Ecommerce and Closing the On-Line Sale
Website Hosting Ecommerce
You have worked hard making your web site attractive. Your shopping cart is setup and your products are displaying with catchy images. It took a long time to get here. To the point of sale (POS). The visitor has browsed, added several items to her shopping cart and is ready to make a purchase. Are you ready to capture that sale? Does your site instill confidence and deliver benefits visitors won’t find at the local mall? No?
Well, here’s an eye-opener for you. A large percentage of web users use their computers to:
- comparison shop for the lowest prices
- learn more about product features and benefits
- locate the local brick-and-mortar stores
- read product reviews from journals and buyers
- make buying decisions – plural. Web users decide what to purchase and where to purchase – two critical decisions that affect your site’s commercial success.
If you’re wondering why you’re seeing great traffic analytics to your web site but not converting as many sales as you anticipate, part of the problem might be your closing strategies.
How can you keep visitors from using your site for information, and then later make their purchase from a real-world store? Well, after all, a real world purchase is faster with instant gratification. The shopper can feel the product in their hands, ask questions, and decide for real if they want to own the product.
So what can you do to close more sales?
You need to close the deal. Your ecommerce store is a serious investment, both of your time and your money. You NEED to close more deals... after all, you need to make a living and your counting on your business income and, if your only given the chance, you know you can make your clients happy.
The allure of on-line shopping
To close the deal and and make a sale, consider the reasons why people use the web for browsing (instead of shopping). You can turn each of those reasons into a sales closing strategy, if you consider the buying process on your site in the mind of the buyer. Think like an online shopper. Test your shopping cart and really see what it is your online visitors see. What is it that can be changed? What can you do to improve the buying process? What can you do to close more sales? Because, after all, it is important.
Okay, let's assume that your visitors use your site to gather information and that once they have collected the information that they need, they jump in the car and go to the local brick-and-mortar store to make the purchase. Don't forget that you are asking the potential buyer to make a few sacrifices such as:
- Purchase from an unknown vendor
- Wait three to five business days before receiving their purchase in the mail
- Risk the additional hassle of returning the items, if they don't work out.
Buying on line can be a hassle, unless your ecommerce web site is positioned so that the shopping experience is defined well, and there is not one single doubt left in the mind of your potential shopper.
Strategies to close more online sales:
- Make it more convenient. Make the deal more attractive to your visitors. Outline the deal on your web site so that the visitor wants to click "Add to cart" in order to save time, hassle of battling the traffic at the local mall, and miss the crowds. Make life easier for your online shoppers. Buying from your online store should be convenient, a time-saver which results in the buyer becoming more productive with their time.
- Offer shipping options. Overnight delivery is an option that might just close the deal for you. Many shoppers need the items–fast! Offer overnight delivery for those emergency items that absolutely, positively must be there in the morning. This scenario is especially true of companies who sell to other businesses where room for error is non-existent. People will gladly pay extra to get their new item the next day. They won't think twice about paying an extra $20 to get their laptop tomorrow rather than by the end of the week. Keep in mind, however, that some buyers are more cost conscious so, always offer either free or low-cost shipping. Free shipping on orders over a certain amount is useful in getting the buyer to add one more item in their cart.
- Offer personalized service. Many companies have outsourced this responsibility, but the companies that handle this in-house have the opportunity to "Wow" their shoppers. If your company must outsource this task, make sure your phone representatives know your products, policies and company's terms and conditions. If they don't, it will cost you time and money in lost sales. You, the business site owner, will need to prepare scripts for the representatives who answer telephones or emails for hundreds of different companies to provide customer services. So, whenever possible, be sure that all products are immediately accessible to the representative with product specifications for callers with questions. Your representatives should always be set up to take the order and close the deal. They should always offer to process the order as part of their script. Think it through... if a potential buyer has taken the time and trouble to call your company, you are very near to closing the deal. A salesperson has not actually been asked to be a sales person unless the customer says "No Thanks" and, in that case, the sales person should be well-trained in the strategy of changing the caller's mind and closing the deal.
- Offer guarantees. Guarantees are real trust builders. There are many different types of guarantees that you can offer: product guarantees, shipping guarantees, satisfaction guarantees. And don’t hide these benefits in the fine print. Display your guarantees in a very visible location on both your web site and the back-end shopping cart.
- Keep your checkout process simple and re-assure your customer along the way. Your buyers, most notably your repeat buyers with whom you already have a relationship, should be able to make a purchase with a click or two. At every single step of the checkout process: (1) assure your buyer that he/she is on the right page and that everything is in order to this point; (2) provide a visible "back" button; (3) give buyers the means of which to change items and quantities without having to back out of the check-out and start over; (4) assure buyers that they are on a secure site in both your site text and through the use of trust-building logos from the BBB, Authorize.net, McAfee and other security-focused companies.
- Provide an immediate email invoice with order number. These invoices are generated automatically by reputable shopping carts and then sent to the buyer’s in box. Detail all order information, including anticipated ship and arrival dates and be sure to provide a telephone contact, in case the buyer has any questions.
- Offer additional incentives. Why? Because more than any other single factor, these incentives differentiate your company from the Wal-Mart across town. Wal-Mart may have their greeters at the main entrance, but your company can deliver a lot more in terms of personalized service and convenience.
- Gift certificates - This is the easiest way to send a gift, especially if your buyer doesn't know what to purchase. A gift certificate is always appreciated by the recipient.
- Personalized greeting cards - If the purchase is a gift, the option of sending a personalized note is a great strategy that can help close the deal. Many on-line shoppers, especially around the holidays, want to send along a personalized note with the gift.
- Gift wrapping - Offer unique gift wrapping options that are personalized for the recipient: grandparents and parents, kids, the corporate world, and others. A smart selling feature is to display the different wrapping options on the page during the check-out sequence. Remember, a well-designed image is worth a thousand words.
- Personal shoppers - A lot of men are not sure when it comes to things like jewelry and other gifts. Many buyers could use some help.
- Email reminders - Email reminders are excellent tools for online companies to increase sales. Buyers who tend to forget birthdays, anniversaries and holidays will appreciate the personalized email you send two weeks before the big day. And where are these buyers going to make their online purchases? From the nice web site that reminded them that now was the time to buy the gift for that special someone.
- Host your online store with a green hosting provider. Your buyers will appreciate the fact that your web site is powered by green energy. Many online shoppers look for "Powered by Green Hosting" banners on a web site and will leave a web site if they can't find one. Choose a green hosting provider that specializes in providing web hosting powered by Wind Energy.
These are the special services that differentiate your web site apart from the local chain stores. You may not be able to compete on price, but personalized services make your business different from all the rest, and many times, are the reasons buyers will wait a day or two and purchase from an unknown web site that is obviously focused on customer service.