The two major online retail events in 2014 – Black Friday / Cyber Monday and the Shopping Season – are behind us, it’s all about 2015 now. Just like many other online retailers, you’ve probably already been thinking of ways to improve and grow your eCommerce business in the year ahead. What follows are fifteen tangible ways to do just that.
1. Build Strong Relations
One of the greatest downsides of eCommerce is a lack of an in-person connection with customers. People just visit your site and if they like what they see, they pull out their wallets, and once you ship the goods to them, it’s over. The way to grow your business in today's eCommerce sphere is by doing the opposite — developing personal relationships with customers, be it through a strong social dialog, personalized discounts, or appearances at trade shows and conventions.
2. Target Niche Markets
One of the advantages of getting to know your customers is that you learn quite a lot about their needs and wants. And thus, you are able to bring in more relevant products. In 2015, consider focusing more on making sure that every new product you start carrying is super relevant to your customers, and focus less on the number of products you carry.
3. Optimize Your Site
Your site has to be the best it can be. If it's slow to load or too difficult to navigate, consumers will not wait - they'll click off if they aren't viewing usable content in a split second. Make sure your content is capturing users' attention by giving an accurate and detailed description of what they are purchasing; provide multiple images for one product, show different features and angles that will benefit your shoppers!
4. Get Rid of Slow Moving Products
Many online stores struggle with stock that just gathers dust on their shelves. This locks up not only physical space but also the funds invested in it. These might be seasonal products, or older models of recently updated products or any other product that hasn’t sold in the last few weeks or months. Consider closing out those products through special promotions, sales and other marketing vehicles.
5. Apply Psychological Pricing
Believe it or not, you have a lot of power over your customers’ purchasing decisions. You set the rules. By implementing psychological pricing on your store, you are strategically pricing your products and promotions to incite customers to spend more.
6. Go Multi-channel
Offer products on as many channels as possible. This is of course easier said than done, but trying with one new channel is a good start. Apart from eBay and Amazon it's good to explore other opportunities such as having your own webstore and building your brand on it. You can learn what customers want from your sales on eBay and Amazon, and offer better prices or offers on your website. Also consider the channels you choose in relation to your customer base and product line - wholesale soccer cleats might do better on Jet.com, while homemade candles might do better on Etsy.
7. Big Data and Analytics
The year of 2014 is actually an effective tool available for you to use – you can look back on how you did, your best performing SKUs, your fastest pickers, inventory that languished the longest. Don't have any way to get these numbers for 2014? Then make this year count! SkuVault's got reports for reordering, performance reviews, brand / class performance, sales, and more.
8. Tap into Mobile Customers
More than 60% of U.S. consumers' time spent online with retailers takes place on a mobile device, according to a study done by comScore. Therefore, as the number of smart phones and tablets are growing, increasingly merchants need to implement mobile-friendly responsive online shops, to turn those mobile viewers into customers.
9. Up Sell and Cross Sell
When a customer adds a product to their cart, consider adding a suggestion of other products. You could even consider offering product bundles at a discount. Offering free postage on multiple items is also a great way to get people to buy more.
10. Email Marketing Still Works
Not everyone in your target market is going to visit your website, so you need to go to them. The best way to do this is to build up a quality contact list and send out emails that entice them to visit your site. Online sales really get a boost when the emails include timely offers, like a special sale or sneak peak at a new product.
11. Invest (a little) in Social Media
There's a huge variety of social networks that give you access to your potential customers in both straightforward and obtuse ways, from anywhere in the world. Although changes to the algorithms of popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made it harder for companies to reach their followers without paying exorbitant fees, the fact remains that social media profiles provide a level of transparency, communication, and legitimacy that is hard to replicate through other means.
12. Enter the Blogosphere
Perfect follow up for under the radar SEO efforts. Write blog post articles that will interest your target market and attract them to shop on your site. Develop an editorial calendar each month that will establish your brand as a leader in the industry. Make sure to always keep your audience in mind.
13. Consider Offering a Subscription Service
Looking for a way to increase recurring revenue? eCommerce subscription services are the biggest craze right now and it’s not too late for you to jump on board. Whether you want to start offering monthly gift boxes or automated reorders, it’s a great way to grow your business and keep profits steady.
14. Don’t Make Assumptions
Aim to improve but never assume. It’s paramount that you scrutinize all areas of your business, even while searching for growth opportunities. Never get distracted looking for the next ‘big thing’ when other areas of your business have room for improvement.
15. Choose SkuVault
The biggest tool to enable success is – and always has been – software. You need to have the right automation system that can grow with you. SkuVault is an inventory & warehouse management system, with features like product kitting, alternates, P.O.'s & receiving, real-time quantity updates, quality control, efficient pick lists, cycle counting, advanced reporting, and more, with integrations with some of the biggest players in the business, like Amazon, eBay, ChannelAdvisor, Shopify, Magento, Bigcommerce, QuickBooks, ShipStation, ShipWorks, and more.
2015 is going to be a challenging year for many eCommerce stores, so turn one purchase into repeat, loyal customers by providing exceptional customer service. Bottom line: make customers feel special and important, and take 2015 by storm.