Do you love shopping online? I do! I love the convenience of sitting in my comfortable bed in my pajamas with my laptop, a cup of tea, and my sleeping baby next to me. I love not having to hunt for a parking space, or deal with getting three little ones in and out of their car seats or having to carry any heavy bags into the house. These days, I do most of my shopping online because kids. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s usually very painless. I get to enjoy my kids at home without having to worry about how long they can last walking up and down the aisles of my favorite store, all while trying to find everything on my list. If you are a mom, you get it. Even if you’re not, you likely also get some of the benefits of shopping online because reports have shown many retailers are having trouble competing with online retailers these days.
You know what’s even more fun than shopping online? SELLING online! That’s right. That means people are paying YOU for your products or services. Maybe both. If you are a small business owner, blogger, or other type of online entrepreneur, you will understand how exciting it is being able to fully control the sell of a product or service that belongs to you. It’s validating when people place a financial value on your creation by completing that transaction. And as your business grows and your sales increase, it’s great to know that you are in charge of your life. The freedom to go, do, be, and work from anywhere as an entrepreneur is usually the driving force behind what we all do. Waking up to see that you’ve had sales come in while you were sleeping is a great feeling also Passive income. It’s what keeps the American Dream going for many families.
But what happens when your website launches and all you hear are crickets? No apps are notifying you of sales. In fact, you’re not even sure anyone is seeing your website. “Is this thing on?” you may be wondering. Perhaps you’ve posted like crazy to all your family and friends on social media. You feel upset that no one is buying. Not only is it disappointing after all the hard work you’ve put in, but you also begin to question your product or service. But the biggest issue that may be holding you back could be something else. Here are the 5 most common reasons your online website isn’t getting any sales and what you can do to change that:
1. You’ve Over-Complicated Everything.
What does your home page look like? Just because you have an eCommerce site doesn’t mean that customers will click around to find your products. If you don’t have products for sale directly on the home page, or a very obvious “Buy” or “Shop” button, they may not realize that they can shop directly on your website. Having the “Add to Cart” button appear only on mouseover is not fun, it’s potentially keeping you from sales. On average, you have less then 30 seconds to capture someone’s attention before they leave your site. If they don’t see products for sale immediately, they may never see them.
The key to successful selling online is getting the customers to place the product into their shopping cart and complete checkout in as few steps as possible. Having products for sale on the home page is the first step of this process. Next, make sure everything they need to know is right on the product listing page: size options, color choices, etc. Once in cart, the “Checkout” button should be very obvious. Bonus points if you have a cool plugin to suggest similar items upon checkout.
Websites that over-complicate things may get traffic, but they don’t get sales. Even if people want the products, they will often abandon the items in their cart and buy elsewhere, perhaps one of your competitors who has a better functionality on their site. Anyone can have a website, but a conversion path is what generates income. That’s why many people who invest in a professional website build usually see a much greater return compared to those who try to do it themselves.
2. Bad Product Photos Don’t Sell Great Products.
Shopping in person means trying things on to see how they fit, feeling the fabric between your fingers to judge the quality and comfort, smelling the freshly-baked cupcakes before you order your favorite flavor, and seeing with your eyes what it looks like next to another product. When customers shop online, images are everything. Some would say that they’re essentially buying the photos, not the products, because that’s all they have to go by. When you have bad product images, even if your products are great, customers will never see anything but bad quality. When a company puts out cheap, low-quality marketing materials, it tells their customer that they don’t care about their own image. It makes them wonder what other areas the business may be cutting corners–perhaps quality? This also tells the customer they may not care about the customer, either. If you’re not a professional photographer, hire a studio or firm to take that product photos for you. It will completely change your online sales. There’s a reason why Amazon is such a huge company AND they have very strict requirements for product photos on the site. A clean, uniform look that shows the product well, in high resolution, and from multiple angles is the standard. Anything less and you can expect low sales.
Things to keep in mind when taking product photos:
Take your photos in great lighting. Make sure products are positioned properly. Take high resolution images from multiple angles. Be sure to eliminate distractions in the photos (clean, white backgrounds are often best for listing photos. Use the creative photos for the website slider, blog, and social media). Position your products on a clean surface, not the floor of your apartment. Make sure the products look brand new, clean, and otherwise like anything else someone would buy online. Make sure all of your product photos look uniform: this is where the lighting comes into play again. Sometimes photos have a yellow tint to them, other times they can look more grey. Try to keep them all white, and definitely make sure they all match each other. There are photo editing programs available that can help you adjust the exposure. Use them!
