It’s no secret that Aussies have been slow to embrace the online retail market. Gerry Harvey only recently announced that Harvey Norman will start selling product online in the next few weeks. He says he’s been reluctant to go online but knows he has no choice.
Myer is now selling products direct from China by setting up another site called myfind.com.
According to Forrester Research, the online retail sectors in Australia alone grew 17.5% to $28 billion last year but about a quarter of all online sales are going overseas.
Whether you’re already online or thinking about taking the plunge, here are some quick and easy tips for selling products online:
1. Invest in great product photography.
You know yourself that if something looks dodgy online, you probably won’t buy it. The imagery is probably the most important aspect of selling online because people can’t pick it up to touch and smell it like they can in a shop. It definitely pays to invest in a photographer but if you don’t have the budget for a professional, at least make sure of the following:
- Have great lighting. Use natural sunlight or buy some professional photographers lights if you need to take lots of shots on a regular basis. Consider setting up your own little studio at home. Check out Dragon Image to buy the right gear. They were extremely helpful when I bought my lights.
- Show different product angles. If you’re selling a bag, show it on it’s own, show the front, the back, when it’s open, on the inside, the front pocket and even show it on someone’s shoulder. The more detail you can give the better.
- Remove ugly backgrounds using free photo editing software like Gimp.
- Enable users to view enlarged photos so browsers can zoom into to see the detail if they want to. This is especially important if you’re selling clothes online. Don’t upload a tiny low-resolution image that you need a magnifying glass to see.
Here’s a great example of how product shots should be done. Rush Faster is one of the best shopping cart sites I’ve ever seen. They appear to have thought of everything!
2. Write compelling product descriptions.
Don’t just copy a few product specifications you got from your supplier’s website and leave it at that. Get creative. Highlight the benefits to your shoppers. Don’t just describe the product; tell them how they’ll feel when they buy your product. And make sure to use your keywords too. This is a hugely missed opportunity by a lot of online retailers so get cracking and beat your competitors to that traffic.
Read more about writing compelling copy.
Here’s a good example of getting creative with your product descriptions. This website Blikactually have a sense of humour, not to mention awesome wall decal products.
3. Categorise your products clearly.
Make sure you categorise your products well so that shoppers can find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible and in as few clicks as possible. Stick to the ‘3-clicks or less’ rule.
Ask your customers how they find your site to navigate. And if you really want to get into your user experience, check out Crazy Egg. It’s an affordable heat mapping software that lets you understand your users behaviour better by showing you a heat map of where they hover and click on your website. It’s pretty cool.
See below how Etsy categorise their products extremely well and even let you search by price and location.
4. Offer free shipping.
This is a tough one I know, especially for us Aussies. Our shipping costs are so expensive compared to other countries, it’s sometimes just impossible to offer free shipping, especially if you sell large products.
Consider these facts before throwing the idea out the window:
- 75% of people prefer to shop with online retailers that offer free shipping (Source: Forrester Research)
- 43% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts because of unexpectedly high shipping charges. (Source: Paypal, comScore)
- 90% of respondents said free shipping offers would entice them to spend more online. (Source: The Conference Board Survey)
- 72% of consumers said that if an e-commerce site eliminated free shipping, they would use another e-commerce site that did offer free shipping. (Source: comScore Survey)
Before making any decisions, I suggest is working out what it actually costs you. For help with calculating shipping costs, see Armando Roggio’s article and video, which discusses the free shipping equation.
If you simply can’t offer free shipping, consider offering free shipping over a certain amount instead then promoting it on your website as a point of difference eg. ‘Orders over $150 ship FREE!’ This will encourage buyers to add more to their cart to meet your free shipping quota but hopefully ensure you’re not out of pocket.
Sheridan have gotten crafty and set up a landing page to offer shoppers free shipping for their first order only.
Set some time aside over the next few months to implement these straightforward and simple ideas and watch your sales increase. A little bit of time and effort now can go a long way in doing business online. Of course there’s more ways to increase your sales when selling product online, check out Part II of this blog series.
Want to read more? Read Killer Tips for Selling Products Online – Part II
Thinking about taking the plunge into the online world of eCommerce? Let Web123’s eCommerce Shopping Cart take care of a lot of the hard work for you. If you’re new to selling products online, our eCommerce Starter Package is the perfect choice, and oh so affordable.