Four easy ways to increase your online sales

Contributor - Chris Barling

Extreme close up of a British £5 note

There are many ways to improve your website when you are selling online but sometimes it's the simple things that make the biggest difference. Chris Barling of SellerDeck suggests four easy ways to improve your online sales - immediately

There's an old saying, "the best is the enemy of the good". What it is saying is that we sometimes ignore the simple and mundane in an attempt to achieve the fantastic, then end up not even achieving the modest returns available from a simple approach.

In ecommerce, this can be surprisingly true, and some of the simple stuff can be very easy to implement. Basic ecommerce solutions, such as simplifying the customer's experience of shopping on your website, can make an almost immediate difference to your online sales.

1. Make sure that your website hosting is fast

Google has revealed that a half second delay in loading a web page can reduce traffic by 20%. Unfortunately, Google doesn't disclose the basis of its rankings, so it's not clear whether this is because Google ranks sites higher if they respond fast or simply because customers react better to fast sites. It may be a combination of the two.

What we have noticed in our business is that as we have moved customers to quick website hosting packages, we have seen an increase in traffic to the sites of typically 50%. Adobe also agrees: it has recently stated that "improving speed can reduce abandonment rates by up to 41%" when selling online. If you use an ecommerce website developer, it's worth asking them about this.

2. Don't ask people to create an account to shop at your online store

Many people already have too many passwords to remember and find being forced to create another account very irritating. I personally never buy from a store that forces me to do this, and I'm not alone. Unless people have decided to buy regularly from you before they complete their first order (which they won't have), forced account creation will lose you sales.

3. Use postcode lookup to fill in address details automatically

If you do this you will get a small proportion of additional orders, because checking out looks more professional and is simpler and quicker - meaning fewer people will be interrupted during checkout by a phone call, dinner or whatever. You will reduce costs because delivery addresses will be more accurate and there will be fewer failed deliveries.

Also, if you do any marketing through the post, the communication should make it through. The cost of failed deliveries is huge, once the time taken on the phone, additional cost to redeliver, and damage to reputation is all taken into account. Installing postcode lookup software on your site will minimise all of this.

4. Reduce checkout clutter and test making small changes

There are documented cases of doubling sales by removing the discount code field from checkout, and increasing sign-ups by 200% by changing a link saying "Free trial" to "See plans and pricing." It sounds boring to experiment with the website checkout and measure results, but it can yield more than you can imagine. I won't try and explore the reasons for these two examples, as customer demographics and the variety of goods and services sold make every case different.

The point is that massive and unexpected gains can result from small changes. If you don't experiment with your ecommerce website design, you can't find this out.

Boring, but effective

None of these suggestions are particularly exciting, but most, if not all, will increase orders, reduce costs, or both. The big benefit is that they are easy to implement on your ecommerce platform, particularly if you use a packaged ecommerce product with these features built in.

What are you waiting for?

Ecommerce content edited by Chloe Thomas of eCommerce MasterPlan.

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Chris Barling

Chris Barling is the Chairman of Powered Now, a company he co-founded. An enthusiastic entrepreneur and business angel, Chris has a passion for helping small businesses take advantage of new technology. He has over 40 years' experience in the IT industry.

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