process as well as for managing your email data - our Email Marketing Tips blog post covers the options in more detail.
Within your ecommerce website, it's a good idea to include a blog section or news portal. This is something that we strongly recommend as it will enable you to continually add fresh content to your site. Adding regular news stories not only provides your visitors with regular updates but it also helps with search engine optimisation, contributing to the improvement of your ranking on search engines such as Google. Use news stories to update your customers on new product launches or provide them with advice and information on useful subjects connected with your business.
Last but not least is the use of social media which has become one of the most effective forms of communication for your brand or online store. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch, Pinterest and LinkedIn allow you to build a community of followers and publish regular posts or videos to connect with your followers and publish promotional messages.
With users Liking and Sharing your posts, your social community will naturally grow and awareness of your brand and products will increase. But remember, try not to always push your sales message - it's important to engage with your audience in a social way.
If you are considering developing an Ecommerce Website and would like more information on services from myCloud Media, call us on 0800 849 0888.
Article by: Tim Bennett
myCloud Media | Yorkshire Web Designers
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