Struggling with low sales even though you’ve already got a pretty nice traffic flow? There are 2 possible reasons: your traffic is not qualified (people coming to your website do not really want to buy your products), and your user experience flow does not convert potential customers into actually buying.
In this chapter, we will solve this challenge how to increase online sales, by discussing 10 strategies that:
- Encourage customers to start adding items to cart
- Sell more to each customer, increase average order value (AOV)
- Re-engage and bring customers back to your store for repeat purchases
Let’s deep dive into these 10 strategies (and suggested tools) that work to increase online sales for online stores.
This complete 10-chapter guide takes days to finish. How about downloading an ebook version to read on your Kindle for bedtime reading or while you’re on the train?
#1 Upsell & Cross-sell relevant products
Upsells & Cross-sells are accountable for an average of 10-30% of eCommerce revenue. Familiar from the famous examples of McDonald’s, Pepsi, KFC,… upselling and cross-selling is the art of selling more to one customer by introducing complementary or upgrades then they are interested in a product.
Upselling & Cross-selling are different though the terms are interchangeable these days. Below is an example of an eCommerce store using Boost Sales app to run upsell and cross-sell offers:
Upsell = Offer higher upgrade alternatives:
Cross-sell = Offer a package of complementary items that go well together:
Upselling & Cross-selling are great tactics to increase unplanned purchases and boost average order value for online stores.
#2 Use personalized product recommendation to unveil product discovery
A couple of years ago, the giant Amazon revealed that 35% of their revenue was from product recommendations. Till now, 70% of Amazon’s homepage is covered with product suggestion blocks.
The technology has become the norm in eCommerce: product recommendation is generated and tailored to each shopper’s behavior and interests right on the store. By suggesting products that are relevant to what customers are looking for, this strategy not only prevents customers from leaving empty-handed but also motivates them to add more items to cart, thus increases average order value of the store.
Inspired by Amazon’s success, Home Music Tool store applies the same strategy on their website: on Homepage only, they place 4 types of product recommendation to target different criteria customers might use to browse products.
The 3 horizontal blocks are created by Personalized Recommendation app, which use built-in algorithms to collect and analyze shoppers’ data to generate tailored suggestions each shopper most likely wants to buy.
Besides homepage, you can place relevant recommendations on category, product, cart page to keep selling until customers reach the checkout. Amazon even suggests more items after checkout to motivate repeat purchases.
#3 Increase social proof with product reviews or recent-sales notifications
Social proof is your key to magnetic marketing: taking advantage of the crowd effect to attract more customers. How, in details?
When visiting your website for the first time, many shoppers are skeptical. Though shopping online is nothing unfamiliar, there are risks to some extent as customers cannot see or touch the physical products before paying. What if the products do not look like what they are pictured on the website, what if they do not function the way they are described?
Social proof can do wonders for you here: by showing to customers that many others shopped and had a happy experience with your store, you can build trust on your brand and encourage new customers to start shopping with you.
Get product reviews from previous buyers:
Importance of Online Product Reviews from a Consumer’s Perspective report finds out that “85.57% of the participants stated that they read reviews often or very often before they purchase online. Of the participants who read reviews, 83.65% compare positive and negative reviews with each other.”
Getting insightful reviews for products is critical to convincing shoppers that they are making the right buying decision. Yotpo is a helpful application for online stores to generate reviews via email marketing or on-site popups.
Here is an example of Thin Blue Line Store USA store using Yotpo to get honest reviews for their products:
Notify recent successful orders
Another great idea to leverage social proof to increase online sales is displaying recent-sales notification right on the store when customers are browsing around.
These Sales Pop notifications can be synced from your real sales data, or created for the purpose of promoting some specific items.
#4 Run affiliate marketing with influencers in your niche
Influencers have great power on social media. When they talk positively about something, it can become a trend blown up by their followers. In Chapter 4: How to drive traffic to your online store, we did mention that you can reach out to social influencers in your niche to have them promote your products and drive visitors to your website. Actually, you can even have them drive sales for you by combining with affiliate marketing.
