04 December 2020, 08:33 AM
  • Piperis Filippaios, MD at web development and digital marketing agency digitalbeans, sets out his tips for how small businesses can find success with e-commerce
5 ways to improve your online shop to make more sales

E-commerce has boomed in 2020. This year, many of us have turned to digital methods for work, shopping and socialising in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

Many high-street businesses saw sales impacted as doors had to close, yet for those already using e-commerce and driving their online brand, online traffic rose and sales increased.

For small and independent businesses, e-commerce can be a great leveller, helping them to compete against larger brands. Consumers are keen to shop local and there are plenty of opportunities to capitalise on the sentiment online.

While shoppers expect a different in-store experience when visiting smaller retailers, they are less tolerant of glitches online. The most common pitfalls we see when working with smaller retailers is lack of investment in the right platform or functionality, so I’ve highlighted five areas to address to boost e-commerce success.

1. Drive traffic to your store
If you typically run print or radio advertising campaigns, explore digital for far greater targeting options. Well-written, concise copy that resonates and drives a strong call to action performs better. A high-definition image or video further encourages users to click.

To maximise campaign performance, set the landing page correctly. If you are promoting a certain product or article then the campaign should drive traffic to this URL rather than a home page, optimising the customer experience. 

By tracking the results, you can see how effective your marketing is and monitor exactly where your money is going, who your ads are reaching and the actions these people take. This data can be used to inform future marketing efforts. It helps you to target the types of customers who are most likely to buy from you, their age, location, interests and which platform they saw your ad on.

2. Improve site usability 
Shoppers are increasingly buying via their smartphones, with almost a fifth of Black Friday shoppers doing their shopping on a mobile. Your site must be responsive and optimised for shopping on mobile devices, otherwise you risk losing customers. Run a mobile friendly test to check your site is usable and provides a good experience.

Page speed directly impacts consumer purchasing behavior – 70% of consumers say if a page is slow to load, they won’t continue their purchase (Unbounce, 2019). Page Speed Insights tests your website speed and provides recommendations for improvements. Compressing your image file sizes instantly reduces loading times.

3. Boost basket size
The more each consumer orders, the more profitable your e-commerce site becomes. Optimising page layout and adding website functions that facilitate upselling increases spend.

Plug-ins for your site such as custom related feeds allow you to recommend products to customers based on the items in their basket and the pages they have engaged with on your site. A recommended products box can follow users around the site so promoted items are visible at key points in their shopping experience i.e. on the home page, on product pages, and at checkout.

Improving your product options and navigation paths also aids shopping. Cut down time spent searching your site by enabling customers to click on products and switch to versions in different sizes, colours or flavours on the same page. This improves customer experience and makes it easier to sell larger versions or multiples, increasing basket size.

4. Checkout optimisation
Basket abandonment is hugely frustrating for retailers, you may have successfully got buyers to visit your site, consider buying but they fail to complete the transaction. Barclaycard found that 41% of shoppers have abandoned a transaction during checkout in the past year, adding up to £18bn in lost sales. 62% of checkout abandonment were all factors to do with the purchasing experience itself.

Making the purchase process simple and quick increases conversion rates and sales. Use website plug-ins to streamline transactions. Tools such as One Page Checkout creates a user-friendly experience and using postcode lookup features helps customers input their billing and delivery information quicker.

5. Remarketing
Don’t you hate it when someone visits your site, but leaves before making a purchase? This happens with over 90% of the traffic that comes to your site.

Remarketing enables you to identify the lost traffic and re-engage with these customers to return and make a purchase.

You can remarket across all major platforms, including Google Search, Google Display Network, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, capturing your next customer at the most convenient opportunity.

Dynamic remarketing allows you to upload your product feed. These ads then show the exact or “you may also like” products to your customers. This is a great way to make your remarketing ads more relevant and influence a stronger call to action. Ensure these ads link directly through to the product page and, if possible, display pricing and discount information.