Technology

Five easy ways to bolster your online sales

Nina Hendy /

You might make a percentage of your sales through your website, but how can you build on that? Here are five tips.

1. Build a brand, not just a website

A clear, simple to navigate website is paramount. And while you can build your own site these days, if this isn’t your area of expertise, you’re far better off hiring a website creative to do it for you.

According to the Forrester Consulting research, poor website design would deter 48% of consumers from purchasing.

The founder of online retailer Buccaneer Grooming, Rhys Furner, says you’ve got to go one step further than just building a great site though.

“Many online businesses create a website and expect sales to come through. The reality is that you need to build your brand first and foremost through establishing what your brand is all about and then executing this across social media, your website and its products. Once people come in contact with your brand, they are much more likely to buy into it if there’s brand consistency,” Furner says.

Ensure your brand is carried over to when your customer opens their order, he adds. “Do something cool that your competitors don’t do and ensure the customer journey is continued post-purchase.”

2. Be clear about how parcels are sent

Shipping-related concerns are a crucial factor in consumer’s decision-making process when considering purchasing offshore, according to a new study.

More than half of Australian consumers stated that shipping costs determined their decision to make an online purchase overseas.

Commissioned by FedEx Express, the study was conducted by Forrester Consulting to examine global consumer behaviour cross-border e-commerce. The research provides key insights for SMEs looking to expand nationally.

“The research study highlights that consumers’ trust in the overall shipping experience is key to winning online customers from other markets,” Kim Garner, managing director, FedEx Express Australasia says.

“Customers need to have confidence that they can return items easily and have access to dependable shipping service.”

3. Remove payment barriers

There’s nothing worse than having to register as a new site user, all your address information and the rest before being taken to the payment section.

Bolster your sales by making it easy for customers to access and pay through your site. Because, the reality is that if you don’t make it convenient, customers will take their business elsewhere.

In addition to easy payment solutions make sure you’re offering great customer service.

Milan Direct’s founder and chief executive Dean Ramler says he’s got a dedicated customer service team in place.

“We have live chat functionality on our website, so customers can jump on the chat and get an instant response from one of our customer service team, and we also offer 24/7 customer support.”

4. Get serious about SEO

The single biggest mistake that SMEs make when it comes to search engine optimisation is duplicating the meta descriptions, (which refers to the meta tag that describes the page) on every page of their website, according to Louder Online general manager Aaron Agius.

“We see it time and time again when businesses come to us. Meta data should be unique on every single page so that you’re widening the scope in a search.”

Agius also sees small businesses trying to save a few bucks with SEO by outsourcing this process offshore, which can result in unnatural links being created, which are penalised by Google. Regularly updated, fresh content will also help you in the search stakes.

5. Offer free shipping

Amazon first offered free shipping in 2002 for a minimum spend. But today, free shipping is becoming the norm.

According to Forrester Research, free shipping trumps fast shipping for web shoppers. It found that consumers cite low prices and low delivery costs as the top two reasons for revisiting an online store.

However, absorbing the costs of free shipping can be financially painful for small online merchants, who are implementing free shipping in order to keep up with the major retailers.

National Online Retail Association executive chairman and chief executive Paul Greenberg says that free shipping is a very powerful lever for customer engagement online. The key is for online retailers to find a way to make the shipping part of the sale appealing to consumers.

Offering free shipping over a certain threshold is a popular approach, he says.

“I think that shoppers recognise that somewhere along the line, someone has to pay for free shipping, and that it’s more likely to be them (the customer), than the retailer. My advice is for online retailers to do the numbers and be sure that offering free shipping is actually a sustainable strategy for their business.”

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