How to Sell Online: A Brief Guide to eCommerce Marketing
Want to increase sales, but not sure how to sell online? The Moment team details how to run an online retail store.
While overall retail sales dipped by 1.9% in 2020, online sales grew by a massive 46%. The surge accelerated the transition towards an online shopping norm which was well underway before the pandemic hit. (Internet Retailing)
There’s still a place for bricks and mortar retail. Many customers are still interested in buying their goods in person, as the recent surge in non-essential high street shopping suggests. (Just Style)
But to remain viable, most retail businesses must now provide their customers with the option to shop online. Regardless of where customers decide to buy, roughly 63% of retail purchases begin online, whether that’s for product research, price comparison or final sale. (Oberlo)
As digital payments company Square notes, “It’s the brands who have struck the perfect balance [between physical and online retail] who are enjoying a retail boom thanks to their omnichannel experiences.” (Square)
Whether you plan to open an online-only shop or want to complement your existing retail offering, here are some things to consider when operating an e-commerce store.
How to sell online tip #1: Choose the right platform
Fortunately, you’re unlikely to need to build your own online store functionality. There are loads of existing e-commerce platforms which you can integrate with your website to sell products.
Most e-commerce platforms provide you with all of the essentials like hosting, security, mobile functionality and product updates. (Big Commerce)
There are loads of e-commerce platforms to choose from. Shopify, Wix and WooCommerce are amongst the most popular, but there are dozens more to explore, including Visual Soft.
Your choice of platform should depend on your desired outcome. Platforms can determine everything from growth to running costs, customer engagement and achieving strategic objectives, so you must be comfortable with your decision. (Coredna)
Shopify is arguably the most effective platform. It’s gained a reputation as “the most flexible, feature-rich and the most complete eCommerce platform.” (Ecommerce Platforms)
At Moment, we recommend Shopify for several reasons. It’s versatile, easy to customise, and simple for our clients to navigate. That comes in handy for those who’d like to frequently update their store without needing to contact a developer. Plus, its low-cost subscription model makes it accessible for most businesses.
As Shopify Partners, we can help businesses to set up and operate high-performing e-commerce stores.
How to sell online tip #2: Usability
It's important that visitors to your eCommerce store find it easy to use. If the website is hard to navigate or isn't intuitive, prospective customers might give up, impacting your sales.
The general principles of website usability like fast page load, great visual design and user-friendly copy all apply to eCommerce sites, too. In addition, there are many adjustments you can make to ensure an enjoyable experience for users.
It's a good idea to start with your target audience. Are they looking for affordable products? Premium quality? Reliable reviews? This should impact the way you present your offering.
As the team behind website optimisation software, Yoast, explains: "If one of the pillars of your mission is to provide the best price possible, the sale banner should probably be the most prominent item on your homepage. But, if you are selling high-quality products that people are willing to pay a bit more for, sentiment and emotion should be your focus."
Considering what cues your audience will look out for will help you order your website's structure and inform your content.
The way we shop online isn't linear. Did you know that roughly 65% of us start our shopping on a smartphone, before making a final purchase with a desktop device? (Contevo)
That's why it's so important to make sure eCommerce sites are optimised for both mobiles and desktops. If either one feels clunky or tricky to use, there's a risk of losing customers.
Navigating your online store can be made infinitely easier with the help of a well-organised internal search function.
Making sure to optimise your products for internal search can help customers to find and subsequently buy them.
If your website's existing internal search capabilities are weak, this is a high-priority area to focus on.
Prominent calls to action
You'll notice that many eCommerce websites are teeming with bright and attention-grabbing call to action (CTA) buttons. They act as a breadcrumb trail that encourages a natural journey from one page to the next, with the ultimate goal of achieving a sale.
To work effectively, CTA buttons should be the right size, shape, and colour. (iZooto)
Try including a value proposition into button text. Phrases like "Claim your reward”,”Shop the offer" and "Discover the new collection" might be more enticing than "Buy now” or "Visit the shop.”
If you're not sure of your CTA buttons' efficacy, try A/B testing to gauge what works and what you should change. (Optimizely)
Keep it simple
Your eCommerce store should be functional and easy to navigate: “Complexity hurts conversions. Excess clicks and menus or unrelenting categorisation are annoying to shoppers” (Crazy Egg).
While it's easy to want to splash every product you offer on your homepage or provide detailed menu options, it's better to exercise restraint. If your pages are ordered logically, then it shouldn't be too much of a struggle for a customer to navigate.
Extend this principle of simplicity to the checkout process, too. If you're making it hard for customers to finalise their purchase, they might drop off at the last moment, losing you a sale.
How to sell online tip #3: Use an integrated approach
An effective eCommerce strategy thinks beyond the website itself. It's helpful to consider the customer lifecycle, the process of reaching an audience, converting them into customers and nurturing your relationship to generate repeat custom, before turning them into advocates for your brand. (Grow Code)
You can use social media to generate reach while analysing your website data will help to reveal what customers are buying, and at what price.
Next, nurture your relationships with customers by maintaining relevance. Get in front of them with a combination of targeted online advertising and automated emails, including re-engagement prompts and exclusive offers to encourage repeat sales. (Neil Patel)
How to sell online tip #4: Consider SEO
Optimising your eCommerce website for search is an arduous but worthwhile endeavour.
While ads and social media can help to generate brand awareness, an advanced search engine optimisation campaign can ensure your products are viewed by those actively looking for them.
There are so many SEO tips for eCommerce sites that the topic deserves its own blog post. The main areas to consider include keyword research, site architecture, on-page SEO, Technical SEO, Local SEO, content marketing and link building. (Big Commerce)
SEO is a long-term strategy. It won't bring you immediate results, but in the long run, you'll see greater returns than with advertising alone.
eCommerce marketing: Moment case studies
Moment has worked with several brands to help them optimise their eCommerce site's performance.
Take a look at some of our favourite examples.
A luxury jeweller based in Aberdeen.
eCommerce platform: Visual Soft
A lifestyle, country and equestrian clothing and footwear brand.
eCommerce platform: Shopify
A specialist butcher and game dealer based in Ellon.
eCommerce platform: Shopify
While we can develop eCommerce sites from scratch, we can also help companies to get the most out of their existing websites, using integrated marketing software like Google Merchant Centre and HubSpot.
Want to know more about the work we do for our clients, and how we can support your brand's eCommerce site? Arrange a call with the Moment team.