So you’ve managed to set yourself up with an online store. But how do you ensure it’s in the best possible shape to generate sales?

It’s all well and good to have an online store but with so many businesses now getting online, just having a “good enough” online store is not good enough. It’s vital that you build something that firstly resonates with your target customer, showcases your amazing products and entices people to pull out their wallets and purchase from you.

So to help you get started, we’ve put together this list with 20 ways to optimise your online store for sales.

Whether your store is hosted on Shopify, WooCommerce or even Squarespace – you’ll find a whole lot of handy tips and advice to take your business to the next level.

(Note: this post was first written in 2020 – we’ve since made a fair few updates throughout to reflect new and emerging trends in digital marketing, eCommerce and technology).

1. Set up Facebook and Instagram shopping/product tagging

Your goal should be to give people as many “doorways” to your online store as possible, and setting up Facebook and Instagram shopping helps with this. You can tag products in your posts & stories and make it super easy for social media followers to purchase from you without having to find their way to your website.

Talk about good customer service!

2022 Update: If you have a Shopify store, you can also advertise your products via TikTok, making it even easier to create greater brand awareness of your products and opening your business up to a whole new market (there are currently over 800 million active users on TikTok). Check out this link for more info.

2. Use high quality imagery

A picture paints a thousand words so make sure your photos put your products in the best light possible. We recommend using a combination of plain product shots (i.e. a photo of your product on its own) along with lifestyle shots of your products actually in use.

At the same time, make sure your images are optimised for web so that they don’t slow down your website’s loading time. Our  favourite image compression tool is Image Compressor. If you can keep each individual image under 400kb, this will go a long way in creating a user friendly (and search friendly) website.

3. Set-up an email list and give people an incentive to subscribe to it.

Set up an email subscription list that people can sign up to.

We encourage you not to use a pop-up form, people can find them annoying (especially on mobile) and they can distract the customer from their task or goal. If you do insist on having a pop-up, we suggest a small pop-up box that appears in the bottom corner of your website where it’s least distracting or not having pop-ups show up the moment someone lands on your website.

We recommend having a sign-up email form in various locations on your website such as on your home page, in your footer and maybe on your product pages. Also make sure to add a checkbox at checkout to give people the option to sign up to your email list. The same goes for your contact form.

Where possible provide a small incentive for people to sign up to your list. It could be a small discount. Or it could be the first to have access to new products and offerings. Or to have access to VIP offerings that aren’t made publicly available.

What email marketing platform should you use? We highly recommend Klaviyo for its ease of integration and ability to create truly personalized experiences and segment customer data.

4. Have a notifications sign-up form for out-of-stock products

Make sure to keep people’s interest in any of your out-of-stock products. If a product is out of stock, display a form that captures a person’s name and email address as well as the product they’re interested in. When the product is back in stock, you can send people a notification that the product is available again for purchase.

5. Provide video demonstrations of your products

Along with photos on your product pages, use video to demonstrate your product in use. Video is a great way to help a person imagine using the product in their life. 

6. Provide add-ons at checkout

For example, give people the option to have their order sent to someone else as a gift and provide add-ons for a few extra dollars such as gift wrapping or a greeting card (you could collaborate with a local designer who produces greeting cards).

Or display complimentary products that someone could purchase (based on the products already in their cart). For example if someone has added a tube of paint to their cart, display complimentary products they could also purchase such as paintbrushes).

7. Enable reviews on your product pages.

Reviews are social proof that your products are worth paying money for and help provide a greater level of trust in your brand. Make sure to allow people  to leave reviews on your product pages. Even if you don’t get a perfect review from someone, don’t take this as a bad thing. See this as an opportunity to give your brand a good name but giving a diplomatic response that makes it clear what you will do for the customer to rectify things.

8. Combine your cart and checkout pages

Depending on your website/eCommerce provider this may or may not be simple enough to do but if possible try and see if you can combined your cart and checkout pages. The easier you can make it for people to checkout and pay you the better.

Try and only get the vital information from your customer during the checkout process too – don’t make them fill out lengthy forms, this can be off-putting and may cause people to abandon their carts.

9. Offer flat rate and free shipping options

Only if it’s financially viable for you to do so, consider offering a lower flat rate for all orders or free shipping for orders over a set amount.

If need be, increase the prices of your products to make up for any costs.

People see low flat rates and free shipping options as incentives to buy from you. For example, someone is more likely to purchase from you if their order costs $29.00 with free shipping as opposed to paying $20 for the order and $9 for shipping (even though the totals are the same for both scenarios – humans are funny like that).

Make it clear throughout the website what your shipping options are – consider using a banner that sits at the top of the website as well as displaying shipping options on each product page.

10. Set up a blog and publish posts on topics relevant to your niche.

Blogs are great for your website’s SEO especially if the content is of a decent quality and is relevant to your niche and what your ideal customer is interested in.

Blogs are also a great way to demonstrate your expertise and why people should buy from you.

And don’t limit yourself to just writing posts that promote your products. Think outside the square a little.

If you sell children’s wear, write blog posts that your target customer would be interested in reading. Some examples:

  • 5 Ideas for fun rainy day activities with your toddler (not related to children’s wear, but still something a parent will be interested in).
  • 3 top tips for getting stains out of your children’s clothes.
  • Outfit inspiration for your bub.

You could even get guests from complimentary niches to write content for you such as a children’s nutritionist, a cloth nappy business owner or an early childhood educator.

If your blog post is related to a particular product that you sell, be sure to link through to that product on your post.

11. Speed up your website

Every second counts so aim to make your website as fast as possible. Not only is it good for customers but it’s all good for your search engine ranking.

You can run your website through a speed test using tools such as Pingdom.

Some ways to keep your website speedy?

