14 Foolproof Tactics for any Business to Increase Online Sales
How to increase online sales for your business in 2023. Read our list of the top 14 tactics to boost online sales.
Have you noticed your online sales aren't growing as intended in 2023? Maybe you've plateaued, failed to reach sales goals, or even seen a drop in sales. First of all, let us reassure you that it's not just you. Unfortunately for the first time ever, the global forecast for ecommerce sales is bleak-showing that we'll end 2022 with $95 billion less in sales than in 2021.
You may have already noticed a dip in your own numbers and are wondering why. Well, there are a few reasons that ecommerce sales are currently shrinking. In order to change up strategy and overcome challenges as best you can, it's smart to get an understanding of the causes behind 2022's disappointing sales numbers, both on a micro and macro level. Some of these are beyond your control, and some are not. But either way-they are definitely worth considering when planning your customer experience strategy for 2023 and beyond.
Here's a round-up of 10 top reasons ecommerce sales are dropping:
Does it just seem like there are more choices for consumers than ever in the ecommerce market? That's probably because there are. Despite the upcoming forecast just referenced, online sales were doing astronomically better than ever before during the pandemic. The lack of ability to shop in person forced many companies to figure out how to sell online. So, industries that may never have previously offered ecommerce, and even smaller businesses that only serve local markets, got in on the action-increasing competition all around. Add to that a surge in entrepreneurs that have found ecommerce that much more accessible thanks to the likes of user-friendly platforms like Shopify and Wix. From traditional B2C to B2B, almost everyone is selling their goods and services online.
This one is a biggie. Product and agricultural shortages, high prices of important raw materials, and problems with manufacturing and shipping (plus a giant container ship was stuck in the Suez Canal for six days). Trade agreements, red tape and politics. All of these play a major factor in ecommerce companies being able to get their products into the hands of customers in a timely manner-if at all. Many ecommerce startups have been reporting that having so many elements outside of their control is a major challenge to hit the ground running. The best you can do? Take this into consideration when making contingency plans. Order earlier, order more, and diversify your manufacturing partners.
Due to a 41-year high inflation rate, everything is more expensive. This not only impacts businesses' own expenses, but majorly impacts consumer behavior. When everything from groceries to gas to leisure expenses is up, people spend less on non-essential items. Higher expenses also mean that a lot of industries need to increase their prices to keep reasonable margins. This impacts price-sensitive shoppers who may choose to go elsewhere or eliminate a certain purchase altogether.
This paired with an impending recession in 2023 means that people are spending less, either to bolster their savings or to just pay the bills.
It has been projected by the Federal Reserve that unemployment in the US will rise to 4.4% in 2023, up from the current 3.5%. This is more bad news for retailers who want to see the economy bounce back, unemployment rates drop, and have people earning enough to have disposable income to spend. It goes without saying that people without employment spend less money.
Is certain technology actually holding back retailers from supporting customers and making sales? Some reports claim that traditional ecommerce tech is maxed out. The tech stacks that worked for years are no longer enough to meet consumer expectations. This is an interesting conundrum. On one hand, ecommerce brands loved the enormous boom in business since early 2020, but on the other-more online shoppers means a responsibility to keep up, innovate, and keep customers happy by offering an advanced online customer experience.
The numbers don't lie-while ecommerce is experiencing a dip, in-store shopping is showing growth. It's hard to ignore news that shares of online-only brands like Etsy, Shopify, Wayfair, and Poshmark are falling, plus a report by Mastercard in spring 2022 that ecommerce transactions were down 1.8% compared to one year earlier, while in-store sales were up 10%. According to CNBC around that same time "Amazon set the tone for waning momentum and downbeat outlooks. The company logged the slowest revenue growth since the dot-com bust in 2001 and issued a bleak forecast."
Increased in-person shopping is sure to have an impact on ecommerce brands. Retailers looking to gain a competitive advantage would be wise to combine two strategies. If you're typically exclusively an online brand, maybe think about holding in-person pop-ups at various locations, if you're a physical store also offering online shopping, find a way to offer more personalized customer support in order to increase online sales. One key idea: Live video co-shopping that leverages in-store staff (or dedicated live shopping associates working from home or a studio) to provide personalized styling and support to online shoppers.
It's great getting people to your website, but how helpful are you in guiding them to make a purchase? Take a closer look at your KPIs to gain some insight into where you could strengthen your customer support. Certain indicators like conversion rate, AOV, and cart abandonment can help you make a game plan on where to improve your customer experience strategy.
Keep in mind customer support isn't exclusively about interacting with a support channel. It can also be just providing more information - user-generated content, videos, product comparisons, buying guides, and more can all be useful tools in supporting customers.
Digital advertising through channels like Google Ads and social media isn't what it used to be. More specifically, it isn't as affordable as it used to be, meaning that Facebook ad or Google Shopping ad you had running on autopilot almost certainly isn't delivering the same ROI. The big spike in the number of companies selling online led to an increased demand for advertising online, which in turn, made prices to advertise in these spaces more expensive.
