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10 Top Tips for Online Retail

At yesterday’s CMJ virtual Growth & Learning Network meeting, we invited guest speaker Chris Carroll from digital agency MGC to give retailers his top tips for selling online and increasing engagement with customers on social media. He gave 10 tips to seriously consider if not being done already, which are both easy to do and cost-effective.

 1. Make sure your mobile version of your website is as good as your desktop version. 54% of sales online are now made through mobile devices. Many website developers concentrate on the desktop version in design, when good developers must design for mobile first now. Is your website easy to navigate on a mobile device?

2. Gain trust. The best way to do this is via reviews, so make sure you encourage customers to leave reviews on all products and services. It is now reported that up to 93% of buyers depend on reviews to inform purchase decisions. There are many easy-to-install modules that automatically contact your customer for feedback after purchase so if you don’t already do this, it would be of benefit to start implementing strategies to enhance this immediately.

3. Add communication to your website. Live chat modules such as HubSpot and Zendesk, as well as communication methods such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are all services that are easily incorporated into your website and – best of all – free. The difficulty for many online purchasers is deciding whether the item they are viewing is as it seems. Buyers want to be comfortable and know that they are secure in making a purchase. Live chat enables you to recreate the customer service you strive for in your stores. It allows you to chat with the buyer, give them options and recommendations and also, from a business point of view, upsell if possible. We have seen transactions increase using this strategy and is worth the time and investment to action. Build your own customer service online and create trust for your buyer. 

4. Make sure your basket is a one-click purchase. Don’t ask users to register, don’t take users through multiple processes and pages to pay for a product. With multiple plugins available, one-page checkouts are a must. Auto-completion tools are now standard to populate the billing information through a simple postcode entry. Increase your payment options with PayPal and now, even more crucially, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and Klarna. For increasingly time-poor buyers, allow them to check out as quickly as possible and you will see an increase in sales and a decrease in basket abandonments.

5. Showcase your products in the best possible way. Buyers are attracted by the images they see. Can you zoom in? Can you see the product from multiple angles? Many retailers are now offering 3D images to increase buying trust. Invest in a good camera or a good photographer – or a tool such as offered by new CMJ supplier Picup Media – to make sure your products look the best they can be.

6. Know how your website is working. Install Google Analytics and tracking pixels on your website. Tracking pixels gather information about visitors on a website about how they browse, what type of ads they click on, what pages are visited, and the process they went through to purchase from you. This behaviour data helps you target the user with ads that are likely to be most interesting to them.

7. Invest in paid ad campaigns. The most valuable action for any retailer is getting customers’ eyes on products. To obtain this in a short amount of time and in a cost-effective way if done correctly, look at running FaceBook adverts and Pay Per Click adverts through Google. Using analytics, you can identify your target audience, the products they are buying and how to get in front of them. Done correctly, the ROI from well-structured adverts should reach as a minimum 3–5 times return on your ad spend. A great strategy should constantly be reviewing the cost per customer in ad spend reducing this spend value through tightening your targeting.

8. Create a sense of urgency. When buyers are faced with a great deal but on a time scale, the urgency and impulse to buy increases. For example, add a count down to your website on all products for next day delivery if ordered before a certain time. Include time-sensitive offers with countdowns to increase the urgency to buy now. This process is a simple development that can be added to your website with little expense, but can have a big impact. 

9. Offer click and collect. It is reported that up to 68% of retailers are now employing click and collect strategies to their online stores – and the government has stated that these can still operate during the second lockdown in England. Buyers no longer want to wait at home for a delivery, and retailers can reduce delivery costs by offering a collection service at the buyer’s leisure. By looking into options such as remote pickups or store pickups, for example, this can enable shoppers to purchase items online and pick them up in-store, merging ecommerce and bricks and mortar.

10 Use social media. Social media is extremely powerful at enhancing your brand and hitting the mass market. Whether you want localised custom, national or international, getting social media right is a game-changer for any business. Simple steps to do this are as follows:

– Create social media pages for your business, particularly on Facebook and Instagram.

– Invite friends and family to like your page and encourage them to share content to grow your audience. On average, every person knows 100 people. 

– Create interesting and relevant content. For retail, video is the best way to increase visibility and feature new stock, highlighted items or star buys. Use your network to expand your business network.

– Always encourage interaction with customers on social media by asking questions and running opinion polls. Social media credits how popular your content is – the more likes, shares and comments you have, the more visual your page is.

– Once you have created social media content, run cost-effective adverts targeting your most lucrative target market. For example, if you have a great wedding ring range, you can target local people whose relationship status has recently changed to “engaged”. Target people within travelling distance of your store and you have a ready-made targeted audience.

Chris Carroll is the commercial director of digital agency MGC. He works with clients to establish goals, create new clients and deliver a return on investment. He will continue to work with the CMJ to offer bespoke consultancy and advice to our members.

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