  • Optimise your images and reduce your image sizes as much as possible (an image size under 400 KB is ideal). As mentioned in Tip #2, we recommend using a compression tool such as Image Resizer to reduce the size of your images without compromising on quality.
  • If you have a WordPress website, try and minimize the number of plugins you have installed. Take a look through your website and identify any plugins you no longer need and say adios to them!
  • For WordPress websites, use a caching or performance optimization plugin which will give you a whole lot of options to help optimize your website.

Have you applied these changes but still haven’t noticed huge differences? It may be your web hosting. Get in touch with your web host to discuss ways to speed things up or consider moving to another web host.

12. Make it easy to find your shipping/returns policy.

Transparency and trust in your brand is important. Make it easy for customers to find your shipping/returns policy. We suggest providing a link to these on each of your product pages, along with a link in your website footer. If you have an FAQ page, be sure to address any potential questions around shippings and returns here as well.

13. Provide easy-to-access customer support

Often you’ll come across customers who may have a few questions for you before they buy. Make it easy for them to get in touch with you with any queries. Make it super easy for them to find your contact details (supply both an email contact form and a phone number). You could even consider adding a chatbot to help people answer those frequently asked questions and refer them to a page or a person for further assistance.

And set-up an FAQ page – this is such a simple way to help answer people’s questions. If you ever get an email with a question that’s answered in your FAQ page, you can simply refer them to this page. When writing the content for this page, think about questions you get asked the most (you may need to trawl through your emails and DMs to collate these or recall conversations you’ve had with customers over the phone).

14. Add augmented reality to the customer experience

Especially in these times of social isoation, giving people the ability to “try” your products without leaving the home could really take your brand to the next level.

For example, Sephora has an app that lets you “try” their make-up on your face (without actually putting make-up on your face).

Think of ways you could provide a virtual experience and let customers try your products. If you sell homewares, maybe you could provide a way for people to try your items in their home to see how they work with the rest of your posessions.

15. Make it easy for people to get to your shop pages

Ensure you have links through to your shop pages in various parts of the website – people behave in different ways. One person may prefer scrolling down your home page before checking out your products. Another person may happily jump straight to browsing your products.

Places where you should have a Shop link or button displayed:

  • Top navigation bar.
  • Footer navigation.
  • Shop button on your home hero banner.
  • Section on your home page displaying your product categories with a button to your shop.
  • As a “Shop Now” button at the end of your information pages (such as the “About” page).

16. Make sure your website is mobile friendly.

With Google prioritising how your website looks and functions on mobile over desktop, it’s vital more than ever to make sure your website is mobile friendly.

Test your website and make sure it works well and is easy to use on mobile and tablet. In particular, test the purchasing process on mobile.

Check that page elements are laid out nicely and that text is easy to read against background images.

Make sure text isn’t squashing up or breaking up over multiple lines or that it isn’t too small to read.

Make sure links and buttons are large enough to press on and that images are not sized too small.

And be sure to test on a wide range of devices. It’s not enough to just test on an iPhone X and assume that the website works fine for all mobile users. It could be worth looking at your analytics and seeing what devices people mainly use to browse your website and running vigorous testing on these specific devices.

17. Make your content clear and easy to read

It’s vital that your website content is clear, succinct and helps people go down a path of conversion.

To achieve this, here’s a few things you can do:

  • Avoid cluttering your pages with too much content and images. Each page should have its own purpose. So if you have a whole lot of services, don’t stuff information about them all on one page. Instead, have a little snippet introducing each snippet with a “Read more” button that people can click through to go to another page with more info about that service.
  • Use good amounts of white space around your content. White space refers to empty space surrounding your content.
  • Break up content with different formats such as numbered lists, bullet point list, divider lines between sections and images (with captions underneath). This helps people scan and read your content more easily and find the information they are after.

18. Provide detailed specifications and directions for using your products.

The more details you can provide about your products and how to use them, the more likely someone will be to purchase them.

Some examples of details to provide:

  • Size charts – people aren’t able to try your products on, so provide them with measurements so they can choose the correct size and not have to worry about returning their purchases.
  • Measurements and weight – this helps people give an idea of whether your products will fit in their space or whether something like a bag will be large or small enough for them.
  • Directions on how to use your product – this is useful for products such as skincare where a person needs to know when to use it or what other products to use something with for best results.
  • Technical specifications – if you’re selling electronic goods then it’s vital to provide technical sepcifications.
  • Ingredients – if you sell food products, skincare or makeup then be sure to list the ingredients. If your item is gluten-free, vegan/vegetarian or dairy free, be sure to make this clear on your product pages.

19. Build your community with members-only content and products

A great way to really build your community and your brand is to provide members-only content and access to exclusive products and deals.

Set-up a membership offering where people pay a monthly or annual fee to get “VIP” access to products or discount codes not available to the wider public.

Set up a regular email newsletter for this specific group with exclusive content not shared on your website or to your general email subscribers.

20. Sell to an international audience? Enable multicurrency on your website.

If you sell to an international audience or plan to do so, we highly recommend you enable multicurrency on your website.

Whether that’s going as simple as just letting people view your prices in their currency or actually going all out and accepting payments in other currencies, setting this up on your website will help lessen confusion for customers.

Which currencies should you enable on your website (besides your local currency)? US dollars is a currency widely used as is Great British Pound and Euros. Be sure to check your website analytics to see where your visitors predominantly come from and let them view prices/purchase in their native currencies.

We hope this list gives you a good starting point to working on your website and optimising it for more traffic and sales. As you can see, there is SO much you can do to ensure your website is in tip-top shape for selling.

With so many businesses now going online, it’s vital that you do what you can to build a website that’s trust worthy, engaging and super easy to use and we are fully confident that the tips in this blog post will help you out with this.

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