6 Important Factors that Can Affect Your Ecommerce Sales
Running an Ecommerce website is a lot of work. There are a ton of moving parts that work independently of one another, but they have work in concert to end up generating sales for your business. With everything that goes into managing your online store, it’s easy to overlook some key areas that may be tanking your conversion rate.
Here are 6 of the most important factors that can affect your Ecommerce sales.
1. High Shipping Rates
The leading cause for shopping cart abandonment is expensive shipping rates. There is no bigger turn off for a customer than to find the thing they want, put it in their cart, and then see a ridiculously high shipping rate.
They’re out. They’re going back to Google or to a known competitor to see if it costs less to ship the same thing.
I’ll give you an example.
A previous client of ours ran a Ecommerce website that sold video surveillance equipment. They sold products from high resolution cameras to recording servers all the way down to cheap cable connectors. When we were investigating their low conversion rates, we found that they absolutely tanked shortly after they launched their new website.
We knew that their traffic was steady, their prices didn’t change, and neither did their selection so we looked into their shipping charges. We found our culprit very quickly. It cost a minimium of $12.63 to ship out a single connector from their store (see below). Roughly 23 times the cost of the product.
This was a persistent issue across their entire catalog, though not as egregious. Their shipping rates were simply too high, 28% higher than their competitors to be precise, and it was drastically affecting their online sales.
At the end of the day, Amazon changed the game. People expect fast and cheap (or free) shipping on their online orders.
Understandably, shipping is a cost that you, as a business owner, would like to offset by what you charge for it. However, it’s not a revenue stream. Don’t treat it like one. It’s better to take a small hit per order to keep those orders coming in.
If your ecommerce sales are being affected by your shipping rates, try:
- Switching to USPS flat rate shipping.
- Contacting your shipping provider to negotiate better rates.
- Offering a single shipping option to keep shipping charges low.
- Checking the shipping configuration in your Ecommerce platform to make sure it was implemented correctly.
- Switching shipping providers.
- Offer free shipping on orders over a certain dollar amount.
- Periodically run free shipping promotions.
2. Product Reviews
Product reviews are one of the primary factors customers weigh when buying something online. Nearly 72% of consumers say that product reviews help them trust a company more prior to purchase.
This should come as no surprise. If you’re going to buy something from a company you’ve never done business with before, you want to make sure that you’re getting a good product. The only way to be sure of that is to look at the product reviews.
The more (real) positive reviews you have, the more potential customers will trust you and will be more likely to buy from you.
Bear in mind, this cuts both ways. If your product has good reviews, you should see more sales, but if it has bad reviews, you can see those sales dry up very quickly. This is one of the reasons why reputation management is so vital in the online space. Just a few bad reviews can derail your business.
If your ecommerce sales are being affected by product reviews, try:
- Sending a post-purchase follow up email asking customers to review your products.
- Holding a monthly raffle where writing a product review is the cost of entry.
- Contacting customers that leave reviews on Yelp, Facebook, etc. to post a review on the product they purchased.
- Reaching out to negative reviews to fix the issue and ask them to revise it.
3. Competitor Pricing
It’s easier than ever to price shop online. It’s even easier if you’ve set up multi-channel selling through third party marketplaces like Amazon, Newegg, and so on since the prices are on the same page!
Consumers will spend a good amount of time looking for the best deal before they buy a product. If they can get the same thing at one of your competitors for $200 less than what you sell it for, you just lost a sale to your competitor.
Now, you don’t have to have the lowest price online, but you need to be able to justify your price. This is where value comes into play.
Price is how much you pay for something, but value is what you get out of it. And since value varies from person to person, it can be difficult to leverage which is why we have things like value added services.
Value added services could be anything from a generous trial period / return policy, free tech support, or any other additional service that’s made available on purchase. Car warranties are value added services. Great warranties are one of the reasons why Hyundai is one of the fastest growing car manufacturers in America.
