There are innumerable factors that affect a shopper’s buying decision.
There are obvious things, like product prices and reviews.
And there are more subtle things, like whether or not the shopper feels secure on the website or what the checkout process is like.
The reality is that if just one little thing on your site feels off or is missing, it can result in a bounce…and a lost sale.
To make sure you’re bringing in as many sales as possible, there are a number of things to keep in mind.
And that’s where this blog post comes into play. In it, I’m going to reveal what exactly you can do to quickly increase your sales.
So…ready to dive in?
1. Add Photos to Your Testimonials
If you were a shopper looking to buy, which testimonial do you think would be more likely to sway your purchasing decision? This one:
Or this one:
Most likely the second one, am I right?
Photos give life to your testimonials. Not only do they help to increase credibility (by making the testimonial itself seem more real), but they also allow your customers to connect on a more emotional level with your brand.
Whatever you do, though, don’t use fake photos or testimonials. If your customers find out, this could destroy all trust.
2. Showcase Your Best-selling Items
Have you ever followed a style trend before not so much because you loved the actual style but more because you wanted to fit in? Or done something largely because your friends are doing it?
If so, then you’ve fallen victim to the herd mentality, which is the natural human tendency for people to follow what their peers or those around them are doing.
To that end, tell your customers which of your items are most popular. And chances are, they’ll be more inclined to purchase one of them.
Amazon devotes an entire page to all of their best-selling items:
Baron Fig does the same:
Showcasing your best-selling items can be just enough to push all your newcomers or indecisive shoppers to make a purchase.
3. Create a Feeling of Urgency
Another surefire way to get your shoppers to take action immediately is to create a sense of urgency. Marcus Taylor from Conversion XL used urgency to increase his sales by 332%.
There are two types of urgency that you can take advantage of: real and implied. An example of real urgency is when you tell your shoppers that they have to buy your product within the next 10 hours or the offer will expire. Implied urgency is more subtle; it’s when you insinuate (but don’t say) that there’s a deadline by using words like “now” and “soon.”
Real urgency is more powerful, but you obviously can’t use it all the time or it’ll lose its effect. Use real urgency sparingly…and implied urgency more liberally.
How to Create Real Urgency
To create real urgency, consider making some of your products available for only a limited time…and then hold a countdown to when they’ll no longer be available. You could also hold a flash sale, discounting some of your products for a limited amount of time.
To reduce shopping cart abandonment, you could have a checkout countdown timer, telling your shoppers that the product(s) will only stay in their cart for a certain amount of time.
If you’re an Amazon shopper, then you know that Amazon does something similar; they have a countdown informing shoppers when they have to check out by in order to be eligible for next-day delivery:
How to Create Implied Urgency
To imply urgency, try adding the following time-related words to your headlines, CTAs and copy:
Check out how Lululemon uses implied urgency in one of their emails:
Very subtle..but that one extra word (“now”) does make a difference.
4. Accept a Variety of Payment Options
6% of shoppers who abandon their carts do so because there aren’t enough payment options available. So if you only allow your shoppers to pay with Visa and Mastercard, then there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on a whole lot of customers.
If your customer base tends to be of higher income, then you also might want to accept American Express. Granted, it charges higher fees than other cards, but the people who use American Express tend to have more money to spend, so the extra costs just might be worth it.
But don’t limit your payment options to just credit cards. If you accept Apple Pay, for example, then your mobile users can check out with just one click, rather than having to enter all of their payment information. Many people also prefer to pay with PayPal and Amazon Pay, so it’s a good idea to accept those payment methods, as well.
Upselling is the practice of encouraging shoppers to add more features to their purchase or buy a more expensive version of the product in question. Cross-selling, on the other hand, is the practice of encouraging shoppers to buy different, related products.
An example of upselling would be when you’re buying a car and the car salesman tries to sell you additional features, like a GPS system or a built-in WiFi hotspot. A good example of cross-selling is Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” or “Frequently bought together” sections:
Upselling Techniques to Try
I recently purchased a Macbook Air from Apple. In addition to the cost of the computer (about $1,200), they tried to sell me the AppleCare protection plan (which cost an additional $300…a quarter the cost of the laptop itself!). Now that’s good upselling.
Best Buy also does this well: They make more than half of their profits from their extended warranty plans.
If you offer high-priced products (especially electronics), you could follow in Apple and Best Buy’s footsteps and offer protection plans on your products.
Think about any additional items, add-ons or upgrades that you can offer your customers. And then display them prominently on the product pages and at checkout.
Cross-selling Techniques to Try
Bundling is probably one of the most popular cross-selling techniques out there. Bundling is when you sell a group of related items at a lower price than each cost individually. Some eCommerce companies even revolve their entire business model around bundling. Think: Dollar Shave Club.
Bundling also makes things just a little bit easier for customers. Instead of having to go and pick out each item, everything is already chosen for them.
In addition to bundling products, another popular and effective cross-selling technique is to show shoppers related items to the ones that they are looking at or about to purchase.
