Eight top tips for selling online

Woman making online purchase using credit cardThe world of ecommerce and selling online has come a very long way in the past few years, and there's more competition than ever. Chloë Thomas of eCommerce MasterPlan offers eight essential tips to help you sell more online

1. Establish your ecommerce strategy

To sell online well, you need to work out what your strategy is and stick to it. This includes your sales channels - are you online only (just selling via the website) or do you also have a physical store?

You'll also need to decide on the product range you're going to stock. Are you a specialist in one thing or do you sell a wide range of goods?

2. Think 'cross-device', not 'mobile'

Consumers don't think of browsing the internet on their mobile as being any different to using their tablet, desktop or laptop. So you can't afford to either.

Make sure you're providing the right customer experience across every platform (including your bricks and mortar shop if you have one).

3. Choose the right ecommerce software

There are so many different website options you can choose from - it's important to pick the right one for your business. Make sure you know how you will accept payments online.

Most businesses are best off starting with a simple off-the-shelf online shop template like Shopify or BigCommerce. These powerful ecommerce systems will do everything you need quickly and easily, so you can focus on your marketing.

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4. Take pride in online customer service

The common factor of all the successful businesses I've interviewed on my podcast is that they are committed to providing their customers with great service.

That doesn't just mean having nice people on the phone, it's about putting the needs of the customer first in everything your business does - from the products, to the website, to the delivery.

5. Create a great delivery experience

If you get your delivery strategy right, you'll increase the conversion rate on your website and encourage repeat purchases. Your delivery strategy covers everything from the price you charge and the services you offer, through to what arrives in the parcel and how the packaging looks.

It's really important to invest some money and thought in getting this right for your customers.

6. Encourage both the first online purchase and the repeat purchase

To be successful, you want to take people from not knowing about you to:

Many ecommerce businesses only focus on the first order and forget all about getting the second order - which is crazy because it's easier.

You'll find different marketing methods suit each of the stages of this journey. Test, analyse and change your plans accordingly.

7. Build a trusted online brand

Today's online shoppers are pretty savvy. Just as you wouldn't buy food out of a run-down, dirty old van, an online shopper won't buy from a website they don't trust. You need to work hard to build the trust of your customers - it's hard to gain, but easy to lose.

Trust needs to be built into every interaction the customer has with your business. Include customer testimonials and reviews on your site, deliver on your promises and make sure all the information on the site is accurate.

8. Keep optimising your online shopping experience

This is my personal motto. Nothing you ever do in your business will be finished; in some ways everything is permanently in test mode. So you have to have a policy of constant optimisation - find the area that is working the least well, and make it better.

Once that's done, find the next area you need to focus on - and repeat.

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Chloe Thomas

Chloë has been working in e-commerce since 2003, learning how to increase orders, up customer retention, and manage customer service well, in businesses from the high street to start ups.

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