Selling products online: how to do it successfully
A rapid increase in accessibility, ease of transaction, a vast range of products, personalised offers, absence of physical constraints makes online shopping highly attractive, for businesses and customers alike. Even though many of the same challenges as in physical commerce exist, selling online is not only very accessible, but a great opportunity to sell into a global market and grow your business – if you get it right.
Let’s take a brief look at 10 key metrics for measuring how to sell products online successfully.
1. Get your data right
eCommerce depends on data, pure and simple. So many sellers fall at the first hurdle for three simple reasons:
- They don’t have efficient processes in place to manage all the product data they ingest, process, enrich and distribute to sales channels.
- They rely on manual processing of incoming data as well as manual preparation of channel-ready information – mistakes inevitably occur
Different departments use different versions of product data, so no-one is ever sure which is the definitive (and best-quality) version
2. eCommerce platform
Constructing an attractive sales platform should not be a major issue, with the array of eCommerce platforms available, all with a lot of templates. You need the latest features and the capacity to display your products in an aesthetically pleasing way. A transparent and user-friendly product taxonomy is essential for customers to find the products they want easily, and to complete their purchase rapidly. Ease of navigation– how intuitive and efficient your product hierarchy and categories are to navigate – can be a game-changer.
Don’t forget to display price, shipping charges and order fulfilment time clearly – the cumulative effect is consumer trust and credibility for your brand.
Finally, ensure your sales channels work. no 404 errors, or your target consumer will be off to one of your competitors in the click of a button.
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3. Align the ecommerce solution with your business processes
It’s axiomatic that you need to build the product experience around your customers.
Your choice of technology matters but the foundation upon which you base that choice is your plan for how the solution fits into existing business processes. Start by knowing how you operate, your current challenges and where you want to get to, not about what technology you work with. This is how best to leverage that tech to achieve results.
4. Omnichannel shopping, omnichannel marketing
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What are you trying to fulfil? What do you expect from the eCommerce experience?
There are several ways of adopting a customer-centric mindset:
- combining your online and offline brand experience coherently and consistently across all touchpoints and across all devices and channels
- providing relevant, contextualised, and compelling content to your audience
- offering a personalised experience at an individual level
- exploiting social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Tik-Tok, all of whom have adopted marketplace positioning across multiple retail sectors
The most successful eCommerce operators are those who tap into customer behaviour and engage proactively.
5. Product Information Management
Content relies on unimpeachably correct product information. Whether you are B2C or D2C, a PIM tool is invaluable for controlling the processes and, importantly, quality of all your product data, from ingestion to post-purchase via a multitude of channels and touchpoints.
6. ‘Everyone has a stake’ - user buy-in
For product-centric companies adopting an ecommerce strategy, senior stakeholders often take centre stage. In fact, you should be keeping key teams in the loop from the very start. This encourages cross-functional buy-in and engenders a collaborative mindset from the start.
7. Teams and collaboration - consistent brand messaging
For businesses that sell a broad range of products, such as department stores, it’s often a challenge to guarantee consistent brand messaging. if several of those product ranges are conflicting or aren’t related to each other this is even more so.
That makes two areas critically important:
- Cross-functional team collaboration – in marketing, creative and content teams need to work in conjunction to develop consistent messaging using a single consistent version of product data
How you manage your product information – you need a unified approach, where every department is on the same page. To achieve this, selecting the right PIM solution provides a wide range of rules-based and automated tools to help teams better manage and exploit accurate and relevant product data of all types.
Relevant, personalised content for customers provides opportunities to boost sales. If you want to make a success of a personalisation strategy, you must know what your customers want.
Typical kinds of insights mined from customer behaviour metrics include:
- Average dwell time
- purchase types
- volume of returning customers
- How customers navigate the site or platform
- Most visited pages
- The types of content favoured by individual customers
This knowledge adds to what you already know about your customers, allowing you to create a truly personalised experience and enhanced product experience.
9. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Before customers buy anything from you, they have to find your products, so investing in developing a search-engine-friendly marketing strategy is essential, because it increases your chances of ranking highly in the search engine results. Smart development and use of SEO keywords, alongside use of enriched digital assets increases product information visibility in search engines.
10. ‘Gift-wrap’ your customer experience
Make the customer work simple: don’t make the customer confused about your product. Hence, display all the details in a well-defined way. multilingual support if you want to develop your business globally. Product taxonomy is an area to get absolutely right in order to make your site logical and intuitive for those visitors wanting to pinpoint the product they want.
Your end game is to minimise friction throughout the customer experience, so provide the key information customers need to make a purchase, such as;
- a robust product description
- persuasive copy highlighting product benefits
- the right positioning, pictures, video
- testimonials and reviews,
- details about payment, shipping, and delivery.
- how the product addresses customer pain points
- simple and intuitive purchasing process
Mobile eCommerce will turn over around £100 billion by 2024, with 78% of people having purchased something online with their mobile in the last two years. Therefore, your platform must be future-facing and accessible and supported on mobile devices. Again, product information is key, as it is a quite distinct experience in terms of screen real estate. Mobile users scan rather than reading, so CTAs assume more prominence, while low engagement elements are far less useful. Only use must-have content because mobile users, are notably less patient and do not have as much focus time as when sitting at home on their laptops.
First impressions count in eCommerce, so make sure the first ‘touchpoint’ with a new visitor (typically a landing page) is positive. Without face-to-face relationship-building, customer service is a challenge for eCommerce, but it’s also a sure-fire way to enhance their trust in and affiliation with your brand.
Save list, ‘Add to Cart’ and ‘Add to Wishlist,’ single page check-out for fast check-out. and multiple payment options, and third-party payment systems like PayPal, Apple wallet or Google Pay.
Information replaces human contact
Customers shouldn’t need to speak to an actual sales assistant if you are providing them with the right information. In fact, in many retail cases, accessing that information online is a far superior method than listening to a person and then trying in vain to remember everything they told you. But we expect eCommerce web content, customer service bots and social media feeds to sound conversational, rather than like a robot. So, if you are leveraging your data management adroitly, you are applying enriched content like videos, visuals, and useful documentation alongside well-written attractive and persuasive copy content. Using PIM power to optimise all the content across all conceivable channels creates a scalable basis for a powerful and positive eCommerce experience.
eCommerce is evolving rapidly, so you want to be future-proofing your strategies – both customer-facing and internally. Retailers and manufacturers will waste a lot of time, money, and opportunities by not adopting a stringent, versatile, and flexible approach to product information management.
Whether you need help devising a winning strategy, selecting or implementing the right platforms to meet your business goals, or need help managing your product information and systems on an ongoing basis—we’ve got you covered.
Contact us to have a more in-depth conversation about how we can help you grow and enhance your eCommerce offer.
Ready to take the next step in your product data journey?
For retailers and distributors
We have a highly experienced team of PIM consultants ready to transform your product information challenges into business benefits – Ben Adams, CEO
For brands and manufacturers
We can your business compete and thrive on the digital shelf – Beth Parker, Lead Consultant