In the first of this two-part BusinessMinded article, Markus R Sæther from ecommerce experts VikingWeb gives practical advice and tips on how to optimize your webshop to sell more.
I’ll start by saying it’s almost impossible to make a ‘hard and fast’ blueprint on how to succeed with ecommerce, because it’s a sales channel that is constantly changing from a technological, marketing and user experience perspective.
The most important consideration is that you apply the same qualities to your webshop as you would to your business:
- Exceptional knowledge of your audience and target market
- Deep competence in the products your sell
- Solid business plan and a clear vision of what your webshop offers the market
A good question to ask yourself as a business owner is ‘’what will make my webshop distinctive and how will I implement this?’’ For example, Nelly.com is established in eight countries and is known for fast delivery and a focus on customer service, among other things. The shop has an enormous selection with over 800 known brands in their assortment.
Here are some tips on webshop fundamentals for people in the initial phase of using ecommerce. These are based on experience from VikingWeb’s own customers, plus advice which is very simple and extremely cost effective to implement, but which unfortunately many businesses don’t follow.
Limit your product selection
It can be difficult to limit your assortment and focus on a few core products at first, especially when you are no longer constrained by the number of square feet in your retail outlet or shop. However, there are many advantages of starting your webshop with a limited product selection.
By offering fewer products initially, you make it easier for yourself to publish and update quality content such as images, product descriptions, expert tips etc. Importantly, you’ll limit the cost and time spent marketing and managing products, while also giving your customers a clearer picture of what your webshop can offer.
Unique Selling Propositions (USP)
Flesh out a handful of your company’s ‘customer promises’ or brand attributes that give genuine value for your customers, then promote these throughout your ecommerce site. This makes you appear more reliable as a supplier and strengthens your market position.
Ensure these USP’s and messages are displayed prominently at key points in the buying process such as the homepage, product page and at the checkout. For example, your USP may be ‘’top quality products with no-questions-asked return policy if you’re not 100% satisfied’’. This message should be reinforced using clear text or graphics at each of the buying stages mentioned above in your online store.
Some examples of successful VikingWeb customers in Norway who have adopted a good strategy from the outset include men’s underwear brand www.comfyballs.no and maker of women’s shorts and trousers www.weightless.no
A 2013 report on the ecommerce industry by Bring, one of Scandinavia’s largest postal and logistics providers, clearly showed that among people who do not buy any goods or services online, lack of information and perceptions about security were the biggest barriers to them shopping online.
The lesson for you as an ecommerce business is not to take for granted that visitors to your online store trust you as a supplier. The good news is that there are a number of relatively simple steps that can help build confidence, trust and optimize your webshop to sell more:
- Have contact information and company information clearly and easily available on the site.
- Use the appropriate currency and language on your site. For example, if your core market is Norway, then use Norwegian text and display prices in Norwegian Kroner.
- Apply for and prominently display any relevant ‘trusted site’ certificates in your target markets e.g. Tygg-handel from Distansehandel Norge.
- Display customer references and product reviews.
- Display your SSL certificate.
- If you sell well-known brands or are an authorized distributor for a larger company, make this clearly visible on your site.
- Try to get PR featured in industry magazines or websites, which will make it easy for prospective buyers to find you in search engines.
- Be up front about pricing.
- Make the purchase information and your terms and conditions easy for your customer to find and understand.
You can build ‘trust by association’ by using logos from well known payment or logistics suppliers such as VISA on your site. Obviously, make sure you have the right to use these logos.
Simplicity and choice
If there is one word you should remember from the Bring (2013) ecommerce research report, it is ‘choice’. In order to optimize your webshop to sell, customers must have the freedom to choose how they want to buy, pay and have products delivered at all stages of the transaction. The same research highlights that the single biggest reason people choose to buy goods on the internet is simplicity.
With this in mind, here are 3 sales tools which improve simplicity and choice for your customers:
1. Klarna Checkout (payments)
2. Edi-Soft ShipAdvisor (freight / shipping)
3. Reponsive design (ensure your webshop functions on smartphones and tablets)
The second part of this article will be published next week.
Markus R Sæther is the Sales & Marketing Manager of VikingWeb, an Oslo based IT company with a total of 28 highly dedicated employees specializing in ecommerce solutions. VikingWeb AS was founded in 2011 and is today one of the leading suppliers of Magento solutions in Norway. Read more on their website or follow them on Facebook.