7 Ways to Increase Online Sales
Thomason, NetMechanic, Inc.
Monday, March 08, 2004; 5:00pm EST
The 2003 sales figures are in and online sales boomed last year.
Total online sales in 2003 saw an increase from $4 billion to $6.4 billion.
Online commerce increased by 59% during the holiday shopping season.
Did your online business process its share of online sales? If not,
try these seven techniques that encourage visitors to buy.
1. Encourage impulse buys. Fast food restaurants understand
this concept. Think: "do you want fries with that?" Well, you can do
that online as well:
products. Amazon.com is a leader in this technique. An online
shopper searches for a particular book and clicks to view the
details and reviews. The detail page offers the book at a special
price if the customer buys it together with a book on a related
topic or by the same author.
products. If a customer buys a video game, ask if he'd also like to
buy some batteries, games, or other peripherals. Those are items the
customer may forget to purchase or might not realize are available.
Limited time offer!
A visitor is more likely to take advantage of a special offer if she
knows there's a time limit. "Only 2 days left!" But don't get
carried away. An advertised limited time offer really needs to
expire. Otherwise, you lose the trust of your customers.
online-only specials. Many Web users prefer to gather information
about products online. They visit a few sites to get an idea of what's
available and at what cost. But they don't complete the sale online.
Instead, many log off and head directly for nearest brick and mortar
store to make their actual purchase.
Combat this tendency by providing an incentive to buy online.
Advertise an offer that's only available at your Web site and you give
your visitors added incentive to become a customer. Remember though:
most users are quite well educated about what's available. They'll
know if your offer is really a special deal.
3. Ship larger orders for free. It doesn't take much more time
and effort to pack and ship 5 items than to pack and ship 1 item. It's
more efficient for you to pack more items in each order, so give
customers an incentive to purchase more at one time.
How? Many online shoppers really hate paying shipping charges. It's
not uncommon for the shipping charges for a small, low-priced item to
add an extra 50-70% to the purchase price and customers feel that
retailers take advantage of them.
But for a small retailer, small orders are a pain to deal with. Raise
your profit margin and encourage larger orders by offering free
shipping for multiple-item orders or orders that reach a certain
dollar level. Large online retailers have found to this to be very
effective at boosting sales.
4. Be honest about pricing. People want to know the total price
before they start filling out a shopping cart order form. Most users
will leave a site without completing their purchase if the site
doesn't show total cost - including shipping - before asking for
5. Provide great customer service. You don't want one-time
customers! It takes far more effort to attract new customers than it
does to keep existing ones. That simple concept seems to be forgotten
in these days of anonymous email and the torture of automated phone
"Press 1 for the Order Department, Press 2 for Sales, Press "Wish
Again" to speak to a live operator!"
Nobody expects you to
stay up all night to field phone calls, but promptly respond to
queries within 24 hours if possible. Forrester data shows that 42% of
US Web buying consumers made their most recent online purchase because
of a previous good experience with the retailer.
6. Create compelling Web site copy. Web site design is an
important component of Web site credibility, but design only takes you
so far. Visitors quickly note the design, but then look for content.
Format your content to reflect how people read online and consult The
Copywriter's Handbook for instructions on how to write persuasive,
convincing online copy.
7. Have complete product information and photos. People want to
see what they're buying and they want to know a lot about it. But
consider overall page size and download time when you're adding this
pages. You accomplish two goals when you create informational
pages. Pages loaded with useful information attract human visitors
and search engine spiders. Good information turns your site into an
authority site on the Web so customers feel more comfortable buying
images and link them to full-size photos of the product. Even if
you can post life-size images of your product from several
viewpoints, don't place them on the main informational page.
Instead, create thumbnail images the link to the larger photos.
Visitors with slow dial-up connections will thank you!
Use GIFBot to
optimize images. In fact, you should carefully optimize the size
of all the images on your Web pages. Use HTML Toolbox's Load Time
Check feature to identify slow-loading pages and optimize all your
images using GIFBot, NetMechanic's free image optimization tool.
Visitors have a
limited amount of time and patience, so make sure they're spending
time reading your content instead of waiting for the page to load.
Closing The Sale
The basic idea of methods 1-4 is to close the sale while visitors are
at your Web site.
They help encourage visitors to buy before they leave your site. None
of these methods are underhanded or unethical. They're based on common
knowledge of human nature. Successful marketing and salespeople use
them and so should you!
Even so, methods 5-7 are the most important because they depend on
your site having good content and service. The hard sell may work in
person (sometimes!), but it almost never works online. Spend the bulk
of your time writing good content that clearly describes your value
proposition, explains how your product works, and tells how much it
Good content will increase your search engine visibility, attract more
visitors, and encourage them to become customers.
About Source of Article
The author of this
article is Larisa Thomason, Senior Web Analyst with NetMechanic, Inc.
NetMechanic is an online service specializing in html code checking,
search engine optimization and web site maintenance and promotion. For
more information visit