In fact, Global Banking & Finance Review reported that: "The price of cost-per-click ads on Facebook rose by 58% in November 2020 compared to January of the same year." And while the costs do fluctuate, that was the highest growth ever recorded. Interestingly, this decline in ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) has also led many brands to abandon their social advertising strategies altogether - a pain point that's showing up on the balance sheets of advertising giants like Google and Meta.
It's also worth noting that Google's move to eliminate third-party cookies has put a crimp in many advertising / marketing strategy plans for 2023. Merchants are having to work harder than ever to craft their ideal buyer persona and find creative ways, like search engine optimization or influencer partnerships, to get in front of those shoppers, build brand awareness, and drive more website traffic.
Let's take a look at your content strategy beyond your site. Is your social media platform content focused on sell-sell-sell, all the time? Do you ever offer educational resources, behind-the-scenes experiences in a social or blog post, product demos, or maybe even Q&A sessions? Social media is a two-way street so engaging with your target audience in a meaningful way is a must in order to get them to make that purchase on your ecommerce store.
Meet your customers where they like to spend time online-have you looked into Instagram Live Shopping, for example? Or any other live shopping channels? Not everyone shops the same way online-don't make customers do all the work.
Free returns cost retailers millions. On top of that, they have an enormous carbon footprint. If you've already decided that you're done absorbing that cost, to your business and the planet-congratulations, you're ahead of the curve. But it may be costing you sales right now. Until the rest of the industry catches up, you're at a disadvantage, and your sales numbers could reflect that. Free returns are still highly valued by customers and can even make or break their purchase decisions.
The good news on this front is that it seems retailers as a whole may be deciding to do away with offering free returns as the norm. Looking at online store trends for 2023, and you'll see many retailers have already shortened the return window, and the percentage of those charging for returns has doubled over the last year.
If you're looking to guidance on how to increase online sales there are a few effective strategies no matter whether you're a small business that's just getting started or an established business looking to mine untapped potential. We recommend focusing on the following goals in order to increase online sales for your business:
In order to achieve these goals, you need to use a combination of tactics and tools. Depending on your customers, product, the buyer's journey and other factors, some of these strategies may work better than others. Some may not be a fit at all. Weigh all your options for how to increase online sales with an open mind and consider what makes sense for your business.
One-on-one live video shopping solutions match up customers with live shopping sales associates, whether they're working in a store or operating from home, a studio space, or customer service, making for a more humanized online shopping experience.
Live video shopping apps allow online customers to browse your product catalog more intimately, get live access to the retail space (if applicable), get virtual "hands-on" experiences with the products, ask questions in real-time, get customer support if needed, and be carefully guided throughout the shopping journey.
Example: GhostRetail clients have reported metrics of 12x the standard conversion rates and 40% lift in AOV. Live shopping associates can send products over to a customer, including the specific variants they may want, and even add them to the cart. This makes for a more personalized online shopping experience that ultimately drives bigget basket sizes.
Live streaming software is a program or app that allows users to broadcast live video content to viewers. These livestream events can either be hosted on a retailer's website through white label software, or may be broadcast through a social commerce channel like Instagram Live TikTok Live. Learn more about social commerce here.
The 1:many format can be super helpful for brands looking to generate top of funnel awareness, by adding a live element to events like product launches and product demos. Livestream shopping ultimately helps brands connect with their audience and, depending on the solution, make sales directly from the live broadcast video. Check out our guide to the best livestreaming apps.
Note that according to a survey by Statista, 16% of shoppers feel like they don't have enough information from a livestream event to make a purchasing decision - topics like return policies and shipping often aren't covered. To help take top of funnel awareness to conversion, considering inviting 1:many social media livestream attendees to join a 1:1 live shopping call for personalized support.
This one is a no-brainer, but many brands can lose sight of how to build customer trust when aiming to drive more online sales. Simple actions like keeping your website up-to-date, blog or social content fresh and relevant, never spamming with email marketing or over-selling to potential customers, or offering money-back guarantees can help build up trust. Another tactic you often see is having team / founder bios with photographs on the website to put faces and names to the brand they are supporting. Finally, make sure you offer solid customer service - whether it's on-demand live chat or video calls, or clearly outlined phone numbers / emails where shoppers can get support when they need it.
You'll often see personalized product recommendations on ecommerce websites and this is a fantastic example of how cross-selling can boost AOV. Other tactics include discounted bundles, free shipping (or other promotion) spending threshold offers, and post-purchase cross-selling emails. All of these are effective ways to encourage shoppers to spend more and grow online sales - provided they're serving up relevant, tailored offers to the consumer.
There's a way to sell more to your shoppers, even if a website visitor only stops by once. The answer is simple: Subscriptions. Offering subscriptions is an ingenious way to generate revenue on autopilot, while offering loyal customers products they love without ever worrying about running out. Pro tip: If you're going to offer subscriptions, you'll likely want to offer some sort of incentive, like a gift with purchase, or a recurring discount (think of Amazon's Subscribe & Save model).
