Contributed by @lexieludesigner
Tech innovations have made it substantially easier for people to launch websites even without extensive tech expertise. The other side of this is that increased competition in the marketplace makes it harder for websites to stand out and earn customers. Here are some actionable things you can do to help your e-commerce business thrive and double its profits in a year:
1. Conduct Market Research
Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of assuming they know what customers want, then offering it without actually asking them. One of the best ways to help your e-commerce business increase its profit margins is to talk to people about how you could improve. What products might they purchase if offered? Which factors discourage people from buying from you?
Qualitative marketing research — which focuses on observation and unstructured questions — is often more helpful than quantitative methods like polls and surveys. That’s because it tries to get to the heart of what the customer thinks. Once you know more about that, it’s easier to adjust your approach and make it cater to the things that drive people to buy.
Some company owners only engage in market research before launching the business. That is a valid time to do it, but learning about your customers can increase profits after the fact, too. Find out what products people want you to sell and what items might increase their average purchase size.
2. Maximize Your Website’s User-Friendliness
Statistics say that 59% of the world’s population uses the internet, with the United States ranking as one of the top three countries for the number of citizens online. Getting your website up and running requires going through several steps. For example, you need a domain name and hosting company, then you need to build your pages and set up your payment services, among other things.
Whenever you create your website from scratch or add something new, test it thoroughly with multiple devices, browsers and operating systems. If possible, hire people to go through the site without knowing about how it functions first — the same as your users would. Ask them to note anything that confuses them, discourages making a purchase or otherwise frustrates them.
If visitors agree your website offers a hassle-free experience, they’ll be more likely to become repeat customers who directly boost your profit margins. On the other hand, if your site has broken links, poor organization or any elements that make people doubt the site’s security, they’ll go elsewhere. You should also provide visitors with ways to offer site feedback. Respond to it promptly and guide individuals through troubleshooting when applicable.
3. Perform Price Assessments and Increase Value Offerings
Incorrect pricing could be a major reason your profits have not been as high as you’d hoped. Plan to review your business costs, current prices and pricing strategies every six months or after you notice sizeable shifts related to the overall marketplace or your competitors. After those assessments, look at instances where you raised your prices previously. How did customers react?
If you decide to raise prices, that could help your profit margins. It could also make people upset. The ideal way to avoid that outcome is to provide new things that genuinely offer value to customers. For example, you might donate a percentage of every sale to a charity. People appreciate that because they feel that their actions give back.
Another way to add value is to give people something extra if they sign up for one of the most expensive tiers of a subscription service or purchase a minimum amount of goods. Consumers love getting things for free, and you can cater to that desire in ways that raise your profits and keep people coming back. Outside of physical products, you can add value with additional services, like gift-wrapping, extended warranties or 24/7 support.
4. Set Accurate Expectations About Stock Levels
The added convenience is something people typically love about e-commerce shopping. Getting the things they want and need with just a few clicks saves them time and lets them avoid visiting physical stores. However, perhaps you’re in the scenario of having both a physical store and a site. In that case, a warehouse management system (WMS) can link both of them.
It automatically updates whenever someone places an order with you. New information also reflects when people buy things at brick-and-mortar stores. Focusing on the number of pieces in stock can also drive profit margins by encouraging shoppers to purchase merchandise immediately instead of waiting. You might use descriptors like “top-seller” along with numerical indicators, such as, “Only three left — order now!”
Your website should also offer people a way to receive notifications about replenishments of previously out-of-stock items. Providing that gives people the impression that you care about taking care of them, even if you can’t meet their needs immediately. When shoppers receive email reminders about restocked items, you don’t merely need to hope they’ll revisit a site to check for themselves.
5. Investigate Using Retargeting to Bring Customers Back
Many people don’t buy things from a website on their first few visits, even if they intend to do it. A ringing phone, fussy child or a rumbling stomach are a few of the many things that could distract consumers and prevent their purchases. Retargeting is a method of reminding people about your products so they come back to your site and take the desirable actions.
Retargeting efforts create anonymous browser cookies and indicate that a person has visited a site before. You can use platforms like YouTube and Facebook to show people ads based on those earlier visits. Another retargeting effort can occur if you have a shopper’s email address and they left something in a shopping cart instead of completing the purchase. Sending an email that urges them to complete the transaction can get meaningful results.
However, you don’t want your retargeting frequency to reach the point where it annoys people. Experiment with how often to show ads to customers to decrease the chances of disrupting the delicate balance and making consumers upset instead of thankful for your virtual nudge.
Stay in Customers’ Minds for Positive Reasons
Beyond these specific tips, you want to do everything possible to make your e-commerce site stick in people’s memories for all the right reasons. Aim to revisit all strategies regularly to identify new ways to boost profits while pleasing customers. Having a responsive approach makes you better able to handle shifts in customers’ tastes and the marketplace.