You have worked hard to create some great new products, and you are eager to begin selling online. You put them up on your website or on another ecommerce site, sit back, and wait for the sales to roll in.
A week goes by, and your sales reports continue to show the same result every day: $0.00. All your enthusiasm leaks out of you like air from a deflating balloon. What has gone wrong?
For most people in this scenario, their first thought is that their prices are too high. While that is true for some, it is actually very rare that high price is the reason that customers are not buying. High price only accounts for 17% of lost sales, according to research. Indeed, sometimes low prices can scare off customers just as easily.
If you are struggling to sell products online, here are 7 other potential reasons for you to investigate.
Your Checkout Process Needs Work
Many companies/institutions have done research to determine why someone would put items in their cart in an online store but then abandon it. The #1 reason they find repeatedly is because customers face unexpected fees when they actually go to make the purchase, such as shipping/handling fees, taxes, etc.
Given this, what can you do to help your customer when selling online? For one, you could offer free shipping or otherwise reduce fees. (See Item #2 in our previous blog post about holiday marketing ideas for more of the statistics behind this decision and some tips for how you could offer it.) You could also have some sort of preview so customers know the upfront cost before going to the cart.
However, unexpected fees are not the only reason that your checkout process may lead to your product not selling online. Here is a list of several other ways the checkout process may be hurting your sales:
- You do not offer enough shipping options.
- Customers are forced to create an account, as opposed to being able to check out as a guest.
- Customers feel that there is too much upselling or cross-selling at checkout.
- You do not offer enough different payment options (different credit cards, e-wallets, etc.)
- The checkout process is too confusing, complex, or slow.
The Website is Poorly Designed
For that matter, sometimes it isn’t the checkout process that needs work. Sometimes, other aspects of the website need a revamp for you to sell your products online. One common issue, for example, is slow website loading speed. Around 40% of consumers will wait no more than 3 seconds before abandoning your site.
Of course, a site that crashes or one that isn’t mobile-friendly will also really frustrate customers. In those cases, they will leave, even if you have the best products to sell online.
Here are a few other suggestions for you to check on your website (or an ecommerce partner website) if you are selling online:
- Use a plug-in that shows customers prices in their local currency (and/or lets them choose their currency).
- Partner with a security company to ensure that your customer’s data will not be stolen. Prominently display that information, preferably with a seal.
- Make sure your navigation bar is clear and your search tool is functioning well. For many customers, this will be what they use to navigate if you offer multiple products.
- Ensure that your website shows up well on different browsers, not just one.
- Make sure your CTA is very clear. If you use a button, something as simple as a color change could make a difference.
One key red flag that indicates that your website and/or checkout process is poorly designed is if your online store has good traffic but a high bounce rate. This would suggest that many people are visiting, but something is causing them to leave without making a purchase.
You Need Better Product Photos
Product photography is so important to us that we have an entire blog post dedicated to its importance. However, to underscore its importance, here are two telling statistics:
- 93% of consumers say that visual appearance is a key factor in making a purchasing decision.
- 67% of online shoppers said high-quality images were more important to them than product descriptions or even reviews.
In short, product photography is extremely important when you sell products online. Customers need a high-quality picture of your product to overcome their hesitation of not seeing it and exploring it in person.
Your Product Descriptions Need Work
Just because product photos are important does not mean words are pointless. After your picture helps grab the customer’s attention, the product description still helps serve many important functions:
- Tells about important features in more detail
- Answers questions for the customer
- Makes clear how the product solves a need
Without a great product description, even the best products to sell online won’t be added to virtual carts. After all, even great products can’t market themselves.
You Don’t Feature Any Customer Reviews
Again, you can have one of the best products to sell online. However, that doesn’t really mean anything if it is only you who says that. Customers trust other customers much more than they trust the company trying to sell the product. That is why you need customer reviews. Again, many statistics bear this out:
- 91% of people read online reviews.
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- 68% of people form an opinion after reading 6 or fewer reviews
And there are other statistics in existence that underscore the same point: customer reviews are very powerful.
If you don’t currently have many reviews for your product(s), many methods exist to gain more. However, here are two ways that I think are best, both because they are honest and because they are effective:
- When a customer buys your product, send a follow-up email a few days later. In the email, include a link where the customer can give an honest review. Many of your customers will leave the review if the process is that easy. Plus, it is a nice customer service touch to thank the customer for their business.
- Set up a promotion where a customer can receive a discount if they refer a friend (and perhaps the friend can receive that discount as well.) Customers won’t refer friends unless they believe in the product. And again, that referral will go a long way toward giving you the social capital you need when selling online.
Both of these methods will likely give you more of a ROI than most other traditional advertising.
You Do Not Offer Assurances to Your Customers
Online selling has become so commonplace that we sometimes forget that it accounts for less than 20% of all sales. Several reasons exist to explain why more than 80% of sales are still in person, but one is that customers feel more comfortable with a physical store in case there are problems with the purchase.
Situations rarely exist anymore where a customer knows the local merchant, and they greet each other by name. Still, when a customer purchases an item in the store, they know that if they have problems, they can simply return to the store and get face-to-face customer service.
When you are selling online, there is no way to perfectly replicate this in-store experience. However, you can help overcome this worry in your customers by offering the following:
- A clear return policy
- A satisfaction guaranteed policy
- Great customer service, preferably through a phone number rather than just a chat bot or email system
On the surface, I know that these seem like they will be costly or a hassle. However, with how these policies will help your business in the long run, you should see a very positive ROI.
Your Marketing Needs Work
One final reason your product may not be selling online is because customers are not aware of you. Or, maybe they don’t see you as a trustworthy brand. Or, they aren’t seeing your products as a good value. All of these are essential to growing your customer base no matter how you sell, but they are particularly important when selling online because the marketplace can be crowded.
Here are a few potential digital marketing tips you can implement:
- Use coupon codes or some other form of promotions. Some people may claim that coupons are no longer effective as a marketing tool, but the numbers do not bear that out. 88% of people use coupons and 50% of 18- to 39-year-olds consider digital coupons and discounts to be important.
- Have a blog on your website to bring organic traffic to your site. The research on whether blogs lead to an increase in revenue is clear: they do. And there are many other benefits of blogging as well.
- Send a newsletter to your customers or to your subscriber list at least once a quarter. Doing so helps continually remind customers of your business and your products. It also helps you send updates about promotions. Finally, you can write the newsletters in such a way that your brand voice really shines through.
- Be sure that you have a clear sense of your target market. Unfortunately, many businesses suffer from not targeting the right market. However, an even more common problem is that businesses aren’t sure what their target audience wants. Focus groups and surveys are two ways to better understand your key demographic when selling online.
One important note: Do not wait until the product launches to crank up your marketing. Though it is of course important to market a product right after launch, you will have much more success selling online if you build up interest for a new product ahead of time.
While these obviously aren’t the only online selling ideas, they are the most common reasons that a product isn’t raking in the revenue you are hoping for. If you are feeling that you do not have the time or expertise to diagnose or fix the problem, contact May Dream Design at any time. Our experienced team can help get all your products selling online in no time!