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8 ways to attract customers and boost sales

With the holiday period underway, you may be looking for ways to win new customers and boost sales. Here are eight ideas to consider adding to your ecommerce site.

1. Bartering. This could be the oldest trading system of all, where merchant A swaps a service or product with merchant B for the equivalent value. Bartercard, formed in 1991, operates in Australia, New Zealand, U.S., U.K., U.A.E, Thailand, and Cyprus. It is the best-known bartering system. I joined Bartercard for my first website business in 2000, enabling writers, illustrators, graphic designers, printers, and the like to sign up for my media industry portfolio website,, swapping the cost of their membership for service such as printing and event hire. You introduce your services to a new clientele, but you have pay cash fees to belong, and agree on the value of the services being swapped as you can undersell yours, or over-pay for what you receive.

2. Birthday offers. If you ask your customers for their birth dates when they sign up, they’ll be more likely to provide this in return for a special offer for their birthday. If you make it valid for their birthday week, they may use the discount, or ask their friends to use it to buy something for them. Many people like to treat themselves for their birthdays.

3. Buy-back. If you sell items that become obsolete — such as electronics — a buy-back system lets your customers sell these secondhand products to you for a reduced price. You may then sell these items or use their value towards a trade-in. This option may also work if you sell more than is needed of a particular product — such as party goods — to refund customers for those not used.

4. Early bird offers. Many event companies provide incentives for customers to book their tickets early by providing discounted tickets. If you sell items which have in-built expiry dates, such as Christmas trees, personalized gifts for an anniversary, or insurance policy renewals, offer early bird prices that increase as the date grows closer.

5. Gift certificates. Far too many online retailers are yet to add gift certificates. I was trying to buy a gift certificate for my stepmother at a nearby nursery and on finding it had none listed, had to contact the company via Facebook to arrange a certificate to be created and posted to her.

6. Gift registry. Consider joining a universal online gift registry like My Registry that lets customers easily add items from your website to their registry. People set up registries for babies, birthdays, graduation, housewarmings, and weddings; virtually anything can be added as a gift. For example, we added a remote door viewer, a mailbox, and a doormat to our wedding registry, in addition to the usual kitchenware.

7. Lay-by. This old-fashioned payment system has come back in fashion ahead of the holidays, allowing customers to pay off their purchases in increments, usually for up to four to eight weeks. It is commonly introduced from July onwards for the toy retailers. It spreads your customers’ expenses, and you secure the sale. A modern version of this is PayPal Credit which may be ideal if you have high-priced products.

8. Membership program. Can you add your products and services to a loyalty or membership program, such as an airline frequent flyer program? Many of us clock up miles on our travels which are never enough for an actual flight, but which could be redeemed towards a gift card, or product or service.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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