Online sales channels are a valuable strategy to reach more customers and increase sales revenue. In the UK, spending online continued to increase to reach a new record proportion of all retailing at 18.2% in July 2018 - Retail sales, Great Britain: July 2018. The UK ranks number one globally in proportion of online sales compared with total retail sales, with China a close second.
What can we extrapolate from this? I would suggest that the convenience, speed and price points of buying online are key drivers of online retail sales.
As much as there are anecdotal accounts of consumers lamenting the demise of the high street and the lack of good local shops, consumer behaviour quite clearly betrays such sentiment and is the reason online sales are increasing. When you can search for, find, buy and receive later that day, certain items through Amazon’s marketplace—and potentially much less expensive than it would have cost on the high street—it’s no wonder shopping habits are moving away from real-world stores.
It means there is a massive opportunity to shift from such traditional bricks and mortar shopping environments to selling online.
If you build it they won’t just come
It’s all very well to suggest the necessity of selling your products and services online and tapping into the continual migration of consumers buying this way. But in many ways, building and developing an e-commerce website, turning it ‘on’ and then expecting sales to suddenly go through the roof is a bit like building a shop in the middle of nowhere and expecting customers to come from far and wide to see and buy your products. You need a way of letting them know about your items before a sale can happen.
Online sales still involves marketing. Just as you need to market and advertise a bricks and mortar shop, you need to do so with your online store. There are various ways to do so and generally working on a combination of these methods brings the best result, which you can tweak and fine-tune based on the results you get.
SEO - Search Engine Optimisation
Any website that is created and made available for Google’s minions (or bots) to search has a better chance of being found in searches if the most applicable keywords and phrases are used through the various pages on the site.
There are certain conventions in the way different text elements such as headings should be used and the language that each contain, the number of characters and so on, which all contribute towards how effective the SEO of a website is.
Having an understanding of how best to write the text content of your e-commerce website is a crucial first step.
PCC - Pay Per Click Advertising
Just like with more traditional forms of paid advertising, there are various opportunities online to pay to display advertising content that links through to your website on other websites, such as Google. Targeting specific keywords and phrases so that when people search for those terms and Google displays your advert at the top of those searches can be an effective way to drive traffic to your site, where you know the users have searched for a term relating to your products or services.
Social media sites and platforms have a huge amount of data about us, from our personal information to the pages we like and friends’ posts we comment on. It allows them to build detailed and incredibly valuable user profiles of each of us. This information is useful to companies who want to pay to target certain customers based on different user metrics that the social media companies have available. So if you want to target a certain customer type and advertise your products to them on Facebook, you can. You can run split test adverts to see what works best to convert to sales.
Whatever you are doing currently; whether you are selling online or not, it's worth looking at what you need to do to make the most of the growth in e-commerce retail as more and more consumers shop and buy there.