6. Add Security Badges to Your Site
It’s amazing how something as small and seemingly insignificant as a logo can mean the difference between a purchase and no purchase. But 19% of people who abandon their cart do so because the site doesn’t feel secure:
Your customers might not actively look for that security badge, but when it’s not there, something will feel off. A number of studies have confirmed that security badges do make an impact on conversions. As for which security badge visitors trust the most, Baymard Institute found that Norton wins by a landslide:
Note that you should only put security badges on your site if you actually have established relationships with the companies. So if you don’t have a subscription with Norton, it’s probably a good idea to sign up for one…and then showcase the Norton badge prominently on your checkout page.
7. Be Available
Let’s say one of your shoppers is in the midst of browsing through your site and suddenly has a question about one of your products. They find that they have to submit a contact form to reach you and that you’ll respond within the next few business days.
By the time you respond to them, there’s a good chance that you’ve lost the customer for good. If they don’t get the answer that they need from you right away, then they’ll likely look elsewhere…or otherwise forget about it entirely or lose interest.
A better idea? Enable a live chat on your website. Then, ensure that someone from your team mans the chat at least during normal business hours and preferably on weekends, as well. And if nobody is available to chat, at least tell your customers that, and let them know how they can otherwise reach you.
8. Offer a Guarantee
Buying online is a bit of a gamble; you never really know what you’re going to get.
For that reason, it’s imperative to have a good return policy.
If you sell a high-quality product that’s meant to last, you could offer a lifetime guarantee. Granted, you might have some people who take advantage of this policy every now and then; but you’ll likely make up for it with increased sales and customer loyalty.
You could also offer free shipping on all returned items. One study found that free product returns increased sales by 58% to 357%.
Or you could allow your customers to try out your products before committing to a purchase.
For example, the glasses and subscription eyewear company, Warby Parker, knows that selling eyeglasses to people online is a hard sell. Even with free returns, many people (myself included) don’t want to open their wallets unless they feel fairly certain about something.
So Warby Parker came up with the perfect solution: the Home Try-On program, where shoppers are able to try on different pairs of glasses in the comfort of their own homes before purchasing—no-strings-attached.
And on top of that, they offer free shipping and returns on all orders.
Like Warby Parker does, think about the hesitations that your customers would have about buying your products. And then offer them a guarantee that they can’t refuse.
9. Reduce Friction at Checkout
You work hard to bring shoppers to checkout with your beautiful product photos and enticing product descriptions. And then…they suddenly vanish into thin air!
According to Salescycle, 77% of online shopping carts are abandoned.
So what can you do to lower that percentage? For one, you could reduce friction at checkout.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
Enable One-click Ordering
In 1999, Amazon created one-click ordering:
They had a patent on it until 2017, but the patent has since expired. Which means that you now have full liberty to steal Amazon’s invention!
Allow for Guest Checkout
Don’t you just hate it when you’re shopping online and run into something like this:
As it turns out, many other people agree: 34% of shoppers who abandon their carts do so because they’re required to create an account.
If you want your customers to create an account, ask them after they make a purchase, not before. And make it as easy as possible for them to do so by allowing them to create an account via Facebook.
Use an Address-finder
Filling out forms is a pain. But you can make it easy for your shoppers by prepopulating form fields and using an address-finder:
Communicate the Total Price Upfront
The other day, I reserved a rental car online. The price was advertised online as $12 a day or a total of $26 with “all taxes and fees included.” It seemed too good to be true, so I even called the rental car company to confirm the price before going to pick up the car. They assured me that the entire cost of the car was indeed $26.
But then I got to the rental car company and was informed that it would cost me about $150 to rent the car (due to admin fees related to taking out the car etc). I was livid. I had wasted about five hours of my time and $20 getting to and from the airport (where the rental car company was).
Not only did I not rent the car in the end, but I vowed that I would never reserve (or rent) a car from that company again.
My point here? Hidden costs are never a good idea. And they will only irritate your customers.
You might think it’s a good idea to advertise a low price upfront and then add extra costs at the very end—but if you go this route, you’re certain to lose customers…and their trust.
Want proof? 55% of shoppers who abandon their carts do so because the extra costs are too high.
10. Segment Your Visitors
If you really want to generate sales, personalization isn’t an option…it’s a must.
To do so, start by segmenting your audience. Check out the pages that your shoppers visit and the items they add to their cart. Then send them personalized emails and show them retargeted ads based on their interests and behavior.
You might even want to greet your returning visitors with personalized messages on your site. Naked Wines, for instance, welcomes new visitors with a tailored home page and navigation bar:
Then once visitors sign in, they are greeted with personalized messages like so:
Once you’ve segmented your visitors, try and use Pareto’s Law to home in on the 20% of customers that are driving 80% of your sales. Present them with special offers. Show (or tell) them how much you appreciate their business. Give them a reason to keep coming back.
11. Offer Free (and Fast) Shipping
When Amazon France changed the shipping fee from one franc (20 cents) to free, the orders increased dramatically.
You wouldn’t think that 20 cents would make much of a difference in sales…but that’s how powerful FREE is.
