There are so many things you can do to make selling online much more successful for your business. Read on and we will explain seven of the most common mistakes businesses make with online sales.
If you even change one thing, you might find your sales figures improving overnight!
E-commerce in the UK
The UK is one of the most important places in the world for e-commerce
. In 2015, the UK was estimated as having the third largest e-commerce market in the world, with the value of UK e-commerce sales in the same year being estimated as 533 billion UK pounds sterling.
These trends are also reflected in global markets, where e-commerce sales are expanding exponentially. In 2017, net sales from the UK’s largest retailers added up to 80 billion US dollars.
These figures pose some every important questions about e-commerce in general, with one of the most common questions being “what is my business doing wrong, when it comes to e-commerce?”.
1. Failing to use social media to monitor competitors
Social media is one of the richest sources of information on what competitors are doing and as such, businesses need to monitor competitor social media regularly.
When businesses monitor their competitors on social media, they can gain valuable information on competitors pricing and pricing strategy. This information can then be used to help shape better sales, promotional and pricing strategy.
2. Failing to devise appropriate social media advertising campaigns
Social media is a great way to engage with prospective customers and increase brand recognition and product sales. Indeed, social media following is increasingly becoming one of the measures used to show how valuable a brand is.
To put this into context, it helps to consider some of the most followed brands on certain social media sites and see what the numbers of followers actually are.
Take Instagram as an example. National Geographic is one of the brands that has the largest Instagram following. As of May 2017, it has 70 million followers. When it posts pictures on Instagram, the brand regularly achieves in excess of 100k likes and shares within a few days.
Other successful brands
with huge followings on Instagram include Nike, which has just under 70 million followers and victoriassecret which has approximately 50 million followers.
These brands don’t achieve these gargantuan levels of interest by accident. Rather, they pour time and resources into creating campaigns that are appealing to their customers and prospective customers. This, in turn generates interest among their social media following, and their posts get shared and commented on. Every share and comment brings the brand into contact with hundreds, even thousands of people active on social media, who may decide to follow the brand for themselves, to see more of the same in terms of posts and content. Businesses interested in increasing their social media presence and following and the sales that go hand in hand with that process need to do the same thing.
Every social media advertising campaign is different, but to create one that will increase sales you must create content (whether in the form or blogs, videos or ads) that is of interest to the customer base. For makeup manufacturers this can be a video that explains how to use a given product. For brands like Nike, it can be a professionally crafted photo showing their products being worn by top athletes. The key is to be original and showcase how your product can benefit a prospective buyer.
In terms of devising appropriate social media campaigns, there are some pitfalls that businesses need to be aware of. A clumsily crafted social media campaign can attract negative comments and attention. Dove, which sells personal care products had a massive social media “fail” recently by showing a black woman, who is transformed into a white person, supposedly by using Dove products
. The campaign attracted a massive backlash online and received much negative attention, mainly because it was branded as racist.
3. A failure to price monitor competitors
Pricing is the key driver of sales. It does not matter how well made your products are, or how many celebrities are using them - if the product is being sold more cheaply elsewhere, you need to know this so you can adjust your own pricing, or else you face an immediate decrease in your sales and profits.
You can monitor competitor pricing by investing in competitor monitoring software, which is widely available and an essential investment.
4. A failure to monitor competitor promotions and competitor stock and inventory
Promotions monitoring is another key aspect of competitor monitoring. It does not matter how good, or useful your products are – if your competitor is advertising a code which consumers can use to reduce the overall price at the checkout by 20%, you need to know about this fast, or else it can spell a fall in your profits.
Additionally, monitoring competitor stock and inventory gives you insights that can create massive opportunities for you as a business.
Imagine your main competitor has been out of stock on a certain product for one week. This allows you to deduce that there may be a greater influx of prospective buyers on your site. You may wish to take advantage of this by raising your prices slightly, seeing as the better price advertised on your competitor’s site is not “real” because they can’t actually deliver the product at that price because it is out of stock.
5. Failure to properly evaluate social media campaigns
Social media campaigns are a very important aspect of online marketing and successful e-commerce, but social media campaigns can be hugely problematic. As we have seen explained above, campaigns can be problematic if they attract negative attention on social media.
Another way for a social media campaign to “fail” is where it costs a large sum of money to execute a strategy, which then fails to garner the attention, response or result that was expected, and ends up just labeled as a “waste of money”.
Lots of people approach social media campaigns, without properly evaluating the campaigns, and this approach can create campaigns that are expensive and wasteful because they do not achieve the results that the creators expected.
A campaign should be evaluated before it is even distributed. Its creator needs to plan what they want the campaign to achieve and then actually test whether it has achieved the results that were anticipated, within a reasonable time scale.
This gives the creator the chance to honestly evaluate whether the expenditure on the campaign is justified, and also gives them the chance to see what works and what doesn’t work for the particular business. For example, there is no point paying to make a series of “howto” videos featuring products, if the first video in a planned series failed to garner any response in terms of likes, shares or sales linked to its dissemination. The evaluation process gives the business the chance to discontinue the series before it gets completed.
Some simple examples of properly evaluated campaigns can be linked to increased brand recognition, for example: “I will post an informative blog article which shows how my product works and I want to see that it has been liked, or shared 100 times within a six week period”.
Campaigns can also be linked to sales targets, for example “I will post a “howto” video which costs 100 GBP to make, and within 6 weeks I want to see an increase in the overall sales of the product featured”.
Campaigns that are featured in “paid for” ads, for example on Facebook are particularly vulnerable to a failure to evaluate. These campaigns need to be tightly regulated, or they can end up costing far more to make and disseminate then they generate in value for the creator.
6. Failure to retarget website visitors
Retargeting website visitors
is a cookie-based technology that allows you to follow prospective customers on the wider internet. The technology feeds visitors who have left your site without buying, targeted ads to remind them of your products they may have been previously interested in, but left the site without making a purchase.
7. Failure to create an effective purchase funnel
If you are selling products online, you need to make it easy for buyers to actually buy your products online. A common mistake, for example, is forcing buyers to give detailed information on themselves, or requiring them to complete a complex registration process, before they can actually make a purchase. Many successful e-commerce retailers give customers a “quick check out” option where they can complete a fuss free purchase in just a few seconds.
Don’t make e-commerce mistakes!
This article gives a basis overview of some of the things you can do to make your business more successful at online selling.
Selling online requires some attention to detail and investment of time. It isn’t rocket science though, and any business, however small, has the potential to create better online sales by adopting the simple strategies discussed in this article.