Sometimes running an online store can feel like trying to solve a murder mystery. Except it’s less a case of ‘whodunnit?’ and more a case of ‘why didn’t they buy it?’
If you’re not getting the amount of sales you expected or hoped for, there’s probably several good reasons, and if you’re going to see any success you need to know what those reasons are. After all, if people aren’t buying your products, you don’t have a viable business.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to solve this particular problem. Here are five elementary areas that you can investigate. Spend some time studying each of them thoroughly with fresh eyes, as if you’re viewing them through a magnifying glass. You’re bound to discover a few tell-tale clues as to why potential customers drop out before they shop.
1. Lack of Traffic
Even Inspector Clouseau, the inept detective from the Pink Panther movies could work this one out. If no one is coming to your site, then you’re not going to get any sales. What can be harder to fathom though, is why they’re not coming.
SEO is certainly important, because if you’re not showing in the first handful of results for any given search term, then you’ll never be found via Google and their competitors. A solid social media strategy is also key, not to mention a well thought through PR campaign. Attention grabbing press releases, special events and offline marketing in your local area can make all the difference when it comes to raising awareness and credibility.
2. Poor Design and Branding
So, you’ve hit upon some great tactics for driving people to your site. Maybe your affiliate program has taken off or you gifted some merch to a big name celeb and a single tweet from them has sent a surge of eager shoppers your way. It would be a horrible shame to waste that opportunity of a lifetime because your design and branding is all out of whack.
As far as branding goes, if you don’t have a strong concept and tagline behind your store then you will just blend into the background. People aren’t going to be convinced to buy if you just look like a copycat of another brand they already know and love. Your branding doesn’t stop with your logo and tagline either.
Not Just a Pretty Face
It almost goes without saying that your ecommerce store should be as stunningly attractive as you can afford. There’s really no excuse for an ugly ass store these days, when you can create a beautiful storefront in seconds with solutions like Shopify, and by investing in some professional photography if necessary. If you want to compete with established stores, you have to look the part.
However, when it comes to web design, that corny old saying that “beauty is only skin deep” really does apply. As Steve Jobs famously said, design “is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” If customers arrive at your storefront and can’t see something that attracts them immediately, the likelihood is that they’ll disappear faster than the last keg of beer at a frat party.
It’s not always easy to tell how design elements affect sales. Customer behavior can be illogical and contrary to what you expect. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to measure what people do when they reach your store.
Just like detectives rely on forensic units to analyze the cold hard facts of a case (although we’re not sure how realistic CSI Miami really is), you need to get familiar with numbers and figures fast. You can integrate Google Analytics and other services with your site and there are various A/B testing options. It’s a good idea to get familiar with those tools as soon as possible.
3. Poor Product Choice and Descriptions
Your products are as much a part of your branding as everything else on your site. It helps therefore if what you’re selling is somehow original and unique, especially if it is something not already sold elsewhere, especially on Amazon.
It also helps if you have up to date and detailed product descriptions, preferably written in an engaging style which fits with your brand’s overall tone of voice. A professional copywriter can make a massive difference when it comes to keeping potential customers reading and also persuading them to click on that buy now button.
Image size can also make a difference and it can be worth A/B testing each of these elements to see which one converts best.
4. Unclear Shopping Cart and Shipping Options
Is the price of your products the same at the end of the checkout process as it was at the beginning? No-one wants to be faced with unexpected additional charges when they think they’ve found a bargain, and people can and will abandon a purchase if they either get confused or feel like they’ve been mislead regarding shipping costs.
The best method is to be very clear upfront. Some stores now offer free international shipping and adjust their prices to allow for the extra costs. Special offers are one way to encourage sales, however you will need to have a customer retention and loyalty strategy in order to keep those customers coming back.
5. Lack of Trust
All of the above effort will be completely wasted if potential customers have any doubt as to your trustworthiness. A secure payment system is of course essential, and displaying a trustmark or security guarantee logo from the likes of Verisign will give customers the confidence to submit their personal and payment details through your site.
Social proof such as reviews, social media shares and the logos of any mainstream media outlets that have mentioned your brand are also ways to increase customer confidence.
So you’ve played the part of private detective and compiled a full dossier on how to increase your ecommerce site’s sales. Once you have changes in mind, it’s important that you’re consistent, methodical and persevere steadily with improvements.
There might be a number of adjustments you need to make over time in order to attract people through your store’s virtual doors and converting them into paying customers.
It might sound like a lot of work, but there’s a huge amount to gain – namely a loyal customer base who fill up their shopping carts to the brim and return to buy more on a regular basis. Case closed.
Do you have any questions or additional tips on how to increase ecommerce sales? Let us know in the comments.