(This is also why you see products advertised as “a $3,000 value for only $499!” It’s not worth 3 grand. It’s a trick to make you think you’re getting a deal. Spoiler alert: you’re not.)
- Perform regular competitor pricing checks to make sure you’re not priced out of the market.
- Brainstorm some value added services your company could put into practice.
- Contact your vendors to negotiate better costs so you can have more wiggle room on your pricing.
- Find ways to lower your overhead and keep more profit per sale.
4. Business Reviews
Business reviews are of equal, and sometimes more, importance as product reviews. Customers want to buy a good product, but they also want to buy it from a good company too.
Sometimes things go wrong and, for the most part, customers are understanding of this. BUT, they also want to feel safe knowing that the company they’re dealing with will take care of them if that something does go wrong.
For instance, let’s say that you run a high end clothing boutique and a customer likes a few of your pieces. Before that customers buys from you, they do a little digging to see what other customers think of you and it’s not good. There are reviews saying that your return policy is difficult to understand, that your customer service reps are rude, and that your business doesn’t give a flip about its customers.
You’ve got a major problem on your hands.
People can justify high price tags. High end clothes are trendy, they make people feel good about themselves, some celebrity wears the same brand, etc. etc. What people can’t justify is poor customer service because a company should always put their customers first.
If your ecommerce sales are being affected by business reviews, I’ll be honest with you, you may have to change your company culture.
This isn’t as simple as tweaking some ad copy or creating an automated email. This is an issue that stems from how your company is run.
You may need to re-train entire departments, revamp company policies, and, potentially, let some people go. A change in leadership might be in the cards too.
5. Word of Mouth Recommendations
There are very few marketing tactics stronger than word of mouth recommendations.
Think about it. If you’re looking at buying a thing and a trusted friend or your spouse says, “Oh, I bought that a few months back. It’s great. You should try it!” You’re going to buy that thing.
The same thing goes when someone you trust on social media recommends something in their feed.
That recommendation firmly pushes you from the potential customer column into the customer column because it’s all about credibility.
By yourself, you’re just another faceless company, but with Katie’s or John’s recommendation, you’re “that company my close friend recommended”.
This is is because the trust you have for the person recommending the product is automatically transferred to what they’re talking about. They’re essentially vouching for the quality of the product. Don’t believe me?
92% of consumers believe word of mouth recommendations over any type of advertising.https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/word-of-mouth-marketing/
If you want to boost your Ecommerce sales by leveraging word of mouth marketing, try:
- Creating a referral program to incentivize customer referrals.
- Be more present (and active) on social media.
- Add testimonials in prominent places on your website.
- Putting the customer first. Goodwill always comes back to you.
6. User Friendliness of Site
People (generally) follow the path of least resistance and that goes double when we’re searching for something online.
Products need to be easy to find. Your site navigation should be intuitive & clear. Text should be easy to read. Site search should be quick, accurate, and relevant to the query. Checkout should be quick and painless.
All of this may sound simple and easy, but don’t forget, what’s easy for you might be difficult for other people.
If there are any pain points on your website, your site visitors will get frustrated. And the more frustrated they get, the more likely they are to leave your store and not buy from you.
If your Ecommerce store is suffering from poor user experience, try:
- Getting a UX / CRO firm to audit your website.
This is what you should do. However, if you want to do it yourself, try:
- Getting a UX / CRO firm to audit your website.
Seriously. Sarcasm aside, you’re too close to your website. Meaning, you use it too often and you’re too familiar with it. You need a fresh set of unbiased eyes to give their honest opinion about how to improve your store.
Focus your time elsewhere. Get a UX / CRO firm on the phone.
There’s a lot that goes into whether or not your Ecommerce store will generate sales and with how much that goes into managing one of these sites, it’s very easy to overlook what might be impacting your sales.
- High shipping rates
- Product reviews
- Competitor pricing
- Business reviews
- Word of mouth
- User friendliness