Are you trying to increase your sales? Would you like to grow your exports? Are you trying to reach more buyers overseas or expand into markets abroad?
More and more Irish businesses are taking advantage of Internet Marketing and eCommerce to grow their sales. As we all know, the Irish population is small, even smaller than the Manchester area in England so selling your product online opens up the potential for your business.
9 Tips for Successful eCommerce
- Selling online means you are expanding your target audience from local to national to international. Your website must be responsive – i.e. works well on tablets and mobile as well as desktops. It should also be optimised for search engines, this means that people searching for your product should be able to find your website (once the best keyword phrases are used) and able to purchase easily even if using a smartphone.
- Your contact details (and some testimonials or reviews) must be on the website. This may be obvious but your potential customers want assurance that yours is a genuine business with a good sales and customer service record.
- Running an eCommerce store has much lower overhead costs than a bricks and mortar store and can also be a natural complement to a physical shop. Google analytics can also provide you with valuable information about where they come from, which search terms are the most successful and indicates their buying habits. Ensure Google analytics is set up for your website and that you understand how to analyse the information provided so you can learn from your customers’ behaviour.
- A good eCommerce website will provide customers with answers to their questions by having shipping costs visible, customer reviews of products, explanations of how products work, comparisons between different products and even boost sales with related products (which do enhance the customers’ shopping experience). This saves staff time as the website can take their place for dealing with queries. If you are selling clothing, have a sizing guide available so they can check their measurements and reduce the likelihood of returns.
- Just as a good shopping experience in a physical shop will encourage repeat sales, the same goes for eCommerce. By having a straightforward buying process with notifications being emailed to advise of dispatch and tracking details, this encourages repeat purchases.
- Customers expect to be able to purchase online now so having an online store equips you to compete effectively with your competitors. Your website can demonstrate that you have the latest products and if you have a blog, you can showcase your expertise and knowledge too.
- Having a good presence on social media platforms allows you to communicate with potential customers as well as providing good customer service. Many customers now use Twitter and Facebook to send queries to stores and expect a reply within the same business day if not the hour. Demonstrating your prompt and polite customer service convinces customers to purchase and indeed, using social media means you can communicate with people all over the world, thereby increasing export sales.
- Those browsing on Pinterest spend more than when clicking through from any other social media platform. The guided search on Pinterest plus their new and improved ‘related search’ means there is huge potential for customers to find your products. How will it work? If you sell lamps, all a customer has to do now is click on a suitable lamp on a pin and Pinterest will respond with similar products for sale. Having ‘pin it’ buttons beside products on your website and maintaining a strong Pinterest presence will encourage repinning, click throughs and sales.
- Email marketing can lead to increased sales. By building a subscriber list and sending out regular emails, it only takes one click for a customer to purchase and can lead to more and more repeat purchases. You can even use software that will target customers leaving products in their baskets without completing the sale and you can segment good customers and reward them accordingly.
If you are thinking that you would like to avail of these facilities for your business but are wondering how your business can afford them or if you can spread the cost, there are a variety of supports available for Irish businesses. These include:
1. Local Enterprise Office Digital Voucher Scheme
The Digital Voucher Scheme are still available in some of the LEOs. These are available for ecommerce websites or websites whereupon the buyer can book an appointment and make online payments. They also cover the cost of some training programmes for social media and for advertising if using an external provider (for example if you hire a digital marketer to co-ordinate Facebook advertising). If eligible, the ecommerce vouchers scheme provides 50% of the total cost up to a total cost of €5,000 and excluding VAT. We have more information on the ecommerce digital vouchers on our previous post.
Microfinance Ireland offers loans from €2,000 to €25,000 to businesses in Ireland so this is one way to obtain a business loan and protect your cashflow.
3. Enterprise Ireland Internet Marketing Unit (IMU)
The IMU of Enterprise Ireland provides grant support to businesses who wish to increase their sales abroad, to export-focused clients. It provides one-to-one training and action-based learning to help you plan and implement your marketing plans online. Their questionnaire and contact details can be accessed on the Enterprise Ireland website. This focuses on business owners who are keen to increase their exports.
If you would like to ask us more about developing or improving an ecommerce website, do get in touch.