What pushes ecommerce sales?

Presumably all online retailers wish to increase sales. I understand we do at overstockArt.com.

I came into the office on a recent Monday and, as usual, I checked our earnings from the weekend. This is usually among the first things I do on a Monday morning, as it generally defines how we begin our week. On this particular morning, sales were quite strong. In actuality, it was the most powerful weekend we had in three or four weeks.

So I started searching for the cause. Why was this weekend better than others? I looked in the conversions, traffic resources, and all of the usual suspects. But could not identify one specific reason for the growth in sales.

That experience led me to this report. While figuring out the cause of increased sales in a particular, day, hour, or just a weekend might not always be possible — in many cases it is simply luck — figuring out what drives sales longterm is one of the keys to your success.

I came up with four reasons which are accountable for our increases in earnings. Although this is true for the business, it’s likely true for many online retailers.

  • Rental accessibility
  • Site traffic
  • Customer experience
  • Competition

I omitted a number of the usual suspects, such as near ratio, dollar each visitor, and other matrices which are lagging indicators but not necessarily activities which you can take to increase sales. It’s vital for my business to focus on root causes.

Admittedly some of them are broad. But they may be handled by any company, large or small.

Inventory availability

In “Secret sauce for an ecommerce supply chain,” my post in May, I concentrated on stock availability. I will repeat only the key points here. The secret to enhancing stock availability is to reduce lead times, improve order frequency, and decrease order size. This will also lead to improved cash flow, greater return on investment, and more gains.

Website traffic

At first glance this seems obvious, and to a extent, it is. If we increase visitors, we’ll increase earnings — all else being equal. The key, as always, is in the implementation. Since the majority of us don’t have unlimited funds, we can not just buy more visitors. It must convert at a rate which allows for a fantastic return on investment. The principal traffic sources for many retailers are as follows.

  • Immediate traffic
  • Search engine optimization
  • Cost-per-click advertisements on search engines
  • Email advertising
  • Retargeting
  • Social networking

These resources are critical for many retailers, as is maintaining a fantastic diversity of sources. I will elaborate on cost per click, retargeting, and email advertising here. They are mostly on your hands and may be summed up fairly quickly. Two of these — CPC and retargeting — may cost money if not managed correctly.

  • Cost-per-click ads. Carefully analyze the way you spend money on CPC, as some key words just cost you money and some make you money. Besides, you should develop a clear plan. By way of instance, if you’ve got high repeat sales, you can probably afford to drop money on the initial sale and earn money and following ones from the same customer. Conversely, if your objective is to maximize profit, or if your company does not drive repeat sales, you need to earn a profit on the initial sale.
  • Email advertising. We’ve developed a brief list of actions that greatly determine success of email marketing. Email marketing isn’t sexy anymore. But remains the best converter and profit generator for us and a number of other retailers. Our four best activities to increase email conversions are as follows.

First, use timely supplies. Customers act (or do not behave ) fast on email offers. So keeping your offers out there for more than 72 hours will merely decrease the response rate. We discovered that 24-to-48 hours works best.

Secondly, send more than once. It’s great to send an offer and send it again, informing customers last opportunity. Many clients like to see a replica of an offer.

Third, have a great reason for the reduction. We found that the exact offers on specific times of the year convert better. It might be the specific offer as other days, but in case you’ve got a great reason for the reduction, customers believe it’s real. It can also be that you’re supplying them another reason to purchase. The trick is to look for special occasions on a regular basis.

Fourth, change your offer or the way you communicate your offer frequently. If customers see a 20 percent reduction from you each week, they then realize it is the only deal and it is not really a bargain anymore. It doesn’t inspire them. So change your prices and call them in various titles as client respond differently to offers.

  • Retargeting can be a highly effective way bring qualified visitors to your website. It’s a fascinating channel, as it does two things to your own brand. First, it produces a mini-conversion for lots of your customers, as they see that your banner advertisements after leaving the website. Additionally, it helps with new building once the visitors see those advertisements.

The conversion rate on the traffic is usually very great for us, with these caveats.

We use a cost-per-click version not cost per impression. It’s just too tough to measure the returns with CPM.

We use just”click-through” earnings to assess the program. Lots of the re-targeting vendors will tell you your click-through revenue is reduced but the”view-through” makes it worthwhile. Unfortunately view-through isn’t truly trackable. Plus you do not know what led to the conversion. Click-through earnings are clear and quantifiable.

Finally, lower bids can backfire. If you bid a little higher, you’ll get seen more frequently, which permits the branding process to work. It is going to then support all your other advertising models. You still have to track ROI. However, you might permit a lower ROI for retargeting, to compensate for the branding impact it has on other components of your promotion.

  • Social media. We’ve never had enormous success with social media But we keep a solid presence with the notion that it’s a fantastic way to communicate with fans and buyers. We incorporate our retargeting attempts to our client’s Facebook news feed and make Facebook posts echoing our email promotions, to be consistent across channels.

Customer experience

Customer experience is at the heart of increasing sales. If your brand provides a compelling experience, you will greatly increase repeat purchases and positive word of mouth.

What’s customer experience? Is there a great way to quantify it? The customer experience is much more than great customer service. It is about the conglomeration of touch factors or interactions you have with your clients — like on your site, your emails, the boxes which arrive at the clients’ home, and the rest of the elements.

It’s crucial for any retailer to have resources invested in creating the consumer experience positive and memorable. Below are a few of the things that have worked for us.

  • The “Wall Art Happiness” meeting. This is a very simple tool where after a month we meet to celebrate the client experience. This is a chance for us to recognize employees who’ve done something special for a client. This strengthens our commitment to the client and our culture.
  • Empowering employees. We want frontline workers to resolve problems to the best of their abilities. This goes to trust and culture. You need to set guidelines but they shouldn’t be very complicated. Imagine how a shopper believes when the person on the other line is unable or unwilling to assist? Contrast that with a client talking to a man who would like to assist, knows how to assist, and has the resources to help — on the telephone as the dialogue is happening.
  • Preemptive distribution. Today’s client is on the go. She’s busy, distracted, and has many demands on her focus. You need to offer more than only a desktop buying option. Your client needs to do more than simply have shopping interactions with your own brand. This is where a mobile site and a mobile app become involved. Consider your customer might have the desire and might feel it’s the ideal time to interact when she is in her van picking her daughter from soccer practice.
  • Net promoter. This is one question survey that reveals the participation of clients with our brand. It’s a excellent tool to measure customer participation. We use it occasionally to see if we’re getting better.

Competition

Most all ecommerce businesses have competitors. It’s very simple for clients to go from 1 competitor to another. This does not mean you ought to drop your prices below your competition, though in certain industries price is an essential element. However, it means that you ought to know what your competitor is performing.

Start looking for ways to learn from opponents — both direct and indirect — and you need to think about the vantage point of a client when he believes a buy from you versus your competitor. At overstockArt.com, we build a simple matrix of competitor intelligence and update it frequently. It does not take a good deal of work. We examine it about once a month to see what our competition is doing.

In this guide, I tackled a problem — what pushes ecommerce sales? — that requires more than 1 article. I could have elaborated more on a number of these topics. Please share your perspectives, in the comments below.