Digital research leader eMarketer predicts that U.S. e-commerce sales will increase 13.7 percent this year, and those sales—excluding digital downloads, event tickets and travel purchases—will top $188 billion. Even businesses that traditionally shy away from selling directly online are discovering new and inventive methods that can speed up cash flow, attract new customers and capture more immediate revenue.
Is your business ringing up new direct sales opportunities online? Make sure online customer transactions are a lead component of your digital marketing strategy. Think “Frontline E-commerce.”
Integrate “micro purchase points” within informational Web content… Many online shoppers simply don’t take the time to browse through extensive multi-page, catalog-style shopping sites. Instead, consider inserting simple, stand-alone “buy now” buttons placed within existing narrative text and images describing the many features and uses of your product.
Clicking “buy now” opens a new small supplemental “order collection window” that disappears and returns the shopper to the original content after the order has been placed. You may further simplify the integrated buying process by maintaining a copy of your customer’s previous account information and shipping instructions which can be prefilled to reduce the number of keystrokes required by the customer to complete the next sale.
E-commerce goes multi-channel… The convenience of purchasing products and services online is more accessible than ever. Make sure that your online storefront fully supports “m-commerce” (purchases made through mobile devices) and “t-commerce” (sales using computer tablets). You can’t afford to overlook these rapidly growing audiences. Not all shopping applications work equally well across these different devices., so make certain that your online shopping application functions properly for smartphone and iPad shoppers, as well as traditional desktop consumers.
Emerging NFC (near-field communication) technologies will soon make mobile phone transactions easier, avoiding the need to enter credit card data to complete the sale.
Leverage LinkedIn “People” to request valuable online introductions with key decision-makers who work within companies where you would most like to secure new business. Requesting online referrals from both your direct and secondary LinkedIn network of connections can produce immediate and effective results.
Not ready for prime-time digital commerce? Try constructing a straightforward product Web page that simply includes a “click-to-call” feature that dials and connects the smartphone shopper directly to a live sales associate who can complete orders verbally.
Sell through third-party e-commerce venues… Without your own individual online storefront, you can still quickly implement a successful e-commerce strategy by selling your products and services through established third-party websites, such as eBay and Amazon. Deal-of-the-Day services like Groupon, LivingSocial and Restaurant.com can also generate quick sales while also introducing your company to new audiences.
Create “service packages” that are designed to facilitate online sales… Companies who sell services rather than tangible products can also generate revenue streams with a strategic e-commerce plan. Create an entry-level or trial service package that can easily be described, priced and sold online. Promote a low-cost, introductory planning or consulting session. Offer an added gift or incentive to customers placing a small online deposit for an upcoming service. For existing customers, present a secured, streamlined “order form” that collects sales on a simple “bill me later” basis.
Increase revenue with a rapid “post-sale” response… A modern e-commerce strategy emphasizes repeat transactions. Present an additional, limited time “discount code” or “printable coupon” on the original order confirmation screen promoting additional quick follow-up sales. Offer an incentive to customers who are willing to pass along email referrals to friends and associates just after their own initial online purchase. Send special “upsell” offers via email to customers within just a few hours of their original purchase.
Content contributed by CC Communications, a Web design, programming and Internet media company providing a full array of services to businesses and organizations to enhance and produce effective Web, email, multimedia marketing initiatives and business process improvements. For more information, contact Kip Cozart at 704-543-1171 or visit www.cccommunications.com/resources_articles.cfm.