Online shopping has revolutionized the way consumers research, compare and eventually purchase the goods they want. It has also allowed the reach of small businesses to grow. Online shopping has increased 41% since 2014, a sure sign that internet-based consumerism isn’t going anywhere.1 You probably take advantage of many conveniences of online shopping as a consumer, but how are you approaching it as a business owner?
If you are not already investing time in your online shopping strategy, it’s definitely the correct moment to start. 31% of all consumers shop online at least once a week.1 It’s time you take a look at your business from a new digital perspective and leverage the online space to help your business grow. Below are some tips and strategies to help take advantage of online shopping.
Follow Your Customers’ Footsteps
If a customer walks into your store and considers several items before making a final purchase, the only thing you know about that transaction is the final choice. Looking through your inventory can tell you which products customers prefer most. What it won’t tell you is what they considered buying instead.
By tracking your customer’s experience on your website, you’ll be privy to that information and much more. Use website tracking tools to see things like which pages your customers visit the most and which pages make them drop off the most. Use information like this to compare your products and see which items are preferred over others. Use your findings to modify existing products or test new ones that your customers may like more.
Keep an Eye on the Competition
Checking in on your competitors used to take a lot of time, effort and a bit of stealth. Now, you can easily check up on other businesses in your market and even discover new ones. Conduct competitive audits online. Note your competitors’ pricing, products, promotions and other unique factors. Test out their online shopping experience by going through the process yourself (that is, as far as you can go without purchasing!). Reflect on what they do better, what they do worse and how you can use that information to improve your own site.
When you are looking at competitors, it’s also important to look at how your brand fits in amongst them. Do you stand out or just blend in? Think about what your niche in the market is and how your passion in that area can help with the growth of your business.
Capitalize on Convenience
There is a reason that customers prefer to shop online: better pricing, comparison tools, variety, and above all, convenience. The most inconvenient part of online shopping is the shipping aspect. Not only do you have to wait, you have to pay to wait — it’s the part of the online shopping process that could truly make or break the sale, depending on how you handle it. Nine out of 10 consumers say that the top free incentive for shopping online is free shipping.1 Give the people what they want, but do so in a strategic way. For example, offer free shipping when a certain threshold is hit to encourage add-ons and small last minute purchases that add up. You could also offer free shipping to customers in your frequent buyer program as a perk to loyal customers and to encourage others to obtain that level of exclusivity.
Increase Your Visibility… For Free!
One of the largest benefits of advertising in the digital space is the low (or non-existent) cost. There are several methods to use, but most strategies should be focused on using your social channels to drive traffic to your site and generate some buzz.
Take advantage of online conversation and influencers to make the most of the online shopping space. Connect with like-minded business owners or complementary businesses and forge a reciprocal promotional relationship to expand your reach. For example, if you design event invitations, you could connect with your favorite local florist and give them free cards to use in their arrangements. Have them take photos of some of the arrangements to share on your social channels and vice versa. Offer exclusive promotions to the followers of that florist.
1Gesenhues, A. (June 9, 2016). Retail study: 9 out of 10 consumers say free shipping No. 1 incentive to shop online more. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from http://marketingland.com/e-commerce-report-9-10-consumers-say-free-shipping-no-1-incentive-shop-online-180280