How to get more sales online

When you sell online, you have to constantly think about how to get more sales online. In this guide, learn how to use marketing skills to create a stronger connection with the online shopper. Find out how to map out and improve your customer experience journey. And, finally, learn the importance of setting up a customer-centric culture. 

How to get more sales online

How this guide raises your game.

  1. Learn how key marketing skills like market research and brand identity improve your online sales. 
  2. Find out how to make your products more e-Commerce friendly in the customer experience journey.
  3. What you need to create a customer-centric E-Commerce culture. 

As we cover in our guides to e-Commerce planning and online retailers, there are quick and easy options to start selling online.

You can access marketplaces and list your products in less than a few hours, for example. But just because your products appear in an online store, that doesn’t mean anyone will buy them.

Online shoppers can choose from millions of online stores. And each of those stores can have hundreds, even thousands of products. 

So, in this guide we look at what you can do to drive sales online. We cover on 3 key focus areas that can raise your e-Commerce game.

Three brains e-Commerce symbolic open shop sign

Ready to test your knowledge?

What’s your starting level of knowledge about how to get more sales online?

Take the 2 minute, 5 question Three-brains how to get more sales online quiz and see how much you know about how to get more sales online already.


How to get more sales online – 3 key focus areas

Firstly, we’ll show how marketing skills support online selling. Market research helps you work out what consumers need. Brand identity helps you create strong brands that consumers want. And marketing plans drive activity that drive people to your product pages, and persuade them to buy.

Then, we’ll talk about the e-Commerce customer experience. What are the key steps where you interact with online shoppers? How do you influence the online customer experience journey to make a sale more likely? Your aim is to create long-term loyal buyers. But online shoppers might not even know yet, that you are available online.

And then finally, we’ll cover the importance of creating a customer-centric culture in your business. Culture is the way things get done in your business. So, you need the right approach to people, leadership and environment to make this come to life in how you sell online.

How to get more sales online – marketing skills

Let’s start with how you use marketing skills to answer how to get more sales online. 

So, firstly, the use of market research to better understand online shopper needs. 

Then, how you match those needs to what your brand stands for through the segmentation, targeting and positioning process. 

And finally, how your positioning statement then drives your brand identity and marketing plan.

Welcome to marketing billboard sign to introduce our integrated marketing approach

How to get more sales online – Market research

Our guide to the market research process shows the first step as defining the business problem. So, if your question is how to get more sales online, then you’ve already started to define that problem. 

But on its own, that’s quite a broad question. 

So, let’s look at what other research questions you should explore to refine your market research brief.

You can build these questions using the 5W questioning approach, that’s commonly used in areas where you need to gather new information.

Market research process - Define problem, research problem, analyse and put answer into action

These 5Ws are who, what, where, when and why. Each of these frames key questions that you ask to explore an overall topic.

In this case, how to get more sales online.

Who

Firstly, who is your ideal online customer? Can you build a picture of them, and bring them to life for others? Market research can help you build this picture as you can gather data about actual customers.

So, who currently shops online in your category for example? How do you identify them? Do they share any common characteristics? Are there similarities in demographic variables  – age, gender, income, where they live for example? 

Are there any common behavioural variables? Do people buy the same products all the time, or do they tend to buy a range of products, for example? 

Your market research into who the online shoppers is helps you begin the segmentation, targeting and positioning process that we’ll come back to shortly. 

What

You can then expand out from who, to ask more what questions. So, what needs do online customers currently have? And what do they currently do about it? What products do they currently buy online? 

These types of questions give you a benchmark of existing online shopping behaviours. They help you know more about the competition. This gives you great context to identify how your online selling experience will be different and better than what’s already on offer. 

Where

So, if you know what online shoppers buy, the next question then is where. Where do they shop online? Which online retailers do they visit? Do they get the information they need to buy on that site? Or, do they check out brand sites first? 

When they go on the online retailer site which pages do they go on? Do they browse the category? Or, do they go straight to the product page? 

And even before they buy, where do they spend time online generally? Which digital media channels do they use? And on which of these channels do they see advertising that drives them to online stores? 

These types of questions help you refine your overall e-Commerce strategy. They help you decide to sell through online retailers and / or to sell direct to the consumer. 

These where questions help you set online distribution targets for your brand. Where does it need to appear so online shoppers will buy it?

When

Online stores never close. They are open 24/7, 365 days a year. But, that doesn’t mean people shop all the time. There will be certain times of day or days of the week or times of the year, when they are more likely to buy.

