Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

19 April 2016

5 ways to double your online sales with minimum investment

Commercial Photography by Bevan Cockerill-122
Photo credit: Bevan Cockerill

A few years ago, the European Commission described SMEs as “the lifeblood of Europe’s economy”, and with over 5 million SMEs in the UK their role here is ever growing. Generally the rise of the internet has made commerce both at home and abroad quicker and cheaper than ever before, but there remains a sizeable digital skills gap in the UK.

Whatever your industry, your company’s future success depends on your ability to make the most of the digital opportunity. As British businesses, you already have a relative head start in this connected world, but within the next decade the rest of the world is likely to be up to speed and, if we stop innovating now, others will overtake us.

To help small businesses keep pace, Google has recently launched a free digital learning platform called The Digital Garage which can help SMEs keep up-to-date with the knowledge they need to make the web work for them. Soon Google will deliver a webinar with the British Library Business & IP Centre to help learn how to reach new customers online. Tips include the best ways to use some cost-effective tools to maximise your sales potential; below are a few ways to meet and compete with this explosion of digital demand.

1. Setting up shop

Any successful e-commerce operation is based on navigability for your customer – just like a brick-and-mortar shop. Consider the last time you walked into a furniture shop: you probably didn’t walk in and just see a map of where to find the armchairs, but rather saw a nice sofa by the door you could sink into. You can do the same thing online, starting by promoting certain products right on your homepage or on search. Consider product merchandising: displaying very specific, featured products up front can help shift old inventory or feature best-selling items you want more customers to see.

2. Data-driven KYC

You may be a business leader, but remember you’re a consumer too. The last time you shopped online you were probably shown ‘recommended products’ after viewing certain items. As potential customers browse your site, you’re receiving data about their interests, and there are ways to increase sales potential by using this data to make predictions. Consider the furniture shop again – if you know your customer is looking for an oak desk, you can cross-sell by promoting related products, like matching bookcases, which they may not have even considered. Many shopping cart providers, such as Magento or Shopify, offer these product recommendation engines.

Commercial Photography by Bevan Cockerill-100
Photo credit: Bevan Cockerill

3. Optimise your customer experience to drive sales

In e-commerce, as with all aspects of your business, a process of continuous improvement is critical. You may learn through Google Analytics data that customers visit your site on mobile but rarely purchase – is this a clue that they cannot move smoothly through the payment process on mobile? One option is implementing ‘responsive design’ into your site, which adapts content to different screen size, or if you want to guarantee a more consistent shopping experience, create a dedicated mobile website. A recent whitepaper from Google called featuring ‘25 Principles of Mobile Site Design’ should help you drive conversions.

4. Utilising customer accounts

Investigate customer accounts to streamline their path-to-purchase. Once an online purchase is completed, by allowing customers to securely store shipping addresses, billing information and payment preferences in an account, you’re removing barriers for them and increasing your sales potential.

You can get more advanced too: use your customers’ past purchases, recent searches and recently viewed products to recommend specific items that might interest them. To use the furniture example again, if they have just bought a dining room table, you might recommend a set of chairs to match the design and wood finish.

5. Retargeting for e-commerce

Data around customer behaviour can be very useful information to your business by allowing you to create very specific advertisements aimed at people who have shown interest in certain products. This type of advertising is called retargeting. Let’s say, for example, that a customer looks at a kitchen table on your site but halfway through the checkout process they leave the website. Using retargeted ads you could automatically target that customer with an ad for that table at a 10% discount to remind them of the incomplete purchase or incentivise the purchase.

As with any advertising campaign, it’s important to measure and optimise the performance of your product retargeting campaigns over time. This means tracking conversion rates, testing new types of ads, tweaking your parameters, and using analytics to manage these campaigns.

Want to learn how more about how to be successful online? Register now for our upcoming webinar where Google will tell you what you need to know to reach more customers online. It’s free and you can take part from anywhere in the world.


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