Jun 25, 2008

10 Ways To Improve Your Online Sales

If you're seeking ways to boost both online and face-to-face sales of products and services, then you might want to know some of the top marketing expert's suggestions.

I've put together a powerful list of 10 simple and easy ways you can improve your online sales, starting right now.


1. Match the product with the message.

A more fancy version of this is if you've been sharing a story about how the cars at your new automobile dealership offer more green options and higher energy efficiency, you might want to link to the top-three selling automobiles you carry that offer greener solutions and demonstrate the impact on the environment or global carbon emissions by choosing the car you offer. A simple graph that shows the difference over the automobiles life, then directing the user towards the car that meets their desired impact, would steer them towards an easier shopping experience.

A less-complicated sales pitch that matches the product with the message would be where, at AspireNow, I wrote an article about how to live your life more successfully. Within that article, I offered a link to a Life Purpose program to help people get more from the interactive workbook and audio CD.

If your customer is searching for tea health benefits, then you ought to offer a way to buy your tea based upon the highest health benefit, depending upon the type of tea you offer. Match what they seek to what you deliver and you'll raise sales by over 30%.

2. Offer a "product bundle" solution.

One of my clients shared with me today that when they included a "bundled" solution of a free mug with any double-order of their products that their average sale price went from $15 to $50 per order. I like 300% return solutions, don't you? So, offer a bundled solution. You'll gain more business in less time.

3. Present a down-sell opportunity when they don't buy the bundle.

If you're seeking a way to capture the people who balk at the "bundle" solution, put a pop-up window when they click out of the store at any point to offer them a chance to give feedback on why they didn't buy OR buy a single product at a discounted price. Studies I've seen show this technique provides valuable feedback into the sales process AND delivers 30% higher sales results of the single item you sell.

4. Offer repeat purchasers of the bundle solution a chance to buy an up-sell.

If people are clicking on the bundle and they've ordered this before, you might then offer an opportunity for the user to buy a bulk huge up-sell. For example, if they buy two + the bonus, they pay $50. But for $500, $5000, or $15,000, they can qualify for extra discounts (or more products) and pay less per order. This is the concept of Costco and other big-box stores in action. People like the option to "super-size" their order - especially when they're buying on a corporate budget. The best time to offer an up-sell is during repeat purchases of a popular product.

Also, if they bought the single product before, make sure they know they can buy the bundle or up-sell bulk, too, if they want to super-size their order, and save time and money.

5. Offer a company purchase plan or corporate purchase program.

If you're selling products or services purchased by corporations, you might consider a company purchase plan. If they sign-up for the corporate purchase agreement (pre-approved orders), they get an opportunity to buy in bulk at a discount. It's basically just another flavor of the up-sell, but targeted towards the corporate purchaser who likes to order off a purchase order or within standard guidelines and where the buyer gets rewarded for saving the company money. Marry the two and you've got a recipe for success! This technique is used by companies like Staples and OfficeMax, but why not for products and services a corporation might buy, like things in the break room, or things they frequently buy or provide for customers. Examples that come to mind include coffee, tea, soda, water, juice, food, shirts, hats, and more.

Are you enjoying this article? Listen to the radio show for extra tips and suggestions, with ideas and stories by the author and CEO of ARRiiVE: Business Solutions, Scott Andrews!

6. Offer a "friends and family" plan.

Network marketers are masters at selling to their friends and family members. Why shouldn't you, too? Give your clients an opportunity to refer their friend(s) and get bonus products or discounts. When you utilize this type of discount or "scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" policy, you're taking advantage of the best form of marketing there is: word of mouth. The timeshare industry is great at capturing referrals at the point of sale. When a visitor purchases a timeshare vacation package, they then offer them a "free vacation" or additional vacation time if they simply refer five to ten family members and friends. When is the best time to capture the referral? When the customer buys! Make sure you don't miss the opportunity and give people a reward if they refer a friend or family member. This is the concept Seth Godin talks about in his marketing book about starting an "Idea Virus" for your company.

