Practical eCommerce asks industry insiders each month to share a great, innovative idea that could help an ecommerce company. Here’s what ten of them had to say for the May 2011 installment of "Ten Great Ecommerce Ideas."
Promote Overstocked Products with Flash Sales
"My idea to share with any industry online would be to implement ‘flash sales’ into your marketing strategic planning. Flash sales can be used for both products and services. It usually lasts for 24-48 hours only where a deeper discount is offered. It's a great way for merchants to promote overstocked products or products that are not selling so well. And, for service providers, flash sales can be great way to promote a new service or acquire new clients online.”
Founder & President
Bella Bella Boutique
Immediate Response Greatly Increases Conversions
“Drop everything and reply to email questions immediately. I have done some testing. When questions are answered within ten minutes, conversion rates can reach an unbelievable 90 percent. But, when I've been away from the office and answer between 12 and 24 hours later, conversion rates fall significantly.”
Arm Your Customer Service Agents
“Make sure your customer service agents are adequately trained and equipped with all of the necessary product and service details and an in-depth knowledge of your company’s offerings so they can rapidly — and accurately — answer customers’ and prospects’ inquiries. This is the most important thing to regular Internet shoppers, according to recent research.”
President and CEO
Ship Orders the Same Day
“We do whatever it takes to ship orders the same day. We had our UPS driver place us last on his route, and we still often make him wait to ship that last package. Having customers order at 4:30 p.m. one day and receive their (free shipping) orders the next day is priceless.”
Co-Founder and CEO
Streamline Your Shipping Costs
"If you have an in-house shipping department, make sure you are aware of the costs of your shipping supplies. Experiment with different box sizes. Buy in bulk. Recycle packaging materials. Your ultimate goal should be to minimize your shipping costs. By doing so, you protect your profit generated from your web sales."
Carlos D. Rivera
Increase Conversions with Search Options
“Online stores should have a search option; it will have a positive impact on conversion rates. Visitors do not always have the patience to browse throughout a website for a specific item. Providing a search option will make it much easier for potential customers to simply type what they are looking for via a search.”
Business Development Specialist
Profit Sense Innovations
Sort Options Provide a Sense of Quality
“Always provide your customers with the option to sort products by ‘top-rated’ or similar sorting options. There are some customers that purchase primarily based on quality, and if they don't have a quick way to assess your products, they'll go to a website that allows customers to get an objective sense of quality before they buy.”
Lead Project Manager
First Link Priority
“Few people know that Google gives a lot of weight to the first link it finds when crawling a web page. Make sure this URL is pointing to your chosen page, usually index.html, with keyword reputation. If you are not using this SEO tactic you are missing out on a lot of reputation for your site.”
Keep in Contact with Customers
“Once customers choose to do business with you, it’s important that you keep in contact with them. Once you receive an online order, besides having an automatic responder, try sending a more personalized thank-you note that acknowledges the customer for ‘choosing’ your company.
“Also, as the order is being processed, set up a order status page so customers can verify the status of their purchase. Or email customers the tracking number so they can track the shipment that way. Your customers will appreciate this added attention, plus it will make your company stand out for future purchases as well.”
Let Customers Help Drive More Sales
“Online consumers can help merchants drive more sales by leveraging mobile barcode technology through the use of social media. Urge customers to create their own viral, community-driven marketing programs by re-tweeting your sales offers with links to merchant-generated barcodes, and by sharing coupons with their Facebook friends. Merchants have the option to place controls on how long these offers may run, how many vouchers may be available, and other limitations.”
Got a great ecommerce idea you’d like to contribute? Email Kate Monteith at firstname.lastname@example.org.