3. Customers Don’t Trust You with Their Payment Information.
Unfortunately, hackers are getting pretty crafty with online phishing scams and other ways to steal personal and billing info from the Internet. This risk makes people a bit more apprehensive of shopping online, especially if it’s a website they’ve never heard of before. Big companies like Amazon are trusted for security. But for small businesses, your job is not only to make your site look and feel trustworthy, but also to actually protect customer data. For this reason, a third-party payment processor like PayPal is ideal. You don’t want the responsibility of storing customer’s credit card information. Also, you want to protect and secure your site with an SSL Certificate. This can be purchased fairly inexpensively (around $65/year) from online service companies like GoDaddy. Without getting too technical, it helps protect and secure your site by encrypting the data sent back and forth between your customers and you. This is not something to skip. If you want customers to trust you with their money, you need to protect their info. You can do this by taking all the technical steps necessary as well as building trustworthy branding that invites them to shop with you. For example, when customers see an incomplete website or, things that shouldn’t be on the live site like “This is your description box,” they begin to lose confidence in your business and it may cost you a sale. Have a few trusted colleagues give your site a once-over and get their honest opinions on any areas that need improvement. Their critiques should be seen as helpful rather than hurtful as they may be thinking the same thoughts as your potential customers, so let them know the more honest, the better. It will give you a chance to cross your t’s and dot your i’s before it really counts.
4. Your Customers Are Unimpressed with your DIY Online Store.
The overall look and feel of your website can convey trust or raise a red flag depending on how things look. If you threw together a site all by yourself over the weekend to save money, Congratulations! You saved money…… but you likely also lost more than you saved. Huh? Let me explain…. If your website looks like crap, people won’t shop with you. It’s just the way that it is. People can shop all over the Internet without feeling concerned. Consider sites where you personally shop. What do they have in common? Chances are they look and feel professional, enough so that you trust them with your credit card information and address.
Anyone can build a website. There are a few tools and advertisements that target small business owners into thinking a DIY site is not only possible, but a great idea! Wrong. Unless you do this for a living, your DIY site is going to look and function like a DIY site. Important elements could be missing and that will change your potential customer’s user experience and perception of your brand. Did your sister’s neighbor’s cousin offer to build you a site for $200? That’s awesome…. for him. But not for you or your sales. You get what you pay for rings especially true in this industry.
You certainly don’t have to break the bank, but you definitely need to invest into the one area that is responsible for your entire online income. There are plenty of ways to save money in your business. Your online store is certainly not one of them. This is just as important as if you had a physical retail location. You likely wouldn’t set up shop in a sketchy alley along the “bad side” of town, so don’t make your online customers feel that same type of uncomfortable feeling when they’re on your site. Investing in a professionally-built website will give you the BEST chance of success selling your products online.
5. No one knows You Exist.
The “If-you-build-it-they-will-come,” marketing plan may work well for your child’s lemonade stand. However, when it comes to selling online, nothing can be further from the truth! Having a fantastic website that works well and looks great is only half of the package. You still have to do marketing and promoting. SEO (search engine optimization) and social media will become your best friends. Unless you are physically handing out business cards with your website URL or telling people to visit you (which also means your audience is severely limited), it’s going to be nearly impossible to find you online. Millions of people shop online each day. Don’t hide from them. They want to pay you.
Most new customers don’t search for your business by name, they search for what they want to find or purchase. Whatever you are selling may be exactly what they need, but without proper SEO, when they Google their need, your solution won’t show up among the results. SEO is somewhat complex, somewhat simple. There are many ways you can improve SEO on your own. There are also a few reasons why hiring someone may be a good idea. Working out a marketing plan for your online presence is essential to your success.
As easy as it is for you to sell online, there are thousands of others selling right next to you. You have your work cut out for you: They have to find you. They have to like you. They have to trust you. They have to commit to making the purchase. It’s your job to make sure they can do all four of those things. If any one of them isn’t complete, you lose the sale.
Remember, you can do it. I can help!
You may be overwhelmed by all the services that you need. Just breathe. Keep in mind that these suggestions are all just tools that, if used correctly, can have a strong impact on the success of your business. You don’t have to hire everything out all at once. Pace yourself according to your business size, needs, growth, goals, and budget. Prioritize what you need soonest. Then add to it as you grow. Having a great website will automatically give you a boost in sales. Then, as sales start coming in, you can work on boosting up SEO and marketing. Keep in mind that SEO is more than just buying ads and paying for optimized keywords. That’s just part of it. There are also great ways to optimize your content without paying for ads! Using social media and blogging regularly can also greatly improve your SEO, and you can probably start out doing these things on your own today.
As always, remember, I’m here to help! If you’re looking for someone who has been there and done that, both as a marketing professional with 10 years of experience, and as a small business owner who has sold products and services worldwide, drop me a line and I’ll help you get started.
I’d love to help you grow your business!
Until then, I wish you incredible sales and success online!