If you can identify when these key times are, that has important implications for when you carry out online activities. You want shoppers to see your brands at the times they are most likely to buy. So, this affects timings of when you run media and sales promotions, for example. 

Why

The final 5W question then, is to dig more into why. Why questions usually require qualitative research.

They can be the hardest questions to answer. But also, the most important to create winning e-Commerce experiences. 

Online shoppers may not think deeply about why they choose particular products or use particular online stores.

You may need to start with some generic hypotheses about why people shop online, and let your research evolve from there. 

 

Forest and tree image with question mark symbolisinging strategy

So, as we cover in our article on online shopper needs, most “why” answers for online shopping fall into either ease and convenience, range or price.

But if you probe on these areas, each of these has deeper levels of insights. And they are not mutually independent.

So, for example, which is more important, price or convenience? Would you rather have the convenience of same day delivery, but pay $10 extra? Or, be prepared to wait a week, but have free shipping?

Market research can help you answer these types of questions.

Market research methodologies. 

Your research questions would then feed into a market research brief. This defines what you need to know about online shopping for your business. 

The answers to the research questions will then come from online shoppers themselves. These answers will clearly gives you direction on how to get more sales online.

Depending on the size of your business and budget, your market research approach may cover one or more of the research methodologies. 

Secondary research is relatively quick and low cost. But, it may not give you the detail you need. 

 

Market research brief template

Qualitative research certainly helps you dig deeper on the important ‘why’ question. And, it can help you develop ideas and concepts to test. But it takes longer and costs more.

And quantitative research helps you validate those ideas and concepts and prove business cases. That’s important if you need the validation to secure investment and want more certainty. But quantitative research take the longest time, and it’s the most expensive to run.

How to get more sales online – Segmentation, targeting and positioning

It’s likely that your market research will show that not all online shoppers are the same.

There will be different groups or segments who share similar attributes. And these segments may be different sizes and require different marketing approaches. 

So, it’s important you can identify these different segments, and identify which are the most attractive and relevant.

This helps you set up your business to best meet those opportunities.

3 steps of the process - Segmentation - divide the total marketing, targeting - pick the most attractive, positioning - build your brand

Ideally, you would carry out a segmentation, targeting and positioning approach for your sales online. You may already have done this as you built your brand. But, even so, you still need to factor in the impact of online selling.

Segmentation

Online shopping segments may not be the same as segments of shoppers who shop in traditional channels. They may be different sizes. Or have different attributes that distinguish between them. 

So for example, the demographic splits might be different. You might have younger shoppers who have grown up with online shopping. They might be more comfortable using the technology. 

Or you might have older shoppers who are less mobile, and find it harder to go out. They might shop online for the added convenience of not going to a store. 

Shopping occasions and times can vary from traditional retail segments. 

So, you might have a segment of shift workers, or parents with newborn children. These segments can find it difficult to get to traditional stores during the day. But online shopping is convenient because it lets them shop at times that suit them.

You might also find segments who buy in bulk quantities on behalf of others. So, tea and coffee supplies for offices and businesses, for example. Or other areas where groups come together. We know of one category where prisons, hospitals and day care centres are the biggest online shopping segment, for example. 

These online shoppers value the convenience of having large quantities delivered. 

Targeting

From this identification of segments, it’s important then to identify the highest potential segments. You would use a market attractiveness approach and identify attractiveness variables. 

The variables you use will depend on what you were able to identify during the market research process. 

But clearly, the amount that people spend online, and how often they buy would be factors to consider.

You’d also want to consider the level of competitiveness for each segment. If online shoppers already buy something and are happy with it, it’s going to be harder to get them to change their behaviour. 

 

Market segment attractiveness blank template

When it comes to e-Commerce, your targeting approach also depends on whether you use online retailers, set up your own store, or both.

Because online shopping generates a large amount of data, online retailers may already have their own segments that they can share with you.

This segments might be based on past online shopping behaviour, where people live, or what time of day they shop, for example. So you could target heavy, medium or light users. Or, shoppers in a particular city or region. Or, shoppers who shop early in the morning or late at night.

And when you have your own online store, you have direct access to all this sort of data. So, you can use this data to test out what you think the segments and best targets are. This generates new data, that you can use to refine your approach.

Positioning

You’d then finish this part of the process with your positioning statement. This clarifies who your target audience is. It clarifies the benefit that your “product” provides. And in the case of online shopping, it stretches the frame of reference to include the context of it being sold online. 

