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How to convert Browsers into Buyers - When selling on the internet, the same principles of selling apply with some subtle differences to normal marketing strategies....

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Articles written by Andrew Roberts Commercial Director of Discus Group

How to convert Browsers into Buyers

How to avoid abandoned shopping baskets

When selling on the internet, the same sales principals apply - with some subtle differences.
The demographics of the internet firstly mean that your potential customers come from a wider geographic area. Most individuals are still wary of purchasing on the internet unless it happens to be hi-tech equipment or gadgets.

Customers need confidence to make a purchase online so you must begin to build trust from the moment they arrive on your web site. This can be achieved by establishing a brand and a good reputation for the brand, offering no-quibble guarantees and using secure servers for transactions.

Remember the key to selling is to offer the customer what they want, when they want it at the price they feel is good value for money. If your internet shop does not easily convey these points to the viewer then they are likely to leave your shop as the next shop is less than 20 seconds away.

10 things which are proven to turn viewers off are as follows:

  1. Don't use to much Flash, large images, entry pages saying click here to enter the site or other gimmicks. Over 80% of visitors are proven to leave a site if it takes too long to download or has additional entry pages.
  2. Getting them to log in before they can look view your goods. Leave this till the checkout.
  3. If you want to sell something to viewers, make it easy for them to find and give all the information you can about the product / service. A viewer cannot touch it, rotate it around smell it or taste it on the internet so you need to make up for it. Signpost your shop clearly too.
  4. Make it easy to recognise what you sell. If it is a branded item, display logo's the viewer may not speak your language so make it easy to see your product by using pictures.
  5. Keep it very simple. Make it easy for people to add items into the shopping basket and proceed to your till. If not they are likely to leave your shop without purchasing.
  6. Provide easy and fast search facility that covers all possible options for a product. IE A car could be a 4 door, 4-door, four door, 4 dr.
  7. Keep your site content up to date. If you discontinue a line or add a new line update your stock list. Don't forget to add your terms and conditions of sale. If you have old / discontinued stock you may find you can easily sell it on the internet by discounting and attract regular customers.
  8. If you have a special offer then make sure it is easy to find. Again fast moving product lines should be placed at the entrance to your store. Don't forget to put hot links from these items to the item in the catalogue.
  9. Ask permission to keep a customers name and address so they don't have to re-enter it when they revisit.
  10. Make it clear if you have a guarantee and what it is. It reassures customers and reduces abortive sales. Happy customers spread the word, but not as much as a dissatisfied customer.

Customers put products into their basket for many reasons. They may be competitors, consumers comparing prices or are novice online shoppers who found your site difficult to use. Customers may even use the site to fill their basket and then pay by telephone. An abandoned basket isn't always negative.

Our 10 tips to avoid lost sales are as follows:

  1. Build trust with the viewer from the moment they arrive. Don't forget to keep your site simple and easy to use.
  2. Make sure you have contact details are on every page and easy to find. Respond to emails quickly and answer the phone professionally.
  3. Explain your delivery costs up front not at the till. This could cost you a sale. If declared early enough in the transaction, you may find the value of sales goes up as the viewers purchase more to justify delivery costs.
  4. Explain your guarantee and returns policy. Guarantees go a long way to persuading viewers to buy.
  5. Don't forget to include your terms and conditions and privacy policy.
  6. Explain your security and encryption process. Provide details of the security method, this could be from using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or bank approved software.
  7. Provide alternative ordering methods. If you want to maximise sales, give them details on how to order by phone fax and post. Make it easier by allowing shopping baskets to be completed. If you wish to disincentivise this method, make it clear an administration charge applies.
  8. Make the site fast. Use graphics effectively and not for the sake of it. Checkouts should be fast.
  9. Manage customer expectations. Tell them how long they can expect to wait for the product to be delivered and what your order cut off time is each day.
  10. Customer Service is Key. Encourage repeat business and referrals by meeting the customers needs. Make follow up checks by phone or email to check they are happy. If not rectify it if possible or show you care if you can't. Don't forget to ask for referrals.

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