Juice Up Your Online Sales

Congratulations.  You've finally taken the plunge and set up an online store to sell the Next Big Thing, your line of fashion accessories or your household widgets.  


In the early days of e-tailing, you could just sit back and wait for the money to roll in. But in today's advanced ecommerce climate, notable for intense competition in practically every product category and bots that comb the web to find consumers the best deals, you need to be more proactive to generate sales.


Besides the daily tasks of keeping your store running, you need to advertise, promote and merchandise. Like any brick-and-mortar store, you need to constantly keep your online storefront up to date with new products, specials and offers to attract new customers and bring back existing ones.  


We live in an age where customer loyalty is an ephemeral concept, however the same technology that gives consumers the freedom to graze the Internet in search of the best deal also makes it easier than ever to stay in front of truly interested buyers and to entice them with highly targeted offers.  Whether they are at your site ready to buy or just researching their next purchase, the better you can match your offerings to their needs - and the better you can communicate that - the more likely you are to complete the sale.


Here are five things you can do right now to increase your online store revenue:

1. Cross-sell Merchandising and Promotions

In brick-and-mortar stores, those impulse items close to the cash register are huge revenue generators.  Capture online impulse buys with cross-selling (eg: "Other customers have purchased" or "You might also like") using related products displayed with single items or categories.


2. Use Modal Pop-Ups

Modal pop-ups, those windows that require visitor interaction in order to continue browsing, are very effective in capturing e-mail addresses from potential buyers.  And as you know, selling online is all about the mailing list.  Just be sure the pop-up isn't overly oppressive.  Make it easy for customers to move on without entering their e-mail by simply clicking elsewhere on the page.


3. Integrate E-mail Sign-Ups within the Checkout

Another creative way to capture e-mail addresses is by offering buyers the option to sign-up for your e-mail list from within the checkout page.  By this time, they've already decided to purchase from you, so they may be predisposed to receiving other offers and updates. 


4. Pay Attention to "Cart Abandonment" Issues

Industry research reveals a startling fact: seven out of 10 online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout, for a number of reasons ranging from running out of time to shipping cost sticker shock.  Unfortunately, this is par for the course for the online shopping experience. Wise e-tailers can implement ways to recapture these lost sales, including:


- Keeping shopping carts active for 60 days;


- Making support and phone information more prominent to aid indecisive shoppers;


- Making sure the returning shopper sees the filled cart when returning;


- E-mailing the shopper within hours of the abandonment. The e-mail could contain a one-time or time-sensitive discount, or simply ask whether the buyer had a problem with the transaction.  Even if that shopper can't be reclaimed, they might be able to provide useful intelligence.


5. Flash Sales and Promotions

Promotions are a must-have for an online store. Again, think along the lines of a brick-and-mortar store and set up a promotional calendar for the year. Include not only major holidays, but other dates of interest that appeal to your particular customer niche.  If you're a purveyor of sporting goods, for example, you might want to herald the start of the Olympics, or the World Cup soccer tournament.


Generating visits to your website, and resulting sales, may feel like an uphill battle, but with some forethought, and by applying some of the basics of marketing, you'll be able to substantially increase your site's income.  


About the Author: Bart Mroz is CEO and head of brand experience for SUMO Heavy Industries, a Philadelphia ecommerce website developer.  To contact him, e-mail bart@sumoheavy.com.  For more information, visit www.sumoheavy.com.