Selling online has transformed the business landscape. For many businesses, all you need to get started now is a website. Once you’re all set up and ready to get selling, however, how do you drive customers to your websites and drive sales of your product?

Anjeli Patel is the founder of Ministylin, a website that sells stylish and contemporary fashion, toys and gifts for babies and children. She has extensive experience in the ecommerce space, and was the head of marketing for leading fashion brand Missguided. Here are her tips for increasing your ecommerce sales.

Having started my career in fashion marketing back in 2005 for iconic Manchester label Bench, my forte was predominantly traditional marketing and PR. Back then ecommerce, social media and digital marketing had just started to gain traction within the industry, so I jumped at the opportunity to work on the launch of Bench’s first transactional site. After a successful launch the insight I gained into ecommerce had me hooked! Eager to learn I made the move down to London to join an established ecommerce team at Aurora group and later moved back up to Manchester to join JD Williams, with more ecommerce and digital experience now under my belt I was responsible for the site and digital trading for four of their menswear brands. 

I was then presented an opportunity of a lifetime - working for Missguided. I joined a year after founder Nitin Passi had launched the brand from his Dad’s office in the heart of Manchester. Joining a team of seven (which included three warehouse staff and Nitin!) back in 2010, I quickly worked my way up to Head of Marketing. Over the five years I was there I was pivotal in implementing key marketing processes and strategies, and we saw the company achieving phenomenal sales growth in its millions year on year.

Missguided’s aggressive sales growth was down to an array of different contributing factors - from timing, strong and ambitious leadership, product and development, as well as the all important trading and marketing strategies. It’s all very well driving traffic to your site, but what are you doing to convert those visitors? Here are my five tips to increase online sales.

 

Customer experience

First, start by reviewing your store and what improvements you can make for your current visitor base. Go back to basics and ask yourself ‘Does your site provide the end user with a good enough customer experience to ensure they convert?’ Sounds simple, but if you’re not providing your customers with a flawless and sleek journey across your site, it will be difficult for you to convert those visitors into sales. Start with page load times. Page load times are also an important factor when it comes to search engine rankings. A study by Kissmetrics showed that slower page response times results in an increase in page abandonment, with around 47% of consumers expecting a web page to load in two seconds or less. 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Furthermore a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Page load times are just one element to providing a good customer experience, but also vital to ensure you are keeping those visitors on your site in order to convert and increase sales.

 

Highlight important conversion driving information across your site

Review your key selling points and ensure that these are being promoted across your site - for example if you offer free delivery this would be a key conversion driver, therefore make sure you are promoting this as a primary message where relevant. By regularly reviewing your site and using behavior data in Google Analytics it will inform you of where you need to make improvements in order to convert more visitors and increase your sales; it goes back to whether you are providing your visitors with a good experience. Online shoppers don’t want to be clicking around for important delivery and returns information - they want to have essential details integrated within their customer journey so it’s within reach on their way to the checkout!  

Product, price and photography

It’s easy to get caught up with driving visits. With that in mind, are you looking at how competitive you are? Do you have any gaps in your product range in comparison to your competitors and according to key trends for the season? Is your product imagery good enough for your customers to make a decision to convert? Ensure you are regularly reviewing these areas on a daily or weekly basis. Do your competitor research and make actions on how you can improve your offering to increase sales.

Implement a retail calendar and trading strategy

One of the most essential activities to any online business is to ensure you have a trading strategy robust enough to hit your revenue targets. Regardless of whether you’re selling clothing, beauty products or electrical equipment, it’s vital you have a retail calendar of key events such as paydays, bank holidays, seasons etc in order for you to plan tactical promotions to improve your sales. Another element to your trading strategy is how else you’re going to trade the site i.e. are you up-selling, or offering related items on product pages? Do you have an incentivised visit capture to ensure you are converting new visits? Customer acquisition is just as important as your retention strategy; make sure you have developed a plan to constantly convert new customers, and how you’re going to convert them into sales as well as how you’re going to keep people coming back to your site.

Develop a social strategy

Anyone knows that in order to increase your revenue you need to drive visits. However, the growth in the ecommerce world and saturation of certain industries has made it harder for ecommerce sites to attract the critical mass of visitors needed to increase revenue and to stay in business. Luckily the introduction and explosion of social media has empowered businesses (especially small startups) to build and promote their products and services in a cost-effective way. Therefore it’s vital for you to develop and implement a social media strategy detailing your posting times, content schedule, and testing activity for each channel.

Grow your community by posting at least daily and driving traffic through your content. It’s important to launch your brand on social channels suited to your audience and ensure that you are posting daily across all platforms. Different audiences react to different posting frequencies, so make sure you are testing the optimal frequency with your own audience to look at the engagement levels in comparison to posting frequencies of your competitors for a benchmark. Review your Google Analytics to see how your posts are converting into sales, and continue with what’s working as well as testing what’s not.

These tips are just a few of many! I haven’t touched on audience targeting on Facebook, Instagram advertising or Facebook boost posts, Google shopping or the use of multivariant testing - let alone ensuring your technical SEO and long-term ranking strategies are in place, email marketing and segmenting content. There’s also blogger and influencer outreach, PR and celebrity placement. In fact every thing you do regardless of activity will eventually result in increasing a sale through attribution. So, it’s important that you plan, test activities, analyse and learn as a constant process throughout your journey. 

My whole career has set me up to launch my own business, but it was the five valuable years spent at Missguided which has equipped me the most with lot of learnings and priceless experience, leadership and ambition to branch out on my own!