In eCommerce, the small stuff can make a huge difference to the bottom line. This list was compiled to help online merchants get the most out of their site and set their business apart from the competition.
Your goal should always be to constantly create a value proposition that will help convert visitors into long-term custom aers. Aim to stay ahead of the curve and set the next standard of effective online retail.
Here are 22 field-tested strategies that have worked with great success for eCommerce site owners.
An excellent way to minimize customer dissatisfaction is to accurately showcase your products and all of their features. A high-quality product video is a great way to both demonstrate your products and keep visitors on your product pages for longer, which will help SEO. A good product video will inform visitors of the product’s features, what to expect, and why this product would be a good purchase, in a not too overly promotional manner.
If you don’t have the resources to commission a professional product video, it is very simple to do it yourself. Even your DIY version will add tremendous value to your product pages. All you need is an iPhone and the physical product, and you are good to go.
Merchants can showcase other similar products by adding a “Customers who bought this also liked” slider when visitors see a product page or pop-up when they add the product to their cart. Merchants can effectively upsell complementary products, and shoppers will receive tailored recommendations based on items they are already interested in.
Pro tip: If you have a free shipping with minimum order size option, include complementary items that also qualify for free shipping.
Free returns have become a perk for many online retailers, and they are a great way to combat buyer hesitation. This value-creating strategy is not without its pitfalls, however, as, if not monitored, it can drain profits extensively. Although having free returns as an option is beneficial, merchants would be wise to try to prevent returns by offering excellent service, accurate product descriptions, and high-quality pictures prior to the purchase.
If there’s one thing that online shoppers love, it’s free shipping. Offering free shipping is a guaranteed way to improve your conversion rate, but it could also drain your profit margins if done incorrectly. If you can make the offer profitable, only then should you consider offering free shipping as an option.
If you do offer free shipping, you shouldn’t hide the fact until checkout. Try including a “Free Shipping!” in your header and see how conversions change. It is recommended to do some A/B testing first to establish a conversion baseline with and without the free shipping header.
Landing pages are not only an excellent way to generate leads and direct incoming traffic to the appropriate parts of your site, but they can also be incredibly informative. Your landing pages should be one of the most value-creating aspects of your site. Having an informative landing page that captures the reason why visitors could use your service are a great way to do the thinking for your visitors.
The easy way to go about building a smart landing page is by using a service such as Unbounce or Landingpages.net. If you choose to go your own route, and you have the design expertise, you should study your Google Analytics to see if your design and content updates are making a significant impact.
If the numbers aren’t working out in your favor to offer free shipping on absolutely everything, you could set a minimum order value that customers would have to meet to qualify. This not only will save you from draining your profits but will encourage customers to buy more products from your site. Even though without shipping shoppers would not receive their goods, it is still psychologically perceived as a drain on value. By giving shoppers the opportunity to add more items in place of the shipping cost, eCommerce merchants can add value to the entire transaction.
It only takes 3 seconds for a customer to abandon a page if it’s not loading quickly enough. No matter how good your products and content are, nobody likes a slow site. Slow-loading pages are often overlooked, but they can prevent an eCommerce site from growing and scaling to its potential. Page size, complexity, and failure to compress gigantic high-quality images are the main culprits to slow site speed.
Having an English-only version of your site is a detrimental way to grow your site. Even if your focus is not on building an international business, having different language options available adds value for users in the United States for whom English is not their first language. Being able to read and navigate your site in their native language will help your visitors feel more at a home. This is exceptionally important to utilize if your eCommerce site sells products that do well with specific cultures and ethnicities.
This is where having a creative strategy will help you excel. By default, visitors are going to be hesitant to sign up for an account unless they are offered an incentive to do so. These incentives should provide them some sort of immediate benefit, such as taking 10% off their current order.
Merchants can build rapport and a relationship with customers by opening a loyalty program. Shoppers love to save, and they love rewards. Creating a loyalty program that allows customers to rack up points which could go toward something they want creates an incentive to continue shopping with you as opposed to your competitors. Having a loyal customer base will help curb marketing and advertising costs, in the long run, since you would ideally have a list of people already familiar with your brand and products.
Amazon released one-click shopping all the way back in 2000, yet this is somehow not the eCommerce standard for most small merchants. If a customer signs up for your site and has already placed an order, there is no need for them to have to re-enter the same exact information to make their next purchase. While building a long-term relationship with your customers, you should constantly be taking down barriers in the checkout process. One-click shopping makes the entire checkout process smoother and more convenient for customers.
