The UK ecommerce market skyrocketed in 2020. It grew by 46.5% over the previous year – which was driven largely by the pandemic – but it is expected to continue to grow in 2021.
With rates of online buying on the rise, now is an excellent time to concentrate on your ecommerce efforts. Whether you’ve only just started selling online, or it’s your primary channel, you can always improve what you’re doing and grow your business.
Let’s explore some practices that will drive online sales and grow a successful ecommerce business .
Attract Prospective Buyers
Getting customers through your virtual doors is a big challenge – for all companies, whether they sell consumer goods or B2B services. You can’t just expect to build an ecommerce site and sit back and wait for the visitors to come.
Marketing your site through relevant channels is key to driving visitors to your site. Depending on the profile of your customers, there are several digital tactics you can consider.
If you make use of social media marketing, it’s best to choose the channels that are favoured by your prospective customers. You won’t find many professional services businesses on TikTok, for example. And conversely, an ice cream producer is unlikely to prioritise LinkedIn as a way to reach customers.
Over the past few years, content marketing has seen a lot of traction. It is an excellent way to drive traffic to your site, as well as to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership in your industry. Case studies, blog posts, white papers and ebooks are all extremely useful written content items. But don’t discount video, podcasts, infographics and webinars – which can all attract new prospects to you too.
When done right, the SEO aspects of content marketing also help by ensuring your content gets indexed by the search engines and is delivered to the people searching against your keywords.
Building an opt-in audience and communicating regularly with them builds an ongoing relationship with your customers and fans of your brand. Keeping in touch via email marketing lets you stay top of mind and allows you to deliver personalised messages and offers.
Deliver an Excellent Online Experience
Once you’ve got a prospect visiting your ecommerce store, you next need to ensure that you deliver an online experience that matches their expectations and meets their needs.
An engaging website will minimise bounce rates and encourage users to stick around longer on your pages, increasing the likelihood that they will buy from you.
A tenet of conversion rate optimisation is that you test, measure and revise your content until it is sufficiently clear and the typical customer journeys are easy and effective. The higher your conversion rates, the greater your returns, so don’t ignore this vital part of site optimisation.
Your calls to action (CTAs) should effortlessly and subtly lead a customer through your website. Pages and blog posts shouldn’t be too sales heavy. Indeed, you needn’t necessarily encourage readers to ‘buy right now’ as your call to action on these sorts of pages – especially if your sales process is lengthy or complex. Instead, you can lead them to another piece of content that will move them forwards in their buyer journey: perhaps a buying guide, comparison chart, or a signup form to subscribe to your email newsletter. Linking to your product pages throughout the body of the content is good practice though and allows those that are ready to buy to quickly and simply find what you are referring to.
On product pages, include customer reviews. This sort of social proof can encourage those that are hesitant about making the final step to purchase. When we are shown how well others rate what we’re considering buying, it gives us the confidence and trust to go ahead ourselves. For business-to-business products or services that have a larger cost or a long sales cycle, extracts from your detailed case studies can work well for this.
Behind the scenes, your entire website should be optimised so that it loads quickly, image sizes are minimised and so that your SEO (search engine optimisation) is up to scratch.
Minimise Cart Abandonment
It’s surprising how many ecommerce websites seem to have been built to positively prevent sales. Buyers are time-poor and hesitant. So, you need to make it easy for them to buy. The checkout process should be natural and simple, with as few steps as possible. If it’s too convoluted, you risk confusing or irritating your potential customers and gambling with their already limited attention.
By implementing cart recovery strategies, you can salvage some of your lost sales. Users who abandon their cart may have genuinely become distracted and forgotten to complete the purchase. Emailing them gives them a nudge – and if they were really interested, a simple reminder might be all they need. Using a cookie that saves their cart contents for when they return can increase conversion rates too, as they are not starting the shopping process all over again.
Having obscure or hidden delivery fee information is a big obstruction to sales. Buyers want to know what the delivery cost will be and only finding out at the final stage will put them off. On top of this, almost half (46.5%) of people surveyed said that they are more likely to buy from an ecommerce website that has free delivery.
Finally, don’t forget your mobile users. Mobile buyers account for nearly three-quarters of purchases, so optimising your website for mobile ecommerce will improve conversions.
Nurture Customer Relationships
It’s not all over once a customer has checked out. Don’t forget the post-purchase experience. If you get it right, then your customer will not be put off returning. You want to provide speedy delivery, with tracking, and a free and easy returns process.
Beyond this sale, you want to continue to manage the customer relationship so that it persists and evolves, increasing the chances that you will get repeat purchases and providing you with future opportunities to upsell and cross-sell these customers.
Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform
Of course, you need the right ecommerce platform to deliver all this. You want to have a clear view of your stock, sales and shipping. You want detailed insights into your customer and sales data, along with self-service options for customers to manage their account information.
You will want to choose a highly rated, popular platform that is extensible alongside your growing and evolving ecommerce operation.
If you also sell through retail outlets as well, then using omni-channel software will meet both your ecommerce and point-of-sale requirements, unifying your operations rather than siloing your data.
A single cloud-based platform like NetSuite ties your ecommerce and business operations together, allowing you to achieve a consistent, user-centric experience while giving you full control over the creativity and design of your website. It optimises the user experience for any device and provides a single ecommerce platform for selling in different languages and currencies. Contact us for more information on NetSuite SuiteCommerce.