7. Offer cross-sell opportunities within the shopping cart when they've already selected another item.

By cross-selling, don't automatically make them choose the cross-sell. Just offer it and say "other customers found these items useful" or "other popular products" or "products that match this product's color" or something similar. When you offer cross-sell opportunities, you can raise your gross margin from 6% to 18% simply by suggesting some products that offer you a higher margin from the loss-leader they first put in their cart. I used this technique once with selling computers. I discounted the primary CPU, Monitor, and Printer to 6%, but left the peripheral products off the price list. Printers have lower margins and offer you little profit. Print cartridges, on the other hand, have considerably higher margins. Service contracts, software protection programs (virus protection) and software renewal licenses offer high margins. Offer these at the point of sale and you'll increase your sales and profit percentage per customer dramatically. The customer bought from me, and I'd always ask them if they wanted to add the peripheral products with margins between 28% to 50%. As a result, I increased my profit per sale from 6% to 18%. Triple the profit is a number that works for me!

The best time to offer a cross-sell is during the order checkout process. This process is utilized by Apple Store quite effectively.

8. Put items on sale at the top of the page and at the bottom of the page.

People like getting a good deal, so show the sale items above the fold and near the top of any page where you list those products. When you walk down a mall, you'll notice that many stores will put their "on sale today" sign in their window. You walk in the store and a clerk says "How can I help you today?" You can say "I'm seeking the item on sale from the window." They then can say "Oh, I love that skirt! Did you see the cute top that matches it perfectly?" and then they're interacting with you. It ought to be the same online.

The back of the store also will include any seasonal deals. Are you including both specials and seasonal deals in your pricing strategies? If so, make sure to sprinkle some of the hot deals above the fold, then additional deals at the bottom of the page so you catch additional orders on their way out. In addition, make sure you include bundles and bulk purchases near the sale product links, too, or in the store ordering page.

9. Offer alternative solutions.

Is the item out of stock? Sometimes, you can still capture a sale by suggesting a similar product that might meet the need. Don't leave your customers empty without a suggestion for an alternative solution!

I cracked up when I saw Frank Kern use the marketing ploy "Buy this e-book today. We're only offering 101 of these before they'll be sold out and I'll never offer that one again!" Now, whether or not Frank stopped sales at 101 or not (I highly doubt it) is beside the point. He simply put urgency into the mix. However, what if he did stop selling the e-book? He could offer you an ALTERNATIVE that perhaps costs less and offers more, and make you feel like you got an ever better deal, right? Don't leave your customer holding an empty bag. Give them something to put in the bag. Perhaps a different color, flavor, size, or type of product will fit the bill. Maybe they don't want black, they want white. Maybe they want the opposite of what they bought. Whatever you do, just give them a choice and you'll have at least a chance to sell something, versus nothing. Give them an alternative and you'll increase your sales, guaranteed.


In addition, one step many companies miss is when a product is returned. If you are returning one product, can we suggest an alternative that might work better for you? By simply adding this sales-oriented step into the customer service return process, you can capture an additional 5 - 25% sales and recoup the lost business. The alternative product at the point of return minimizes your cost of product returns and also offers an extra step in customer service that many customers will appreciate.

10. Make the customer's navigation of your site and store functional so it is easy to buy from you.

How many steps does it take to complete a sale? Is it easy to sign-up for your newsletter? Can they register to buy in one easy process?

Think of this scenario: Two stores selling the same product offer different ways to purchase. Store A requires the visitor to go to the bottom of the third page and then navigate through three store pages in order to purchase the hottest new pair of shoes. Store B has the hottest shoes on the first page, above the fold, and the client is completing their order by their third page, in total. Who do you think sells more shoes per visitor? Right! Store B.

Make sure you offer an purchasing process that makes it easier to do business with you! If you're seeking help with your sales process or online selling presence, contact a professional, such as ARRiiVE Business Solutions (Call 805-459-6939) to help you improve your processes to match industry best-practice solutions.

If you're missing any of these opportunities to increase your sales, you're missing out on revenue, profit, and additional orders. Take the time to shore-up your ordering process and see if you can't capture a higher percentage of success over the next year by following these steps to success!

Listen to the ARRiiVE: Innovations In Business Radio Show on "10 Ways To Improve Your Online Sales" with special bonus tip by Scott Andrews, CEO of ARRiiVE Business Solutions:


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