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14 eCommerce Experts Reveal How to Increase Online Sales

Look: If you want to increase online sales, there’s no one better to listen to than the top eCommerce experts.

Which is why we asked 14 of the world’s leading eCommerce gurus, including Steve Chou of My Wife Quit Her Job and Richard Lazzazzera of A Better Lemonade Stand, one simple question…

What is the first thing you look at on an online store to increase conversions?

Their answers are nothing short of amazing. In fact, three answers, in particular, were mentioned over and over:

  1. Make it extremely obvious why your product is better than your competition.
  2. Look at your analytics for obvious conversion leaks.
  3. Ensure your product photos and descriptions are amazing.

But these are just the beginning. You’ll have to read their answers to really increase online sales and improve your shop.

Customer retention is a major pain point for many of today’s ecommerce brands. Click here to download a list of Flawless Examples of Ecommerce Customer Retention in Action

14 eCommerce Gurus Reveal How to Increase Online Sales

Without further ado, I’ll let the experts take over:

1. Steve Chou | My Wife Quit Her Job

Steve Chou from My Wife Quit Her Job“The first thing that I look for in an ecommerce store is a strong value proposition.  Why should I shop here versus a competitor? I also look for a clear call to action above the fold. Every page should have exactly 1 objective and the exact offering should be obvious within the first 2 seconds.

You’d be surprised at how many shops do not fulfill these 3 requirements.”

2. Graham Charleton | Sale Cycle

Graham Charlton from Sale Cycle“I’d try out the buyer’s journey myself to find any obvious, low-hanging fruit. If forms are badly designed or the checkout has a lengthy registration process then these may be easy to improve

I’d also look into the analytics data to find any areas where the site is failing – looking at bounce rates and exit points for each step in the funnel, segmenting by user type, device etc to find areas for improvement.”

3. Roger Dooley | Author of Brainfluence

increase online sales“In my Persuasion Slide framework, friction is the element that slows down and often stops the customer before conversion.

In eCommerce, ease of completing the purchase is critical. The competition is often Amazon, who lets customers buy with a single click. A simple checkout process is crystal-clear and doesn’t have anything unnecessary. Extra effort items, like setting up an account and password, should be optional.”

4. Jonathan Payne | My Social Game Plan

Jonathan Payne“My take is people are too often taking the bells and whistles approach to eCommerce, instead of getting the foundation right. Meaning, they buy into the whole “you have to try this latest, greatest eCommerce tip to massively increase your sales!” philosophy.

I think there’s definitely a place for that approach — the A/B experimentation, testing exclusivity tactics like countdown timers and flash sales, creating loyalty programs, and all that fun stuff.

But many people jump straight to that step too soon. The very first things I look at are the copy, product photos, and difficulty of checking out. If you haven’t taken the time to optimize these foundational aspects of your online store, no amount of bells and whistles can save you.”

5. Michelle Nickolaisen | Bombchelle

Michelle from Bombchelle“The first thing I do in this situation is to examine the positioning of the products. Given my background (copywriting & content marketing), the first thing I look at is the site and product copy, but I also look at the product photos, any additional graphics/images
/photos used throughout the store, and the overall look and feel of the site.

Are new potential customers immediately oriented – do they know where they’re at, what’s for sale, why they’d buy it, and how much it costs?

It’s a broad top-level examination, but looking at things from this lens generally gives me a checklist of more specific things that can be tweaked and tested to improve conversion.

The other thing that comes to mind is that too many companies – whether SaaS or e-commerce or in another industry – put far too much focus on getting new customers, instead of retaining their existing customers.

Make sure that you’re not neglecting the post-purchase part of the buyer’s journey. This is another place where content can come in extremely handy – most people use it in the early stages of the buyer’s journey, but you can also use it as a way to onboard your new customers, make sure they understand the value of their new purchase and integrate it into their daily life, and turn them into loyal, returning purchasers.”

6. Richard Lazazzera | A Better Lemonade Stand

Richard Lazzazera“The first thing I look for when analyzing an eCommercee store is the product pages and the about page.

On the product pages, I’m looking for the usual suspects – captivating product descriptions, all the important details (size, weight, product specs), and gorgeous product photos.

For the about page, I’m looking for a story and trust factors that tell the customer ‘We’re dedicated at what we do and we strive to do it well’.”

Click here to find out more about how you increase conversions and engagement by adding customer photos using your products from social media to your product pages. 

7. Tracey Wallace | BigCommerce

Tracey Wallace of Big Commerce“The first thing I look at to optimize an online store for conversion are the product pages.

Product pages are equivalent to landing pages, and they need to tell a full story of the product, with detailed information, social proof, related products and anything someone might need to get them interested, excited and turn them into a buyer.

What are a few things that work? Videos, for one, which also boosts the page in terms of search.

Also, people want to glance and get as much info as possible. Use graphical representations for as many things as you can. Is it machine washable? Graphical representation. Is it a technical product that’s hard to understand? Break it down –– graphically.

SoloStove does this last one really, really well. BombTech Golf uses videos really, really well. And Kelty does all the above.”

8. William Harris | Elumynt

William Harris of Elumynt“I always start off at the high level. I get into Google Analytics and look at the eCommerce metrics. Then I look at the funnel, i.e. how many people came to the site, how many added something to the cart, how many completed their cart, what was the AOV, etc.