Take advantage of the power of free and spoil your shoppers with free shipping. If you have to, you could increase the price of your products to compensate for the added cost. Then make sure you advertise free shipping across your site, so your shoppers know all about it.
12. Tell Your Shoppers Where the Coupon Codes Are
Nobody likes to feel like they’re missing out on a good deal—your shoppers included. According to Barilliance, 8% of shoppers who abandon their carts do so because they can’t find a coupon code.
So if you have a form field for a coupon code at checkout, then at least tell your shoppers where they can find the code on your site. Otherwise, you might be better off not including that field at all.
13. Make Your Value Proposition Clear
Let’s be honest: There’s a lot of competition out there. Which means that you’ve got to make it very clear to your audience why they should shop with you and nobody else.
Take a look at Zappos, for example. They sell very general products that can be found pretty much anywhere else on the web. But people shop at Zappos because of their incredible customer service. Thanks to their unique 365-day return policy, shoppers know that they can return even used products if they decide down the road that they don’t like them anymore.
Here’s another eCommerce brand with a killer unique selling proposition:
Death Wish Coffee makes it very clear what they offer: the world’s strongest coffee. They even have a warning that the coffee is “highly addictive.” Will some lighter coffee drinkers be scared off by that? Probably. But heavy coffee drinkers (or those who like their coffee strong) will probably be more inclined to buy.
Death Wish Coffee believes so strongly in their value proposition that they offer a free refund “if it’s not the strongest coffee you’ve ever had.”
When creating (or refining) your value proposition, think about something you can offer your customers that they’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Skip the jargon and fancy words and use clear, easy-to-understand language.
14. Be Benefits-oriented
At the end of the day, your customers aren’t interested in buying your products—they’re interested in finding a solution to their problem. Period.
In order to make it clear how you can solve that problem (or problems), it’s important to be benefits-oriented.
So what’s the difference between features and benefits? While features are the surface-level things about your product, like its dimensions and specs, benefits answer the question “what’s in it for me?” They’re the main reason why customers buy from you.
So, for example, some features of a Fitbit would be exercise tracking and caller ID. A few benefits would be staying motivated and losing weight.
See the difference?
Features are important to mention, but they shouldn’t be the main focus. Notice how the luggage company, Away, does it:
A major concern of travelers who want to carry on luggage is that it will fit in the overhead bin. Away addresses that concern head on.
Another main concern is buying luggage that will actually last. Away justifies the high price of the bag by stating that it’s guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Notice also how the features are only mentioned after the main benefits are stated:
Even so, there are a few areas for improvement: The word “most” is a bit vague; they could be even more specific by stating which airline bins the bag doesn’t fit in. Away could also clarify whether the bag meets European/worldwide carry-on regulations.
When creating your product pages, think about your unique selling proposition and weave that into the descriptions. What main problem is your product helping to solve? Do you sell face lotions that help to moisturize the skin without clogging the pores? Do you sell cell phones equipped with batteries that last two days? Do you sell headphones that block out all surrounding noise?
Whatever they are, focus on those benefits first and foremost. The rest is just background noise.
15. Start a Referral Program
There’s no doubt about it: Referred customers are valuable. They have a 16% higher lifetime value and 18% less churn than other types of customers.
To acquire those referred customers, try encouraging your former customers to refer their friends. Unless they’re really loyal customers, you’ll probably have to offer them some sort of incentive in exchange for the referral.
You could offer store credit. Or if you sell a high-priced product that people only buy once every so often, then a better incentive might be to offer gift cards or cash back. The mattress company, Casper, for example, gives out Amazon gift cards:
16. Start a Loyalty Program
Did you know that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one?
So rather than spending your time and resources trying to reel in new customers, try focusing instead on retaining your existing ones. One way to do that is through a loyalty program.
How to Create a Loyalty Program
If you really want your customers to get involved in your loyalty program, then you’ve got to offer them something that they can’t say no to. If you require them to spend thousands of dollars before they can get anything out of it, then you’re probably asking for too much.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t reward your high-spenders more than low-spenders. You could, for instance, create a points-based tiered model, whereby the more shoppers spend, the more they are rewarded.
You could also reward your customers for things other than spending, like trading in used products or engaging with your brand in some way. You could even reward them just for signing up, by giving them access to exclusive products, events and guidance.
Need a little inspiration? Sephora’s got a loyalty program that’s hard to beat.
On to You
Hopefully now you have a better idea of what you can do to quickly boost your eCommerce sales.
Keep in mind that the tactics mentioned above are just a starting point. And of course, there are more (time-consuming) tactics, as well, like growing your email list (and sending out personalized emails), improving your SEO, social commerce, creating high-quality product videos…and the list goes on.
Perhaps most importantly, make sure that you invest in a beautiful web design. You may have implemented all of the tactics mentioned in this post, but if you don’t have a high-quality, beautiful website, then I hate to say it, but your sales probably won’t change very much.
Need someone to create a website for you? We got you covered. Our eCommerce web design agency has a great deal of experience building and growing eCommerce stores. Get in touch to find out how we can help.