Did you know that only 23% of Irish SMEs are using e-commerce to increase their sales?
Did you know that the Irish population spends €4 billion a year on online purchases but only a fraction of that goes to Irish businesses? People are shopping from UK and US websites, paying extra for shipping to Ireland or using delivery services like Parcel Motel if the online store abroad doesn’t ship to Ireland.
The Irish population are shopping online and it certainly seems there is a gap in the market for Irish businesses to take to the web.
Why are people shopping online more?
There’s a variety of reasons for this: partly due to lack of time; the wish to shop around and compare prices and products on three or more websites; for convenience; perhaps believing that shopping online will offer more competitive pricing. On average, people visit three websites to compare prices (which will include the shipping price). It is true that there are sectors of society who will compare prices online and then visit their local store to purchase (if the price is right) but that tends to be diminishing all the time.
People tend to shop online in the evenings. They may use the Pinterest search facility to plan their shopping and then click through to the websites. If websites are user friendly and easy to navigate, the shopping experience is relaxing and pleasurable.
When online clothing shops first became popular, people said it wouldn’t last because customers would like to try on their purchases first, they’d like to feel the fabric, the number of returns would be ridiculously high. Yet, there are a growing number of small and large businesses creating e-commerce websites to complement their ‘bricks and mortar’ shops.
The purchase of books is another interesting example. Despite the growing popularity of eBooks, paperbacks are still being consumed in huge numbers and not all of them are being purchased from Amazon. Bookshops are still doing well with many using e-commerce to boost their sales.
The use of smartphones and tablets are increasing too. People are browsing online while travelling on public transport, while waiting for children after activities and while watching television. While browsing on Pinterest, they are clicking the images to access the website and purchase the product and yes, it has been proved that visitors to websites from Pinterest are spending more than visitors arriving from other social media platforms.
How An Online Store Can Benefit Your Business
The overall benefit for any business is the increase of sales. You might be surprised at the various techniques and functionalities an e-commerce website can use to increase the sales and revenue.
Shoppers aren’t just guided or influenced by price. Providing a personal service, albeit online, is both appreciated by shoppers and can prove to be very beneficial in increasing sales. How can you provide a personal service via your online presence? Customers like to be informed of the various stages of receiving their order so emails confirming receipt of the order and despatch of the goods with tracking information are always a good idea.
Having a blog on the website which provides helpful tips, tells stories and tells readers about the benefits of the products for them (rather than the features) in a friendly tone is going to come across as friendly and personal too. Focusing on them (using ‘you’ and ‘your’ rather than ‘I’ and ‘we’) will emphasise the focus on the shopper rather than the seller.
2. Helpful Information
One way to be helpful is to recommend additional suitable products for the purchase. An example is having a website that suggests suitable accessories when an item of clothing is selected for purchase. This adds value to the original purchase but also helps the purchaser. If you have a jewellry, accessories or clothing store, using a tool like polyvore to create moodboards for complete outfits should prove popular too.
3. Reward Loyalty
Reward your loyal customers and followers by providing your email newsletter subscribers and your followers on social media platforms with occasional discount codes, sneak peeks and prizes.
As you can see in this example from Pet Shop online (an e-commerce website we designed recently), the store reassures purchases by highlighting the easy returns service and encourages return visits with a special offers sign-up. Offering free shipping is often a determining factor for shoppers too.
4. Problem Solving Products or Services
Using video, photographs and text, an online store can demonstrate how their product solves a problem just (or more) effectively than a sales assistant in a shop. If a customer is looking for a vacuum cleaner to rid their carpet of pet hair, they probably won’t be interested in the technical details but seeing a video demonstrating a hoover’s ability to suction up cat hair from a sofa is likely to swing the sale.
5. Reaching Everyone
Having an online store that changes currency automatically means that your business can receive orders from almost anywhere in the world. How will these shoppers know about your business and trust you? Having testimonials (written and video), a good ‘About Us’ page, regular blog posting and using social media to have conversations with others will build trust as well as brand awareness.
6. Quick and Easy
The website should be easy to navigate and if the website can retain the information for repeat shoppers, all the better. Anything that makes the shopping pleasurable and easy will encourage people to complete the purchases.
A search box is an essential tool and as you can see on this e-commerce website we designed for Hoey Parts & Plant Sales, shoppers can search under a variety of search terms. The website also offers the convenience of having its email address and phone number clearly visible and users can change to a different language too. Have you ever visited a website and found yourself wondering where in the English-speaking world is it based? Hoey have provided their postal address too.
Would you like to grow your business and increase sales with an e-commerce website? Whether you are a new start-up or an established business with a bricks-and-mortar shop, we can help you create the online store to suit your brand. Contact us on +353 42 9664833 to discuss.