A highly effective means of pushing checkouts is to offer a certain discount if the customer completes checkout within a certain time. The massive discount online retailer Wish.com started using a countdown timer that rewards visitors a 5% discount if they check out within 5 minutes. This gentle push also includes a monetary amount (“save $1.55 on this order!”) to help trigger a purchasing decision.
There are a handful of plugins that can help you accomplish this, such as Powr for Shopify.
The goal is to encourage checkout before shoppers get distracted or get overloaded with decisions or information. This is a great way to get creative and add value to your site. Not many merchants surprise their shoppers with free items, yet many are very eager to offer them steep discounts to check out. A pop-up with a branded and relevant item is a great way to add value to the transaction and build brand equity with your shoppers.
Amazon introduced a “Subscribe and Save” feature in 2007 that allows users to subscribe to a scheduled delivery in exchange for a discount of at least 5%. As long as you don’t plan on increasing your product prices significantly, this is a great way to foster a long-term relationship with customers.
The sheer amount of online fraud and account hacks is astounding. Both eCommerce merchants and their customers get burned with ineffective security. 20% of all small online businesses get hit by fraud every year, and 60% of those stores are forced to shut down within a few months. This makes it equally important to not only have great onsite security, but also to showcase it to reassure your visitors their session is safe. A few precautionary measures online merchants can take are:
- Set payment limits from one account.
- Monitor all transactions (physical locations, email providers, etc.).
- Use an Address Verification System to compare the billing address entered to the one linked to the card.
- Update eCommerce and security software regularly.
- Require the 4-5 digit CVV on the back of cards.
- Require stronger account passwords.
You may have seen a “hot” or “bestseller” graphic on some product pages or within a category list. Social proof tends to elicit a positive reaction from shoppers. For example, if you’ve seen that 15,000 people have bought a single type of bicycle pump, you are more likely to want to buy that bicycle pump over a similar competitor without any purchase history. This social proof data can be extracted from purchase data, Facebook likes for specific products, or a few other methods, depending on your site and its social media presence.
Sometimes, visitors just want to browse your site and are not ready for an immediate purchase. Instead of giving them only one option of adding items to a cart that eventually gets abandoned, you could create an “Add-to Wishlist” option. This will accurately reflect your cart checkout rates to focus purely on shoppers and not browsers.
If your wish list is integrated with email, you could also kindly remind visitors of their wishlist, and even send them content related to the products they were looking at.
Testimonials are an excellent way to provide personalized social proof, but they are only utilized for larger purchase products or services. However, this shouldn’t exclude merchants with less expensive goods from showcasing some sort of testimonial system. There are ways to integrate a feed of positive Tweets, Instagram posts, Pinterest pins, Facebook posts, and Tumblr posts to rotate on your homepage or as a slider on every page.
If your site has multiple products with multiple variations, inserting an honest internal review and rating system could be extremely helpful for visitors to make a decision. It is critical to allow customers to leave honest reviews because it builds an atmosphere of transparency and credibility on your site. The feedback from a bad review can be very enlightening market feedback, and it also allows you to open dialogue with customers to right any wrongs in their shopping experiences.
A great example of an online retailer utilizing this strategy is Revolve Clothing. Revolve is an apparel company that sells designer handbags, clothing, and accessories. On their homepage, they have a link to a gallery of customer-curated posts featuring their products on Instagram.
This hip and trendy gallery allows customers to participate by using the hashtag #REVOLVEME. This strategy helps build a community with customers, build the Revolve brand, showcase products to new visitors, increase social media engagement, and convince potential new customers that these products are popular and trendy.
Instead of forcing your visitors looking for the best deals into a detective hunt on each of your category pages, you could make a clearly outlined “Sales” category. This category would compile all your discounted items and promotions into a single consolidated area. This will not only help inbound traffic navigate to where they want to go, but it could also be utilized in target social media posts and other content strategies.
For example, you could create landing pages that emphasize things such as “15 Best Summer Clothes Deals in 2017” that highlight your discounted items and link to the “Sales” category page. If these pages receive traction and are optimized appropriately for search engines, you’ll be able to filter in shoppers looking for a great deal from new sources.
Many businesses have utilized a Frequently Asked Questions page to great success. By answering any possible question visitors may have, you will be able to quell any purchase hesitations, redirect them to further content on your site to learn more, establish yourself as a helpful source, and minimize the number of returns and dissatisfied customers.
We hope these strategies will be a good start to taking your site to the next level, but they are just that: a start. In order to constantly beat and outrank your competition, you must approach each strategy with an open mind and a high degree of creativity.
Onsite and marketing strategies are constantly changing, and today’s innovative tip will inevitably be ineffective tomorrow.