This can take you into some of the benefits that we mentioned previously, like ease and convenience, range and price. But it can go beyond those. For example, the frame of reference could also cover service offers like speed of delivery, or customisation of the product. 

The positioning statement is the summary of what the brand is, what it offers and what its competitive set is. It then also covers the key point of difference based on the benefit, reason why and reason to believe to show why consumers would and should buy it. 

This then helps you define your brand identity.

How to get more sales online – Brand identity

Brand identity is a combination of tangible and intangible assets that defines what your brand thinks, feels and does.

It defines what your brand looks and sounds like with consistency and clarity.

Brand identity helps consumers find you, and helps them connect with your brand. 

When it comes to how to get more sales online, it’s important to flex your brand identity so that it fits the context of online sales. 

 

Brand identity asset classification - intangible - tangible - rules - playbook

Do your essence, values and personality come through clearly in your advertising and your packaging and on your product page, for example?

Use a framework like the brand identity wheel, to make sure key tangible assets are suited to selling online.

Does the fact you are selling online change any of what the shopper might answer on “how it makes me feel” or “what it says about me” for example?

When you make sure your brand identity fits what the online shopper is looking for, you build trust and consistency. You remove barriers to online selling. This increases your chances of selling more online.

Brand identity wheel

How to get more sales online – Marketing plan

The final marketing skill to support online selling is then your marketing plan.

This should cover the different “P” elements of the marketing mix such as product, price, promotion, place, people, physical location and process. 

These “P”s then informs what you do, how you do it and when you do it.

Your marketing plan drives activity in key areas like advertising, digital media channels and online sales promotions.

Marketing mix 4Ps and 7Ps example variables

Read our guide to the e-Commerce planning process for more detail on how and where e-Commerce connects to the marketing plan.

How to get more sales online – Customer Experience

Though you can include customer experience as part of a broader marketing strategy, it has such an impact on e-Commerce, you should consider it in its own right.

It’s an important process to identify how to get more sales online. 

Customer experience development combines marketing and technology into an approach that aims to improve every interaction the customer has with your brand. 

Customer Experience Development process

Personas

This approach brings together a number of processes, tools and software systems.

You can use customer experience tools in conjunction with the marketing skills outlined above, to help bring to life the target and the plan. 

So, for example, customer personas help visualise “who” your ideal customer is.

You can use these templates in segmentation, targeting and positing to then inform your briefs on advertising, for example.

Or, to create sales copy and run sales promotions.

Customer Experience Personal Template Blank.001

Customer Journey Map

The customer journey map helps you identify the key touchpoints where the online shopper interacts with your brand.

With this map, you can identify specific digital media channels for example to make consumers aware.

You can identity key parts of the store website to drive consideration and conversion.

The map can identify ‘pain points’ the online shopper feels at each stage, and drive you to look for solutions to those pain points. 

When you simplify down what needs to happen with e-Commerce customer experience, there are really five key areas to focus on.

Customer Experience Journey Map

Digital media

Clearly, online shoppers need to know your page exists, and to visit it, if you’re to have any chance of selling online.

So, clearly a great way to start on how to get more sales online, is to make people aware of the product page. And persuade them to visit it. 

So, you need activities like advertising and public relations to drive awareness.

But, you want to prioritise key digital media channels like search, social and display advertising to make it easy for online shoppers to reach your product pages.

e-commerce planning process - 5 key steps in e-commerce experience

You can check out our separate guide for more detail on how to do this.

But once, you create awareness, and online shoppers visit your product page, how do you then influence them to buy?

Shop website – product pages

This is an important step when it comes to how to get more sales online. When a shopper visits your product page, it’s a strong indication there’s an interest in buying . 

The way you present your product and product information on this page is important. As part of the customer experience journey, it’s where the shopper makes the decision to buy. 

Or, not. 

And actually, it’s usually “not buy”. 

As we cover in our article about D2C costs and how they freak out accountants, the average conversation rate (so the percentage of buyers to visitors) is normally only around 2%. 

2%.

That means 98% of the people your advertising dollars encourage to visit the page, don’t generate you any sales. So, that means you need a lot of visitors. And, you need to do everything you can to push up that 2% conversion rate. 

But, the good news is there are things you can do. E-Commerce sellers who’ve made product pages which outperform this 2% are open about the principles they use to do it. And while these principles don’t guarantee sales, ignoring them almost certainly guarantees that you won’t sell. 

So, implementing these basic product page principles should be part of your customer experience development.

That applies both to when you have you own store website, or you manage your product pages on an online retailer’s site. 

