MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: Selling more online

The virtual high street is more crowded than ever before. Julia Priddle explains how to grab a slice of the action.

by Julia Priddle
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
We found out this week that spending on online advertising has overtaken telly for the first time – so no wonder e-commerce is booming and businesses of all walks – whether they are retailers, manufacturers or services providers – are looking for ways to grab a slice of the action.

But selling online can be very chaotic – so we asked Julia Priddle, head of key account management at ChannelAdvisor, for her advice on how businesses can improve their online sales.

1. Identify buying patterns
There are times of the year (the obvious one being Christmas) that see a spike in online sales. So make sure you’re promoting the right products at the right times – like that new range of bikinis in July, or those winter tyres in December.

2. User experience is key
The more user-friendly and ‘clean’ your website, the more customers will come back to you for future purchases. Add features such as a site search box with auto-suggest or a checkout limited to just a few pages: they’ll make the difference in whether you convert shoppers or lose them to your rivals.

3. Special offers can drive traffic
The use of special offers is nothing new, but by using special offers exclusively online you can drive bargain hunters towards your website. Everyone loves a bargain.

4. Get social
Granted, we hear this a lot, but social networks are a great opportunity to increase online sales and engage with your customers. Admittedly, it can be daunting to the uninitiated – but easy first steps include adding the Facebook ‘Like’ button to your website and experimenting with special offers for Facebook fans and Twitter followers. After all, it’s good to talk.

5. Make your website mobile-friendly
Get up to speed with the mobile generation. In a recent survey we found that purchases made via mobile phones have tripled in the past year, so if your site isn’t easy to browse on the move, you’re missing out.

6. Customer insight
There are tools, like Google Analytics, available to analyse each visitor’s viewing habits on your website, allowing you to tailor specific products and special offers to the individual when they visit again. The more you know about your customers, the easier it’ll be to keep them happy.

7. Get involved with Google
Google’s Product Ads shows a picture of your product along with price and description, and massively influence the number of people clicking through to your site. It’s also vital to get your AdWords right; every single product you sell should have at least two keywords attached in a bid to lure in those casual Googlers.

8. Branch out with Bing
Unlike Shopping.com, Nextag or other search comparison engines, listing products on Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) is completely free, offering exposure to 100 million customers. Don’t miss out – you can’t argue with a freebie.

9. Watch your ratings
Seller performance on eBay, Amazon and Buy.com is an important tool for customers to view feedback and decide whether they wish to buy from you. Keep tabs on yours daily and identify any areas which are affecting your rating so you don’t scare off potential customers.

10. Keep an eye on category changes
Marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Buy.com regularly make changes to their categories. Keep an eye out for these changes as it could save you a lot of time when listing products.

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