Below is an example of JollyChic store who did affiliate marketing with Daniel Belle – a fitness model influencer on Instagram whose account has 665K followers who mainly are target customers of JollyChic:
The influencer introduced a discount code of 10% for her followers, sales made with this code would be her affiliate sales that he could earn commission from. Instead of merely promoting the brand, influencers have a higher initiative to convert followers into actually buying so they can earn affiliate commission.
#5 Add a countdown timer to create a sense of urgency
Online shopping on the Internet is ideal for impulse buying, which is becoming a common behavior nowadays since enabled by our culture of increasing fast goods consumption.
Products placed at the right position, with the right promotions, triggered at best timing, can highly promote impulse buying. One of the factors that have a high impact on this behavior is urgency.
When customers are considering making a purchase, you can show a time-limited offer (could be coupons, free shipping, freebies) and add a running countdown timer to motivate them to seal the unplanned deal.
#6 Limit stock availability to create a sense of scarcity
Another trick you can apply to promote impulse buys behavior is adding a sense of scarcity.
Many online shoppers just browse around or abandon their cart because they think that they can come back and buy any time after comparing with other retailers. They will act differently if they are informed that their favorite items will soon be out of stock if they don’t grab quickly.
You can set your inventory number lower than actual quantity to create an impression that your items are in high demand and will soon sell out. Design obvious badge, text or any kind of signs to let customers know that, as below:
#7 Start a Loyalty Program That Keeps Customers Coming Back
Since it costs more to acquire a new customer than to sell more to a current one, it’s important to focus on retaining existing customers. You can curate a loyalty program to motivate customers to spend more or make repeat purchase to earn reward points.
By asking your customers to join a loyalty program, you can promote impulse purchases (customers are more motivated to buy instead of shopping around because they can earn points to redeem later) and them into loyal customers.
#8 Use gamification to increase AOV
Gamification really changes the eCommerce game. Not only eCommerce gamification makes the online shopping process more exciting and interactive, but it also embeds some hidden motivators for customers to visit the store more offer and spend more on one purchase. The underlying theory is simple: it is like a game, they act more to unlock achievements.
Curls & Potions store applies a simple yet killing gamification technique to increase average order value: when customers add an item to cart, they tease a 15% discount code which will be rewarded if customers spend more to reach a minimum order value of $55:
This awesome trick is also powered by the Boost Sales tool.
#9 Send personalized re-engagement newsletters
Not only can you increase online sales on site but you can also sell more even when customers already left the site. Email marketing accounts for approximately 23% of online sales, making it one of the most cost-effective marketing channels in eCommerce.
Long gone was the time of mass promotional emails. Brands now execute personalized email automation to follow up with customers based on their behaviors with tailored content for better conversion.
For example, customers who browse but don’t buy anything will receive browse abandonment emails that remind them of items they saw and similar options. Those who abandon carts will receive cart recovering emails which direct them back to finish their cart. Customers who buy more than 3 orders can receive a coupon reward email for the next purchase…. You can keep in touch with customers at many points, as long as the content is relevant and engaging.
#10 Optimize mobile web for better mobile conversion
Don’t forget that eCommerce traffic is coming more and more from mobile (though sales conversion is far behind desktop). To prepare for the very soon future when mobile takes over desktop in generating the majority of online sales, you should pay attention to optimizing your mobile web
Mobile users scroll up and down so often to view content that they might miss where the CTA button is. Add a sticky Buy button with convenient options at the top so customers can buy anytime.
Mobile users also have a common habit of swipe left and right to view images. Instead of putting product images in vertical order, add a gallery so they can swipe just like on Instagram:
Source: Demo from Mobile Web Boost app
There could be a million creative ways how to increase online sales for eCommerce stores. What we suggest here are the most proven strategies applied by many big and small brands that drive real results. You can use the suggested tools in each strategy to test if it works for your business (most tools are free or have a free trial so you can start out at no cost).