7 tried-and-tested ways to increase eCommerce sales.

Updated: Jan 11

eCommerce retail represents a massive opportunity today for retailers of all scales and sizes. Every e-tailer aims to make more of a splash, grab more eyeballs, score more traffic, and of course, garner steady sales. This is easier said than done, as hundreds of businesses target the same demographic through ads and other messaging, often across platforms, media, and timezones.

How, then, can a small retail business gear up for success? We’re here to help! These 7 tried-and-tested approaches will help you promote your brand in a sustainable way, and gain and retain paying customers.

1. Budgeting for generating paid traffic

So you go live with your eCommerce venture. What next? You have to blow your own trumpet from every platform to let the world know about it! But simply putting out the word is not enough.

You have to allocate a certain portion of your budget to generating traffic through paid advertisements. You may worry about the cost of paid traffic, and wonder if it will generate sufficient returns, and you are not alone in that. You can experiment by spending small amounts at first to zero in on the kind of ads that drive visitors to your website.

Keep a close eye on the metrics, and then focus your efforts and resources on campaigns designed based on the most successful test results. This is one way to ensure the most bang for your buck.

Pro tip: When allocating a budget for paid advertising, remember to segment your potential audience base and reach out to every segment with the right messaging. This ensures that only the most relevant people click on the ad and come to your website.

2. Knowing your customer well

Knowing who your paying customers are, and what they are thinking, will further help you refine your targeted ads and outreach campaigns. Use the data collected to build one or more “buyer personas” you can design ads for. Facebook ads, for example, allow you to pick a “custom audience” and will show the ads to newer audiences that resemble the segment you are already targeting.

In addition, you can also redesign the ads for people who have already visited your website but have not purchased anything. This strategy, known as “retargeting,” can help increase brand awareness, push offers and discounts that were not shown the first time, build more recall and bring visitors back to make a purchase.

Pro tip: Never underestimate the power of retargeting ads! People who see an ad for a product they were previously interested in are twice as likely to convert after the ad. Apart from this, ensure that your cart abandonment emails are in the mix too, to go after those who have specifically dropped off just before paying up.

3. Leveraging email marketing

Don’t be too quick to dismiss email as old-school! Emails can be designed to be full of visual and verbal appeal and connect across a wide spectrum of customers. It can be targeted at newer customers as well as those who have shopped with you for a while. For new acquisitions, emails can help guide them through the onboarding or activation process.

Email marketing can be customized to include promotions, timelines, discounts, and so on. Email is a necessary engagement tool to let your customers know you appreciate their business, to follow up, and to maintain a relationship.

In the context of D2C retail, email marketing is most ideal for existing customers, but a great email can become the basis of all your retaining efforts. People forward the emails they really love to their friends and this might just open up a free source of new leads for you.

Pro tip: You don’t need too many resources to create amazing emails! These days you can take your pick of DIY email templates and tools that offer editable layouts and impressive color palettes to customize your messaging and keep it consistent across the brand. There are companies that offer A/B testing services, which are helpful in determining which type of content resonates more with your target audience. Tracking email opening and click-through rates, in addition, can help you refine your campaign strategies.

4. Tweaking web design and mobile shopping app parameters

A beautifully designed eCommerce web store is great to have, but is it easy to navigate?

Does the customer find what they are looking for in a few clicks or taps? Does your shopping app keep them engaged? While several customers still prefer desktop search-and-shop, the vast majority are converting to mobile shopping.

Therefore it makes absolutely no sense to have a great website but a poor mobile counterpart. You risk losing an entire shopping segment if your website is not user-friendly enough. Your website must be optimized for mobile from a technical as well as a visual perspective.

The most critical aspect is the checkout process: It must be easy for your mobile shoppers to make a purchase. Including various contemporary and secure modes of payment is a must: credit cards, debit cards, wallets, net banking, and/or cash on delivery. Offering customers a chance to select their preferred payment method goes a long way in establishing trust and securing return business.

Pro tip: When designing your eCommerce site, choose a platform that automatically optimizes both for web usage and mobile usage. Once this is done, cut the clutter out of the mobile site by hiding the elements that don’t add too much value when viewed on a mobile screen. Do ensure that your product pictures occupy a large chunk of screen space on the mobile version.

5. Minimizing shopping cart abandonment

Any off-putting experience with your website during the checkout process can lead to a customer simply drifting off to more entertaining activities without making a purchase, or leaving to seek the same product elsewhere. The statistics regarding cart abandonment are quite sobering: in the best case, eCommerce sites experience a shopping cart abandonment rate of 75%!

Keep the checkout process as simple or streamlined as possible by eliminating every unnecessary step. In addition to offering customers their choice of modes of payment, remove all unnecessary fields in your forms. Do not time out your customers. If they have to start from the beginning, they may as well want to give up.

Minimize friction by making it effortless for the customer to flit between the shopping cart and the product pages. Display clear “continue shopping?” or “checkout” choices and situate such call-to-action buttons prominently. Similarly, offer an option to “save cart” and return to it later.

Pro tip: Too many people dropping off at the payment gateway? Consider adding more payment methods. And if that doesn’t work either, people probably need an element of trust for their purchase. Reinforce here that their payment details are secure, and that you are SSL certified.

6. Learning the art of the upsell

Upselling is basically getting the customer to buy and try out a higher-end product than the one they have been accustomed to. This may not directly boost the number of sales, but it will boost the average cart value, and bring in more revenue from the same customer.

To upsell, depending on your product or service, you must display “bigger and better” options out there that the customer can avail of. Of course, there must be some justification provided on why it is worthwhile for the customer to drop more cash on the more expensive version. Include features, customer reviews, ratings, feature comparisons, “customers also bought” thumbnails, and, last but not the least, a discount offer to really sweeten the deal.

Pro tip: Upselling is also possible with product bundling, which invariably increases the average cart value. People who buy toys will need batteries, and those that buy a few household goods will probably need other household items as well. Indeed, it is manually impossible to map and bundle everything, and this is where automation is your friend.

7. Using website engagement tools judiciously

A website is the virtual storefront, and engagement tools are your salespeople. From well-timed pop-ups to chatbots providing focused information, the right nudge at the right time can lead to more conversions from your eCommerce store.

Strategically designed, well-placed, and well-timed popups can entice rather than annoy. eCommerce sites can judiciously use popups showing a hero image and a pithy message along with an incentivized call to action.

For instance, a clothing website can place a popup on a sold-out page, giving information on how often that specific sold-out item is restocked, requesting the customer’s email ID, and adding a discount or free shipping. Popups can be a savvy long-term engagement tool as well. By collating interested customers’ email IDs, they can continue to loop them in for special offers, newsletters, or updates on their favorite products.

Apart from pop-ups and chatbots, one can also opt for limited time deal flashes, product review flashes, images of the product being used in the real world, and so on.

Pro tip: During a sale period, popups can also be used to show a ticking clock indicating how much time is left for a specific sale to come to an end, capitalizing on customer FOMO (fear of missing out.) These gentle nudges increase the likelihood of conversion, particularly during a period of frenzy when everyone is offering a sale.

Every eCommerce store is a labor of love and involves constant optimization, much as one would with a physical retail store. However, as one of the few businesses that are inherently consumer-facing in nature, eCommerce also has an opportunity for steady, continuous growth, as long as you keep one ear trained to the ground for customer sentiment at all times.