Making the decision to build your own e-commerce site is that pivotal moment when you’ve finally decided to cross the Rubicon into the realm of entrepreneurship. Whether you choose to have your e-commerce site hosted by an all-in-one provider, or you develop your own site from open source software, it will be a costly investment. Fortunately, there are several cost-effective ways to optimise your e-commerce site to become a profit-making venture:
1. Remember When You Abandoned Me?
There’s nothing sadder than seeing a full shopping cart on its way to the loving home of a customer when it all of a sudden… *cue the violins* the shopping cart gets abandoned. You lament the tragedy by asking yourself is “Why? WHY did you ABANDON me?!?”
There’s no clear answer to that, but here’s a few reasons why customers suddenly back out at the last moment like a runaway bride:
- The customer’s web browser suddenly hangs/closes because of internet connectivity issues.
- The customer has an emergency to attend to and leaves the PC.
- The customer is simply not ready to purchase or finds a better product elsewhere.
- Your shipping and payment options are limited (you only take PayPal and not credit cards).
- Your e-commerce site doesn’t allow for purchases unless they register.
No matter the reason for the non-purchase, you can get customers to reconsider their buying decision – by automated email. Setting an autoresponder from an email marketing provider like MailChimp costs as low as $12.50 per month (depending on the number of email subscribers you have). So even if you convert 10% of those customers who abandoned their carts, that’s hundreds or thousands every month that you would have lost.
Set your autoresponder to email customers within an hour of them abandoning their cart – that’s when your company is still fresh in their minds (and it’s easier to get that sale!). I can sense eyes rolling already, I understand it’s because most autoresponders are written like
crap spam. So write yours like you’re talking to an actual human being. Here’s a quick example:
Dear Mr Lee
Thank you for visiting ChewingGum123.com.
We noticed you were on the brink of making an amazing purchase before you had to fly off and save the world. While you were away, we kept your shopping cart secure for you – click here, and within two minutes, you’ll be smiling about your latest purchase.
We’re happy to help you with any questions you have, so feel free to call us at XXX or email [email protected]
Thank you and have a great day!
2. It Pays to Look Professional
Let’s be honest, when it comes to e-commerce sites, customers usually judge a “book” by its cover, buying from attractive and safe sites. Would you buy the same product from a dodgy looking store that screams “rob me!”, or from a clean, modern shop in a mall?
If your e-commerce site looks professional and is easy to navigate, you’re more likely to gain customer trust – and that can really boost revenue. Looking professional means more than just spending a little more to get a premium site template or redesign.
Here are some optimisation tips that will inspire customer confidence in your e-commerce site:
- Be contactable: Not placing your phone number (with contact hours), email, or physical address (not necessary, but helps) is a HUGE red flag to consumers that spells “don’t buy from this site.” Not only is it bad customer service to have no contact info, but you also lose out on potential sales from customers who need clarification on something before buying.
- Accept plastic: Paying by credit card is the preferred (and most convenient) mode of payment for shoppers today. So if you’re relying on other methods like bank transfers or payment by check (who does that anyway?), it might scare away shoppers who are mindful of scams.
- What the FAQ: Want more credibility? Then have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that answers the most commonly asked customer questions you receive (return policy, shipping, etc.). Just make sure your information is clear and concise, as ambiguity tends to breed distrust about your policies.
- Introduce yourself: Every relationship begins with an introduction. So if you don’t introduce yourself to customers, people will be less likely to engage and buy from you. So tell your story and explain to your customers why you do what you do and what makes you different from other sellers.
3. Take Stock of Inventory Savings
It doesn’t matter whether you buy your inventory “on-site” (i.e. bringing back suitcases full of merchandise from Thailand, Indonesia, etc.) or directly from suppliers, inventory will make up the bulk of your expenses. But there are ways to save on your stock purchases.
Here are a few ways that you can optimise the profitability of your e-commerce business with inventory savings:
- Always be negotiating: Just because a supplier lists a price doesn’t mean that they won’t go lower, so always counter-offer any given price. If you’re making a large purchase, you have even greater leverage to get a lower price (or even free shipping). And always be sceptical of a ridiculously low price, because you may get what you pay for – low quality products.
- Return to your maker: Defective products happen. So before getting cosy with a supplier, make sure that they get charged for any returned/defective product. You’re already stuck with shipping a replacement product to your customer, so don’t eat the cost of the defective item as well.
- Sample the wares: Always request a free sample of a product that you can use for quality testing and photography for your e-commerce site. If you have hundreds of products on your site, the savings on these freebies can really add up.
- I come seeking terms: Negotiate with your supplier for longer payment terms (30, 60, or 90 days) so that you can add a boost to your cashflow. If you have a great credit rating and deliver good business to your supplier, you can definitely get better terms. And if you pay your supplier with a credit card (with a good rewards programme), you can increase your cashflow a little more.
Running your own e-commerce business does have its share of risks, but by using the optimisation tips listed above, you can improve the profitability of your venture well into the future.
Know of any other ways to optimise the profitability of e-commerce sites? Share them with us on Facebook!
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