An amazing example of a subscription-based retail brand is MeUndies. This underwear and loungewear brand entices customers to sign up for monthly subscriptions by offering discounted prices (30% off!) compared to one-off purchases. They keep the patterns fun, fresh, and pop-culture-relevant in order to retain subscription-based customers, plus offer incentives like members-only offers.
Ah, the coveted first-time purchase offer. We've all seen it, we've all used it. Typically in the style of a pop-up window when a customer first visits a website, this offers a promotional code good for your first purchase, when you provide your email address. (Perfect for getting customers signed up for ongoing e-blasts.) Hey-it works.
Offering a bonus item as a free gift can be a very effective way to get customers to make a purchase. Be strategic with the free gift. If you can, make it a small item that could become an essential-like lip gloss, socks, or branded hand sanitizer. Around the holidays, make it something that could be used as a stocking stuffer. Alternatively, consider using a gift with purchase incentive as a way to reward loyal customers. When your top customers hit a certain spending threshold, send them gifts of increasing value as a way to 'gamify' the online shopping experience.
An online sale that follows the traditional promotional calendar may not make sense for your business. Stay true to your brand and serve customers well by creating authentic promotions and digital marketing strategies that build loyalty. To use an example, Deciem is a beauty brand that bills itself as the 'Abnormal Beauty Company', and is known for their transparent, stunningly low pricing compared to beauty industry leaders. For several years, in the leadup to the holidays, Deciem has shirked the typical 'Black Friday' holiday promotional rush. Instead, they've launched a 'Shop Slow' campaign where they offer their entire product line at a 23% discount for the entire month. This aligns with Deciem's values of doing things differently and not deploying manipulative consumer behavior tactics. When planning promotions, think about your brand and what makes sense for you, and your customers.
There are many reasons why carts get abandoned, and sometimes online shoppers just need the tiniest push to pull the trigger on a purchase. Maybe they ran out of time, maybe they got distracted by something else, or maybe the price point was just a little too high. Sending them a gentle reminder with a limited-time discount on that item might be just what they need to hit checkout.
One of the easiest strategies for increasing sales is to sell more to your existing customer base. Specifically, your top customers that are either delivering a higher than average sales volume, or any loyal customer that spends more on average, period. There are plenty of stats about how it's way easier (and cheaper) to retain current customers than it is to acquire a new customer. Reward customer loyalty by offering either a full-scale loyalty program, or by extending exclusive perks to your top loyal customer base. These customer experience enhancements could include special discounts, early access to product drops, or even products that can only be purchased by
When you can't quite figure out what's working and what isn't-do some A/B testing. Only through testing different graphics, images, colors, wording and more can you find out what resonates best with your online audience. Maybe your CTA needs to get changed, or perhaps your headlines could be stronger. Set up experiments with a specific hypothesis and timeline, and track the results in Google Analytics or the business intelligence (BI) tool of your choice. Play around to get those offers and sales conversion metrics where they need to be.
Online shoppers want to read real reviews and customer testimonials and see user-generated content (UGC) about a product on every product page. It's through this kind of social proof content that you can prove your brand and your product are worth the money. Showing them the "receipts" is a great way to build ongoing trust and loyalty. Pro tip: Take things up a level by tapping into associate-generated content (AGC).
Fact: No one payment method fits all. There are more ways than ever for shoppers to check out, including virtual wallets like ShopPay, payment platforms like PayPal, buy now pay later services like Affirm, and of course, more traditional methods like credit cards. That's not to mention edge cases like gift cards or even payment by money transfer or cryptocurrency. The simple truth is an ideal customer experience has to include more ways to pay, or risk having a shopper abandon your ecommerce store experience altogether.
At first glance, most brands are hesitant to dig into a niche - after all, appealing to more people equals a bigger audience to drive more sales. In theory. But in actuality, some of the most successful brands are the ones that have a core niche audience. Maybe they really align with your value prop, or perhaps their lifestyle aligns with the image you project. The more specific details your customer base has to grab onto, the more likely they are to become ardent fans. Treat your core existing customers like gold and the rest will follow on a tidal wave of good reviews and positive vibes.
When you have a chance-look at your website through the lens of a consumer and ask yourself where there's friction in the user experience. Making purchasing and customer service as easy as possible is always a great place to start when looking at how to increase online sales. From there, consider some of the tools and tactics we just outlined above and ask how they could make the buying journey go more smoothly.
If you're curious about offering live video co-shopping for your customers connect with GhostRetail today and we'll show you what it's all about. Video co-shopping with GhostRetail makes it easy to connect customers with real, live, in-store salespeople who know the products and can help shoppers make meaningful purchases. It helps shoppers through conversion stumbling blocks, increasing sales and boosting brand loyalty.
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