When you do go through an online retailer, you have to work around their systems and way of working. But as we covered in a recent article, most retailers will expect you to supply brand assets that meet these basic principles. 

Product pages – basics

At the simplest level, you need to create three core elements for every product page. You need the product name, product image and product information. Product pages can and do clearly contain more than those three, as we’ll go on to cover. But, you really need to start with getting these three elements correct.

Product name

Your product name needs to be clear, consistent and easy for online shoppers to find. This might seem obvious. But, the product name has to be able to identity very specific variations of a product. And, that can get more complicated.

 

How to get more sales online - 3 key basic of a product page - product name, images and information

So, your product name will likely consist of a couple of different elements that help consumers narrow down and identify exactly what the product is. If you sell on an online retailer site, the first element would likely be the brand name. Then you’d include a sub-brand name to narrow down what the actual product is. And then, you might need to include a third product identifier to specify the exact product.

It’s easier to understand how this works, when you look at real-life examples.

Example – Coca-Cola

So, for example with this Coca Cola product name listing on Amazon. 

The brand name is clearly Coca-Cola. But that also covers all Coca-Cola variants like Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke and so on. But then, with the sub-brand name, Classic, your choice is narrowed.

And then the product identifier is the pack size – Multipack cans 36 x 375ml. With these three elements, you know exactly the product you will get. 

Amazon Coca-Cola product page

Example – Levi’s

Let’s look at a fashion example. 

Here the brand name is Levi’s. But that covers a wide range of products. 

The sub-brand then narrows it down to “Men’s 501 Original Fit Jeans”. With this, we then know exactly who it is for and what the style is. 

At this point, we haven’t narrowed it down to the specific size of the jeans in the product name. That is the product identifier.

 

Levi's Amazon page

But look at the page, and you can see this size selection is right there under the product name.

Behind the scenes, the full product name in Amazon’s systems will include the size. It needs to so the warehouse will find the right product.

But, for the shopping experience, Amazon have chosen to make it easier by having you pick the Brand / Sub-brand and then size in two separate choices.

There’s a balance here, between giving enough information in the product name to make it easy to find and identity. And not giving too much information, and making it confusing.

In general, it’s better not to ask the shopper to deal with any more than three elements of the product name at any one time.

So, if you look back at the example above from our online shop, we’ve organised the product name with three elements. Design name – Gender – Product Type. So, “New Zealand Invention – Men’s Premium Tank Top” for example.

Like most of our products, there are then different size and colour options. And these are indeed, all part of the product name in the back-end systems. But the shopper picks them only after they find the design and style they like.

Product Images

Online shopping in many categories is driven by visual appeal. So, you want to make sure that your product photography creates this appeal and drives sales.  

But even before that, you need to make sure it’s accurate and up-to-date. 

If a consumer orders a product based on an old or misleading image, they will be disappointed if something different arrives. This can lead to complaints and requests for refunds. And, possibly even legal action. 

Obviously, not a good thing. 

Three brains shop product selection page

Product image checks

To make your product photography appealing you need to think about how it’s lit and what the background and context will look like.

In low involvement and functional categories, where the product is the “hero”, you will want to keep backgrounds simple and unobtrusive. But in high involvement or emotional categories, it can create more impact to include lifestyle shots. These types of shot show the product in action, either with models, or with props. 

You also want to make sure that the image is a high resolution and quality. So, if the site allows the shopper to zoom in on the product for example, it needs to stay sharp and readable. However, the file size needs to be not too large, or it’ll be slow to download on the page. Most sites define the optimum file size and image dimensions they need. 

In most cases, it also helps to show the product from multiple angles, so front, back, top and sides for example. It can help if the shopper has a 3D rather than 2D view of the product. 

You also want to consider how many product images to show. When it’s someone else’s site like with bricks and clicks or pure players, they control how many images you can show. 

But if it’s your own store, you choose how many and which products to show. Try to find a good balance. You want to pick enough to make an impression, but also not so many it overwhelms the shopper. Ideally, something around seven plus or minus two is around the optimum number to include. 

Finally, you also need to consider how you will supply and manage the product imagery. This might be as simple as sending an email to the online retailer. But, as we cover in our article on product page management, you often manage images through online spreadsheets, or third party services like skuvantage.

And finally, it’s also worth checking what your packaging actually looks like on screen. If you developed your packaging to stand out on shelf in a physical store, that doesn’t mean it will still work in digital formats. We cover how packaging and e-Commerce need to work together in another article.

Product information

The next product page requirement is then to supply all relevant product information. This information usually comes from the packaging.