There’s no rocket science to the first stage – you just need to look at the story the analytics are telling you. Once you have that story mapped out, you can begin to see where the biggest problems are and start your work from there.

Last month we found a win for a client with a revenue lift of up to 268% on a test using this method.”

9. Kaleigh Moore | eCom Freelance Writer

Kaleigh Moore, Freelance WriterThe first thing I look at is the checkout process to see what can be pared down to make fewer steps/require less time.

10. Linda Bustos | eCommerce Illustrated

Linda Bustos of Edgacent“I have a detailed audit process I use to evaluate ecommerce sites that evaluates a site from home page through checkout. Within the review findings, I prioritize issues based on severity, validating my hypotheses with web analytics.

It’s very common thinking in CRO to just start with checkout, because users with carts are “closer to conversion.” But higher-funnel issues reduce the number of carts built and thus checkouts initiated, and can have a greater impact on revenue than optimizing for a smaller number of carts, depending on the severity. So I always start with reviewing the site end-to-end.

I find a lot of common mistakes on mobile that are good to rule out. For example, email capture pop-ups that span more than the width of the mobile screen to where the “close”/opt-out icons are not visible can skyrocket your bounce rates.

Many category menus (behind the hamburger link) require you to tap a + icon EXACTLY to activate the sub-category menu, else you’re taken directly to the parent-level category where subcategories are hidden behind Filter buttons, making it harder for shoppers to hone in on the products they’re trying to find.

On category pages, filter menus often auto-load a product set after each filter/attribute selection, rather than supporting multiple selections. And checkout sign-in gates (Guest and Returning Customer Sign In options) often present returning customer fields first, and Guest Checkout can slip below the ‘portrait fold.’

If it appears Guest Checkout isn’t offered, you risk losing new shoppers (and even returning customers who don’t remember their passwords).”

11. Aaron Orendorff | Shopify Plus & IconiContent

Aaron Orendorff“I look at the dropouts. I use Google Analytics Goals to set up funnels at least for (1) featured products on the homepage and (2) paid ads (especially PLAs). There’s nothing sacred about GA, other tools can be used as well.

The key is to find out where visitors are dropping out of the funnel. Normally, this reveals specific pages, which are often templated. Those pages become high priority for testing and optimization.”

12. Dylan Keenas | Bold Commerce

Dylan Keenas of Bold Commerce“The first thing I do is go through the site and consciously note down how much the site makes me think, or work harder than I have to to understand what you sell and how to buy it.

This leads into a broader UI/UX review that will uncover opportunities to make it easier for your customer to figure out what you sell, why they need it and how it will improve their lives, navigate/find the right product, add it to cart and check out.

13. Bryan Eisenberg | Author of Be Like Amazon

Bryan Eisenberg, author of Be Like Amazon“The first thing I look at is how the store communicates it’s UVP (unique value proposition) or UCP (unique campaign proposition).

What value do they communicate to their potential customers? How do they stand out from their competitors? What are they offering in their campaigns that make them the right choice to buy from?

This is part of what establishes the initial trust with their visitor as well. If they can’t communicate that clearly in the first 5-8 seconds, most visitors will bounce from their website.”

14. Edin Sabanovic | Objeqt

Edin Sabanovic of Objeqt“The first thing we look at is traffic analytics, with special attention to conversion funnel. Any problems with the buyer’s journey will first be demonstrated here in the form of buyers dropping out and not completing their purchase.

So, we look for the steps that have a large dropout rate, especially towards the bottom of the funnel, as these tend to be the lowest hanging fruits for optimization. To do this, we use reports such as goal flow, behavior flow, reverse goal flow, funnel visualization and enhanced eCommerce reports in Google Analytics.

Another thing we check initially is the reports that may indicate technical issues with the website. Broken links, bad code or incompatibility with popular browsers, devices or operating system tend to have an adverse effect on conversion and user experience. So spotting and eliminating these issues represents a sure way to increase conversions initially.”

Click here to download a list of Flawless Examples of Ecommerce Customer Retention in Action

That’s a wrap!

Wow, talk about amazing. If you want to increase online sales, any one of these answers will help you do it. Come back often for a refresher course if you need to!

A BIG thank you to all the experts who participated in making this post possible. You guys and gals are awesome!

If you thought these answers were helpful, please share the post so we can spread the wealth.

What are you going to do to increase your online sales after reading this? Which strategy resonated with you the most? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author

Bill Widmer is an eCommerce content marketing and SEO expert. His passion is helping business owners double or triple their income.
  • http://thereviewsolution.com/blog/aaron-kocourek/ Aaron Kocourek

    Great round up

    • Bill Widmer

      Thanks, Aaron! Lots of amazing insights, for sure.

  • https://antavo.com/blog/ Timi Garai

    Really nice roundup! I especially agree with Michelle Nickolaisen about how ecommerce owners should focus on retention instead of acquisition. On the long run, encouraging loyalty customers to spend again, can cost 6-7 times less than advertising to new ones.

    • Bill Widmer

      Agreed, Timi! I’d much rather have 100 highly loyal customers than 1,000 random new people. Not only is it more profitable – it’s more fun and fulfilling, too! 🙂

      We’re actually working on a piece about common ecommerce customer retention strategies that are actually hurting your retention. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that piece when it goes live!

  • http://www.osiaffiliate.com/ Tariehk @ osiaffiliate

    I like the advice from Edwin from Conversions