Does your sales strategy have a well-articulated e-commerce component?
Perhaps you don’t have a choice. If your company doesn’t have a physical office or product from which to hawk goods or services, e-commerce is necessarily the be-all-end-all of its sales strategy. This is a much more common arrangement than many realize.
For now, most consumer-facing businesses maintain some sort of physical presence out in the world, whether that means a dedicated storefront, a mobile stall, a truck or van, or some combination of these and other vectors.
But these physical points-of-sale increasingly aren’t enough to keep discerning customers happy. Even the most staid businesses now recognize the importance of a hybrid approach: a sales strategy that blends the humanity and tangibility of in-person transactions with the scale and reach of e-commerce.
If you’ve never given thought to e-commerce, now’s the time to start. Use these six tips to establish and enhance your digital sales presence.
1. Know Your Products’ Value
HubSpot’s Alyssa Rimmer makes a persuasive case for companies that avoid discounting. With the crucial caveats that discounts are sometimes necessary — and, in some cases (see below), that discounts can form the basis of an effective business strategy — it’s not always wise to cut prices without compensatory reductions to your value-add. Wanton discounting trains your customers to expect lower prices, which can damage your margins and cripple your long-term growth strategy following a sales “sugar high.”
2. Create Scarcity
On the other hand, discounts can be just what the salesforce ordered when paired with other savvy sales tactics. For instance, Canadian flash sale website Beyond the Rack builds its model around time-limited sales that cut prices up to 80% on name-brand and rising-star fashion merchandise, home goods, and the like. The key here is the perception of scarcity: Those deals are only around for so long, only available to members, and end when (limited) quantities run out.
3. Invest in User-Friendly Design
Design matters, so make sure your e-commerce portal is attractive and easy to use. Most major e-commerce platforms have a slew of in-house templates and themes, often at no additional charge. Check out Shopify’s extensive theme library for ideas, or do some Googling on your own. And don’t be scared of the upfront cost of investing in customization: Hiring a UX expert to spiff up your portal could be the best investment you make in your fledgling e-commerce operation.
4. Make It Easy to Check Out (And Buy More)
If Amazon can make a killing off one-click ordering, why can’t you? Use giveaways and targeted discounts to entice users to create dedicated accounts, or piggyback off their social media profiles (Facebook is popular) for single sign-on convenience. Display your “order” button prominently throughout your interface — Amazon’s appears at the top, bottom, and side of listing pages.
5. Follow Up With First-Time and Loyal Customers Alike
Use a legitimate CRM system to track and follow up with customers who pass through your e-commerce portal. Remember, only a small fraction of first-time visitors actually buy something. You’ll need to guide them through the decision process with follow-up emails and push notifications, increasing the likelihood that they’ll buy from you instead of a competitor.
6. Respond to Customer Feedback
Without your customers, where would you be?
You know the answer: nowhere. So, when they suggest e-commerce improvements in good faith, take them to heart. Otherwise, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
Roll With the Changes
If this list doesn’t already make it clear, the e-commerce world is changing rapidly. Beyond the tips and strategies we’ve outlined here, your company needs to be ready for whatever new trends and disruptions might be coming down the pike. Its bottom line — and, perhaps, its very existence — depends on it.