It will include a combination of mandatory information, such as nutritional and allergy information on food products, and key selling messages.

These selling messages should cover key features and benefits to help persuade the consumer to buy.

It’s important to apply good sales copy principles. 

 

How to get more sales online - 3 key basic of a product page - product name, images and information

You also want to double check basic spelling and grammar to make sure there are no mistakes. These look unprofessional and can impact sales. When you spot mistakes, you need to fix them quickly.

Either fix it yourself in the product information management system, if you can. Or, let the online retailer know there’s a mistake.

In addition, you also need to think about how to make this product information content search friendly. You should make sure you know the key principles of writing for search, and use them.

What keywords do you need to factor in, for example? And how do you make sure all the metadata is set up correctly to make it search friendly?

Once you have the product name, product images and product information in place, it’s time to look at what else you can do. There are more areas you can influence to help you with how to get more sales online.

Product page checklist

As you can see, with our detailed product page checklist, there are a number of other areas to consider after the first three. 

Let’s look at each of these in turn, and review what’s possible to improve the sales performance of your product page.

Price

Obviously, price is one factor that influences whether the online shopper’s decision to buy. So, you need to make sure the price is easy to find on the product page. And, on any navigation pages. 

 

How to get more sales online - detailed product page checklist

On product pages, the price normally appears near the product name, and the call to action button.

On navigation pages, it’s usual to find it below the product image.

Price operates at two levels. 

Firstly, at a marketing level, it’s part of the overall marketing mix, as we cover in our guide to the marketing plan. It reinforces the brand positioning as to whether your products are high price / high quality, or valued priced / accessible for all. 

But then secondly, at a sales level, you can add promotional price discounts as we cover in our guide to sales promotions. These can help persuade consumers they are getting a good deal at the price, or that they will miss out on the deal if they don’t buy. 

When used online, you should also consider how you present the price. There is evidence that smaller fonts make consumers perceive price as less than bigger fonts for example. And you can use the principles of psychological pricing to, for example, decide whether to include decimal points or round the price up to the nearest dollar. 

Call to action

You also want to make sure the “call to action” button is clear and captures attention. The “call to action” is what you want the online shopper to do next. 

It’s common to play around with colour and typography on the call to action button to make it stand out and be easy to recognise. It should have a clear action such as “Buy now” or “Add to cart” to make it obvious, what you want the online shopper to do next.

So, in our example above, we add a green background to the “Buy Product” box to make it stand out more. Our normal Call to Action buttons are white font, on a red background.

This is the only time on our site we use a different button colour scheme. It helps to show that it’s a different action from just visiting another page. 

While “Buy now” is your obvious call to action at the point of purchase, you can also build in other calls to action at different points of the online shopper experience.

For technical or detailed products, the call to action might be to book a consultation or a call-back, for example. After the shopper buys the product, the call to action could ask them to comment, or leave a review of their experience.

Customer reviews from real shoppers are a great sales and marketing tool. They feel independent and unbiased to other customers. 

So, they do a double job. They help you track how happy your customers are. And, they persuade other customers that you offer a good online shopping experience. 

Even if you only ask customers for feedback and don’t publish it, giving customers the opportunity to tell you how you have done builds trust and confidence in your brand. 

Category filters

Each product page needs to fit into the overall navigation hierarchy of the site. This is done with the URL set up of each page. A filter usually defines a group of products and each product page within that group becomes an extension of the filter page URL. 

Think about these filters as the digital equivalent of aisles in an actual store. They group similar products together so that they are all in one place. It makes it easier for the online shopper to compare similar products. You normally find these filters in the navigation bar. They are also used to create the URL naming structure of pages within the site. 

So for example, let’s say hypothetically, we were selling this T-shirt design on amazon.com. 

To make it easier to find this product, we’d adjust the category filters. And these filters would then help to build the URL for the design. So, for example the filters might be T-shirts, then men’s T-shirts and then our product name. 

So, the URLs would build like this …

Category : amazon.com/tshirts

Sub-category : amazon.com/tshirts/mentshirts

Product URL : amazon.com/tshirts/mentshirts/ threebrainsnumberonetshirt

The owner of the online store website usually decides on this hierarchy of the navigation.

They should do this based on market research with consumers to see how they navigate the site and find products. 

Come and have a go Mens Long Sleeve Spreadshirt LoRes

It is the type of site functionality which you can test and evolve over time. The navigation hierarchy also helps with search functionality. It makes it more obvious to search engines what the product page is about.

