Today the simple fact is that if a small business in does not offer the ability to purchase goods or services online it is losing business. Even large-scale brick-and-mortar retailers with a loyal customer base recognise that foot traffic alone isn’t sustainable, or profitable, forever.
Living in a globally connected digital age where consumers are empowered with a range of choices at their fingertips, an effective website with eStore functionality is vital for any business looking to grow. After all, your best customer may not even live in the same country, let alone city.
But how can you get the most from your online store? To drive online sales, businesses looking to grow need to focus on attracting the right customer with the right digital marketing and incentives.
Before you have customers, you need visitors
The first step in driving online sales is attracting traffic – potential customers – to your website and eStore. You need to inform people about your online presence and the range of products available there.
Creating social-media accounts is one of the simplest (and cheapest) ways to attract potential customers. If your business is involved in food production, you can post photos of products being used in dishes, share recipe tips and show videos of meals being prepared using your products. Content-rich and visually-engaging social-media accounts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow you to target advertising based on specific demographics related to your business. This means any promotional advertising is seen by people most likely to be interested in your products.
Turning a visitor into a customer
The first purchase is always the hardest to secure from a new online visitor, so why not consider offering an incentive, or first-time purchase discount, to help secure their custom? However, simply giving away a $10 discount off a customer’s first purchase alone is a wasted opportunity. Have first-time customers fill out some contact details (including email address) to qualify for their discount. The discount code can then be sent to the contact details that they have registered.
After a customer makes their online purchase, you can further nurture them to continue shopping with you. Say the customer purchased a pair of pants —why not send them an additional 5 per cent discount on your matching scarf? This will tell you if the customer is truly interested in your products, or if the purchase was a one-time thing.
Automate to convert
Shopping-cart abandonment is a fact of life with online shopping. A customer will visit your website, select a number of items to purchase and then for one reason or another (they could simply have been interrupted prior to sale) abandon their purchase. Automated communication systems allow you to remind your customers of abandoned items in their shopping cart.
Whenever a customer has abandoned items in their cart for over a week, you can have an email sent automatically that pushes them to finish their purchase (perhaps with an added discount as an incentive). To make that reminder even more useful, you can use a recommender that automatically calculates which items the customer would be interested in based on his shopping cart or shop-browsing history. This is a great cross-selling tool to show your customers items they might not have seen yet.
Plan for success
It is not enough for a small business to build a website, integrate an eStore, or ordering functionality into their platform, and expect sales to automatically come in. To secure business in a highly competitive online shopping environment, you need to consider the best way to attract website traffic and convert a visitor into a customer.
Wayne Jasek, Director of APAC Operations, Kentico