ecommerce tips

By Dimitri Onistsuk

Is your ecommerce site prepared for holiday shoppers? The holiday rush is no time to start worrying about the small details. You will be inundated with customer questions and support requests, not to mention selling and shipping your products. When that happens, the main challenge of just selling your product eclipses small things like optimizing your content or setting up an email marketing campaign.

But those are just a few of the very important activities that keep your brand thriving, and while they seem minor on their own, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Plan these activities now, well ahead of the holiday rush. Here are 6 tips that will help you sell more.

1. Improve your content. Improving your site can be as simple as doing small things like search-optimizing your products (here’s a crash course on SEO) and making sure your pricing is consistent throughout your site and other marketplaces where you may have them listed. Pay attention to details: Make sure the product photography on your site is top-notch; product reviews are available; and the copy is consistent, relevant and convincing. Depending on your ecommerce software, plugins are available that help you improve the look, feel, and more importantly the conversion of your site.

2. Make sure you’re mobile-ready. In 2011, emails viewed on a mobile device surpassed 30% of all views. In Q1 of 2013 alone, mobile commerce grew by a staggering 31%. No matter how you look at it, you’re behind the curve if you’re not paying attention to mobile. When creating content, think about how it will look and feel on a mobile device. According to EDialog, 80% of users find viewing an email to be harder on their mobile device. Shoppers complain about having to scroll horizontally, having too much text, images not rendering properly and content not downloading fast enough. When developing site or email content, keep the width and height of mobile devices in mind (it’s best to approach 480w if possible); use smaller file sizes for images; limit the amount of copy; and, as always, test, test, and test.

3. Nurture your existing customers. Your customers shop with you year-round, and you work hard to build a great relationship with them. Chances are you also had holiday sales last year. Nurture those relationships and send a follow-up email with a loyalty discount or special offer to all of last year’s holiday shoppers to remind them that they should shop with you this year as well. Offering an advance, private promotion to your loyal customers will make them feel appreciated. Ask them to pass it along to a friend; this can be a very inexpensive way to get word-of-mouth for your brand.

4. Plan an email marketing campaign (one-off sales emails don’t count). Email has always been a top online marketing tool, so make good use of it. Planning an email campaign can be done for very little and the payoff can be great. Make sure you hit the most important days (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day, etc.), with reminder and follow-up emails. Or build anticipation by sending notices one week, then one day in advance of a sale. Just remember, moderation is key; ensure that your emails are useful to your customers, or they will unsubscribe.

5. Expand your sales channels. The number of sales channels customers use to get hot new products continues to grow. Today your customers can buy your products on your site, on a marketplace like eBay or Amazon, on a flash sales site like Touch of Modern or Gilt and even through a retailer. The list is long, and you would be remiss to not consider at least a couple of these channels. Marketplaces and product discovery sites like The Grommet curate amazing brands and their wares, and make it easier for customers to learn about new products. Today, fulfillment services have developed connections that allow you to integrate with multiple channels easily because of the demand of smart brands that do multi-channel.

6. Go international. Your customers are everywhere. Barriers to entering a new market are much smaller than they used to be, and there are many tools and partners that help you market, sell and fulfill your products internationally. There are even opportunities to sell online without internationalizing. If you sell in the U.S. and your packaging is in English, for example, you will likely be able to sell the same products in Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and more. Just those four countries alone constitute a market of more than 125 million people. While you don’t need to jump into the deep end right away, starting to sell in one or two new markets can be done before the holiday rush by sending your product to a local fulfillment center, integrating it with your ecommerce platform to avoid the hassles of customs and tariffs on individual customer orders.

Try to put these ideas into practice this holiday season. Even if you can only manage a couple, the results will surprise you and make your customers happy.

Dimitri Onistsuk is the Director of Marketing at Shipwire, a global fulfillment services provider with fulfillment centers in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia. Shipwire lets brands of all sizes grow sales, expand into new markets, and delight their customers by eliminating the hassles of shipping and storage.