Search

Which brings us on to the next check on the product page. 

Though shoppers can find their way to the page using the category filters, they may also search on the product directly. They can do this on Google. Or, they can use the internal search function that normally comes with e-Commerce sites. 

If you have written your sales copy to include the product name and product description using the principles of SEO copywriting, then your product should appear when shoppers search for it. 

If the product doesn’t appear, you should review your SEO approach and diagnose if there are any issues. It may be that Google for example takes some time to index the page, and it appears a few days after you publish it.

 But every time a shopper searches and the page doesn’t appear, you potentially lose a sale. So, it’s an important part of your product page to test. 

You also want to consider what to do on paid search if online retailers are bidding on the same search terms as you. This can push the price of paid search up. So, you would want to review your digital media strategy to make sure that search enquiries go to the right place. 

Search queries to learn more about the brand for example, you want to push to your brand website. But search queries where “buy” in included in the search query, really need to go to a shopping website, either an online retailer or your own store.

Responsive

The final check on your product page is to see how it appears on different devices. How does it appear on desktop, tablet and mobile phones? Most websites are now set up to be “responsive”, which means they adapt their display to the device being used. 

This can affect the orientation of images (portrait and landscape), the size of fonts and buttons and even how much information is displayed. Mobile formats for example usually need bigger images and buttons and have less room for long copy. 

 

In the example video from our shop when you view the page in portrait on a mobile phone, you can see text and images “fit” the screen. Even though the space is very different from a wide screen as seen on a desktop.

But when you tilt the phone and look at the same content in landscape mode, everything readjusts to fit the screen size.

Most shoppers wouldn’t even notice that this happens.

But if you HAVEN’T set up the site to be responsive, they certainly will notice. Images and text might float off the screen, or look really tight and cramped. These can reduce the trust that the shopper feels in the online shop, and so reduce the chances of a sale.

Payment, delivery and customer service

How much you need to be involved in the payment, delivery and customer service comes down to whether you manage your own online store, or whether you sell through online retailers.

When you manage your own online store, this part of the customer experience is normally called Order to Delivery. In our separate guide, we cover each of the elements of how it works. 

So, how to set up payments so they go securely from the customer to your bank. How to manage storage, and the physical transportation of the products. And some of the typical customer service scenarios that you may need to manage like lost orders, damaged orders and claims for refunds. 

From a customer experience point of view, you need to test each of these systems as though you were an actual customer. Look at how to make it as easy as possible for the shopper. 

Friction points

Ideally, once the customer places an order, they shouldn’t actively need to do anything else until the product arrives. Any time the customer has to do something, this creates a friction point. You should aim to reduce or remove these. 

You can do this by keeping the consumer informed of the progress of the order, for example. Automated messages that show that the order has been received, processed and dispatched reassure the shopper their product is on the way. 

Tracking links from the courier help consumers physically track the location of the product. Anything that lets them know when their product will be delivered again helps to remove these potential friction points. The less friction points the smoother the experience. 

You also want to consider how to remove friction points that can affect your business. So, consumers who receive a package and claim it wasn’t delivered, for example. Most delivery companies will now get a signature when they deliver an item. Or they’ll take a photo of the delivery, if the shopper has given “permission to leave” the product. 

Having clear FAQ sections and contact details helps boost the confidence of the shopper in your e-Commerce system. After all, they have already paid the money for the goods. So, they depend on the efficiency of your order to delivery process to get the product to them quickly and in one piece.

Follow-up contacts to make sure the customer is happy, or to make complementary offers or share ideas can help build longer-term goodwill and drive repeat purchases. You should aim to set up your CRM systems to help you do this.

Repeat business is usually where e-Commerce businesses get a solid base of sales to grow their business.

Three-brains FAQs screenshot

More advanced options – How to get more sales online

The list we cover above is the basic list of variables you would check on ANY e-Commerce site. They are the minimum requirements to sell well online. 

But depending on your online retailer strategy, and who you choose to work with, there are more advanced e-Commerce activations you can explore.  

Here’s a list of some of the more common examples. 

Online exclusives

As we cover in our guide to the e-Commerce planning process, you can use the principle of scarcity to boost particular products online. 

You can make certain products online exclusives. When you choose not to make certain products available in other channels, it makes them seem scarce, and therefore more desirable. It plays on a psychological fear of missing out on something. 

The consumer feels like they are getting something special, or extra that’s not available to everyone.

Online retailer loyalty programs 

When you work with online retailers, they obviously have data about who buys, what they buy and how often they buy. 

