These days, everyone seems to be selling something. From digital products like courses, e-books and access to webinars, to physical products like clothes, cosmetics and electronic gadgets, as well as all types and manners of services. It seems like the big question for modern-day entrepreneurs is where are you selling your products/services? Do you have a website or are you still selling on platforms that you have no control over? Does having a website increase sales, or is it just overhyped?
Some months ago, some social media platforms were suddenly inactive for hours. During this time, users were unable to send messages on Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram, vendors could not reach their clients, and customers could not get through to their vendors. It was total chaos for many people, particularly business owners that only sold via these platforms. While this was happening, another set of entrepreneurs was largely unaffected as their customers continued to place orders on their websites, while they were still able to send emails to their subscriber communities. No dust was raised. All remained calm.
While we cannot dispute the fact that hundreds of sales are made on social media platforms, nothing beats having a website for your business as it is a platform that you can have total control over. In fact, there are several ways that having a website can significantly and sustainably improve your sales. If you are wondering how can a website increase sales? Here’s your answer.
- Building an email list
It would be difficult to regard your followers on social media as your customers. However, if you have a website where your e-commerce store is positioned, you can build an email list for yourself. With this list, you would have a database of your customers, and you can always retarget those people who have shown interest in your products – you would not have to keep spending money on ads over and over again. By building this database and community of potential customers, you can keep in touch with them, and you can always inform them of new products that they might like. It is always easier to get an old customer to buy from you as you have already established some level of trust with them.
You can get your customers and other visitors to your website to subscribe to your mailing list by using popups showing different coupons, discounts, free gifts, etc. You can include these popups on your product pages or your checkout page.
- Providing extra value to your customers
Nowadays, it is not sufficient to sell to your customers and send them on their way. If you have your e-commerce store set up on a website, you could also have a blog on the website where you provide helpful content. You can have pictures, videos and write-ups that show your customers how to use the products they have purchased, or how to maintain and fix small issues they might have with the products. For instance, if you sell basmati rice, you could share some basmati rice recipes that your customers can try out, or share content explaining the health benefits of eating basmati rice. You can also share content about other items that they could buy alongside basmati rice, and explain how they can be cooked together.
- You can create and implement a solid marketing strategy
With a mailing list, you can segment your audience and begin to send tailored messages, newsletters and announcements. There can be a different communication for people who have indicated an interest in your products but who have not bought from you yet. You can also have a separate one for those who have made purchases, where you can provide relevant information and offers based on their purchases. With such personalisation, your customers are likely to feel more connected and engage better with your brand.
- Send customers offers and use scarcity tactics
If you sell kitchenware for instance and you have just stocked 20 units of an item, you can use a single email to get them all sold out if you have an active list of 1000 subscribers. You can send a newsletter, for instance, detailing the benefits of that item. You can make an offer in the same mail (a gift, discount, aftersale service, etc), and add a timer to the message letting them know that the offer will be off the table in 24 hours. Chances are that you would get more orders than the products available, and that is just good for business. The best thing is, you would have spent nothing on ads! You would have made sales by just upselling to old customers and interested subscribers.
- You can upsell or cross-sell to your existing customers and subscribers
Did you know that there are stores that make up to 70 per cent of their revenue by offering upsells and cross-sells to their customers? Now, imagine just how much you are missing out on by not selling more to your existing customers. If a person has bought a serving dish, offer her a serving tray upon checkout. Insert popups with complementary or related items while customers shop or at checkout. Sweeten the deal by adding a discount or free delivery if they purchase both items.
- Engage customers using live chat or chatbots
There are a fair number of customers that like to engage with someone just before making a purchase. You can insert a live chat section or a chatbot that pops up questions like “can I help you look for something?”, “what do you want to buy today?” etc. This can cut down the time they spend searching for products on your website, and keeps them from getting discouraged and bouncing off the page.
- Get customers to drop reviews and video testimonials in exchange for discounts on subsequent purchases
Someone suggested that customers are more likely to leave a review when they have a bad experience than when they have a good one. This is mostly true. If they love a product, they just go ahead with using it without remembering to drop a review. However, if there is a problem with an item that they have purchased, they remember to come back with negative reviews in the hopes of getting the problem fixed. When you have sold a product, ask your customers for reviews and testimonials either via emails or popup boxes on your website. Ask them to review your delivery, your product, and your customer service. If you don’t ask, they may not send it and you could lose out on those customers that want to see reviews before making purchases.
How easy is it to set up an e-commerce store?
Very easy. This is 2022, not 2012. You do not need coding skills to set up an e-commerce store or a website of your own. There are platforms like Startweb that come with built-in templates that you can use, alongside drag-and-drop features that would help you populate your website or e-commerce store with products, link them to your social media campaigns, and much more. With Startweb you can also get easy access to plugins for SEO, live chats and other desired features. Startweb costs less than what you would pay in commissions for using other e-commerce platforms to sell your goods. Check out https://startweb.africa/ to get started.