While privacy laws mean you won’t have direct access to this data at an individual level, you can still use it to grow your sales. Using retailer shopper data is an important part of how to get more sales online. 

Because while you can’t see the identity of individual shoppers, you can identify groups of shoppers who share certain characteristics. 

These characteristics can be demographic (target all men over 35 in Sydney for example) or behavioural. 

So, behaviourally, this could be shoppers who visit a particular part of the retailers website. Or who respond to a particular type of sales promotion. 

Targeted offers

Online retailers can help you reach out to these groups of shoppers with targeted messages. This lets you run very specific target online sales promotions. 

You can for example target specific online shopping behaviours, like shoppers who have bought in the past, but not bought for a long time. Or, shoppers who buy competitor brands.

Or, if you sell products that can be bought in bulk, let’s say tea or coffee, you can identify people who buy these in large quantities. Say, someone who buys them as supplies for their office or business.

You can even use other products someone has bought as a way to identify consumers. So, for example if you sell products in the mum and baby category. If you can identify shoppers who have “started buying nappies in the last 3 months”, you can be highly certain those shoppers are new parents.  

These online shopper activities and promotions are essentially the same CRM type activations you can do if you have your own email list. But of course, as we cover in our guide to marketing technology, you need to make sure that the retailer complies with all the necessary data privacy and anti-spam legislation. 

These promotions can also run on the store website where with either cookie data or signed in members, you can serve promotions only to shoppers who meet specific criteria, rather than making the offer available to everyone. 

Education or inspring content

If you work in a category, where there is a high level of information needed to support the purchase and / or the shopper finds the product involving, there’s an opportunity to add extra content over and above the basic product information.

So, perhaps you have video content on how to use the product, or how it is made? Perhaps your advertising is funny or entertaining? Maybe you have online tools that consumers can interact with that help them make a decision.

Depending on the store website, you can add these sorts of digital content to make the shopping experience more enjoyable and helpful, and to drive more sales. 

Services

Depending on the category, you may also be able to add more services into the product page. 

So, in our guide to the e-Commerce planning process, we talk about subscription models, where the replenishing of products is handled automatically.

Or if you have products that are health related, you can offer access to professional advice, or content that helps people make the right choices. 

If your product relates to a particular purpose or cause, you can link to content that helps show how the purchase helps that purpose or cause.  

Shop in shop

More advanced online retailers also offer the opportunity to set up what they call a “shop within a shop”. These are the digital equivalents of branded concessions that you find in department stores. You take over a whole section of the online retailers site, rather than have a collection of individual product pages. 

This lets you create a highly branded experience, where you have more control over the message and what the online shopper sees. 

While this will drive more online sales, it’s also likely the online retailer will charge you for the privilege of taking up more online “space” on their website. It’s important to plan your sales target to make sure the level of investment is viable. 

Links

Finally, you also want to consider how linking works between the online retailers website and your website. 

In general, online retailers want to keep shoppers on their site. The longer they are on the site, the more they spend. For them to link to your website, you need to convince them of the value of the content you can provide, and how it benefits the online shopper experience. 

However, you can also choose to link from your own website to the stores. 

If you don’t sell direct, you can drive visibility of where your product is sold, and give consumers options of where to buy. Some vendors like Numerator can automate this process, so that any changes on the retailer website feed back into how the link appears on your website. 

Final thoughts on customer experience in e-Commerce

We’ve identified many of the common touchpoints you can use to persuade and convert online shoppers to buy your products. But how you best bring that to life at each stage, means you also need to build this into your marketing plans.

And then that plan, needs to be put into action

The needs you uncover with market research, and your brand identity need to come together at each of these touchpoints. 

Planning to action - Man leaping a gorge to show leap from marketing plan to brand activation

They need to give a consistent experience that builds confidence in the online shopper. You want them to feel connected to your brand and how it is sold online.

It’s important to review and optimise each stage. This can feel like an overly detailed part of the process. But, often small improvements can drive large changes in behaviour. And this will have a positive uplift in online sales.

You want to remove any potential barrier or reason to not buy. Ideally, try to make it so it’s actually easier to buy online than not. Using a customer experience approach is an important habit to get into, when you are trying to answer how to get more sales online. 

How to get more sales online – customer-centric culture

You would normally define the culture of your business as “how things get done around here”. Organisational culture is a large topic in its own right, but if we narrow it down to e-Commerce and how to get more sales online, it comes down to three main areas – people, leadership and environment. 

People

The most successful e-Commerce sellers really understand their customers and what they want and need. They take a customer-centric approach. This means they build a willingness and desire to find out what people need. And, they create solutions that meet those needs.

Successful e-Commerce businesses know that the key to how to get more sales online is to create happy customers. 

So, you need to look for this customer-centric approach for anyone you work with in selling your products online. That can be anyone from whoever designs your advertising, runs your digital media channels and sets up your website to who manages any of the functions of e-Commerce.

You want to bring diverse working styles to e-Commerce, but align people and teams behind a common goal.

Use a customer-centric approach to answer how to get more sales online. 

You need to build it in to the way you work by making clear it’s a priority.

It should be part of the values of your brand identity, that reflect your closeness to the customer. 

In practical terms, there’s a lot you can do to encourage the right behaviours.

 

The three monkeys of e-Commerce - Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil to highlight e-Commerce personality types

Encourage the right behaviours

Encourage your team to look for online shopper insights. Position it as a positive behaviour to be insight and data hungry.

Make it rewarding for them to help customers fix issues when there are problems. Highlight good behaviours and positive comments and feedback from satisfied customers.

Look for people who have the skills to create customer experiences that resonate with online shoppers. At each of those key touchpoints in the journey, look for people who can create engaging content. Or, who have the technical skills to reduce and remove friction points.

Because e-Commerce technology lets you test and learn ideas and concepts relatively quickly and cheaply, you want to build this in to your approach with your team.

You want to have a high level and long-term plan, so you know where you are going. But don’t be too rigid. It’s more important to be flexible and agile to take advantage of opportunities and trends.

Every change in the customer experience, every advert or social media post and every sales promotion is a way to learn more about the customer and make those experiences even better the next time. 

Leadership

You also need to make sure that the leadership team of the business live and breathe this customer-centric approach. The leadership team need to drive behaviours, standards and processes that make e-Commerce easier to implement. They need to ask how to get more sales online. But, also empower and provide the resources needed to implement the solutions we’ve outlined in this guide. 

If you have other functions involved in e-Commerce like finance and supply chain, their objectives may be more focussed on operational efficiency. They will be looking at profitability rates for example. Or, reducing storage and delivery costs. 

The leadership team need to build clear processes on how decisions and made and what the priorities are. With the test and learn approach of e-Commerce, the leadership team needs to make people unafraid to try new things out. If something doesn’t work, it prevents wastage in the future. It makes it more likely you will find a winning answer the next time. 

So, the leadership team need to motivate and inspire people to look for solutions that improve the online shopper experience. And make sure that learning, not punishment is the main behaviour if something doesn’t work out. 

Make it OK to fail small on a regular basis, as long as the fail drives a learning. Because it often takes many small fails before you hit on a big win. 

Environment

Finally, you also need to think about the environment that surrounds your online customer experience. 

This can be both online and offline. 

So online, obviously your online store website set-up is important, but think about any other IT systems than also need to support that. How easy is it to create and develop new content for example? What systems and processes do you have to manage changes in product information or new product launches? 

In the offline world, do the key physical locations like your office, the warehouse and the delivery trucks all “fit” with a customer-centric approach? How can you bring the online shopper to life, so that the environment encourages your team to constantly be looking for ways to better the online customer experience? 

How to get more sales online – conclusion

We hope this guide has given you ideas and inspiration on how to get more sales online. If there was a guaranteed way to drive sales, everyone would be doing it. But by applying and learning key marketing and customer experience skills as we’ve outlined here, you can improve your chances of being a successful online seller enormously. 

E-Commerce as a channel is relatively easy to get into, but relatively hard to do well. That’s part of the fun and challenge. You need to weave together multiple skills and balance out the creativity needed to create products and experience that sell, with the more logical and practical processes and systems that make online selling run smoothly. 

We really believe that the most successful online sellers are successful because they create a culture that focusses on what people need. And, a culture that then delivers on those needs. Culture takes time to build, but it’s what makes the best e-Commerce brands stand out from the rest. 

It’s part of an overall customer-centric and digital way of doing business, that we’ve tested and learned and use as part of our own business on a day-to-day basis.  

Three-brains and e-Commerce

We have worked on many e-Commerce projects and have good experience across e-Commerce strategy, working with online retailers and building D2C stores. We know how to connect these expertise areas back into driving your brand marketing and growing your sales. 

If you want to know more about how we can support your e-Commerce to grow your business through our coaching and consulting services, click the button below to send us a message.

We can coach you to reach the top of your competitive game.

Latest e-Commerce blog posts