As you gear up into the most exciting and stressful time of year for online retailers, you may be wondering if you’ve done everything you can to get the most out of this year’s Holiday shopping season. This close to “Black Friday” there isn’t time to completely overhaul your e-Commerce site, and even search engine optimization efforts take a few weeks before you will see results. Those things should typically be planned in late Summer.
Right now, you should be concentrating on updating your product photos and descriptions and beginning your online marketing push that might include a Pay-Per-Click campaign, email marketing, print mailers to existing customers, and more. You should also consider implementing the features outlined below that come standard in all versions of ProductCart released since 2007. Each of them offers a big return on investment for you and is easily and quickly set up.
1. Product Reviews
One barrier to sales online can often be the physical distance between the shopper and the product they want to buy – they can’t touch it, try it on, test it out, or even see if the shelves are clearing fast. Mega-sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble have overcome that barrier successfully by using Customer Reviews. When Amazon first started letting customers post reviews of their products, other retailers thought they were nuts, but shoppers quickly came to rely on product reviews to tip the scale and help them make a decision. Furthermore, sites that use product reviews have learned two things that run counter to most assumptions:
- The average grade for reviewed products is 4.3 out of 5 stars, according to this article by Geoffrey Fowler and Joseph De Avila of The Wall Street Journal. Consumers are overwhelmingly positive when it comes to online reviews.
- Even negative reviews can boost sales. Only a month after installing product review software, Alpacadirect.com saw sales climb 23%, even on items that received “bad” reviews. (See full article here.)
Shoppers appreciate reading reviews, and including even negative reviews adds to the level of trust you have built with them as a retailer. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, online shoppers list product reviews as the most desired feature of a website. So what’s stopping you from adding this feature to your website today?
ProductCart shopping sites include a system that allows you to enable customer reviews quickly and easily – either store wide or for individual products. You can also manage, check, approve and reject reviews. Reviews can post immediately, or you can require approvals before they show up in your catalog.
Simply go to the Products menu and choose Manage Product Reviews > Product Reviews Setting. Everything you need to start including product reviews on your website today can be managed from there.
Shoppers love coupons. And with more than 70% of the American population now online, online coupons are becoming more and more popular. According to Simmons/Experian Research and Coupons Inc., online coupon usage has grown 39% since 2005.
Planned skillfully, coupons can do more than just attract bargain shoppers. You can design your coupons to:
- Generate buzz for a new product – Create a coupon for your new or featured product and distribute it widely online through your customer email list and online coupon sites.
- Attract new and first-time customers – Create a coupon code for first-time buyers; for instance 15% off of a shopper’s first purchase online. Encourage customers to share this coupon code with their friends.
- Increase average transaction size – Encourage larger purchases by creating a coupon that rewards customers for spending more, i.e. Free Shipping on orders over $100.
- Encourage customer loyalty – Follow up all of your purchases (both online and off) by providing your customer with a special coupon code for further discounts or promotions. Or reward “preferred customers” with periodic, exclusive discount codes sent to them via email.
ProductCart lets you set up your coupons in many different ways. Discount codes can be based on purchase level, be associated with specific products (or all of them), have a set dollar value ($10) or a set percentage off (10%), be activated by a specific quantity level, and even be assigned to specific customers only (you can also use the Pricing Category feature for this). You can assign free shipping. You can base coupons on a customer’s shipping location. You can set the discounts to be applied to an order automatically if it meets specific criteria, or require that the customer enter a code during checkout. Coupon codes can be set up for one-time use or designed to be shared and re-used. You can even decide if customers can use multiple discount codes in a single order. To create and manage coupons in the latest version of ProductCart , select Discount by Code from the Marketing menu.
Once your coupons are created, you have several options for delivering them to new and existing customers:
Online Coupon Distribution:
- Email campaign to existing customers and/or newsletter subscribers
- Encourage email recipients to “Forward to a Friend”
- Include a special coupon code for their next purchase in the Auto-response email that confirms order shipment
- Display special coupons on your Home page
- Link a coupon code to banner ads displayed on other websites
- Advertise coupon promotions on Social Networking sites – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
- Add your coupons for free to online coupon directories like RetailMeNot.com, UltimateCoupons.com, Coupon Cabin, Coupon Chief, Coupon Sherpa, Dealio, GOdeals.com, and more
Offline Coupon Distribution:
- Add a special coupon code to Yellow Pages, magazine, newspaper, and other print ads so you can track sales conversions
- Include a special code in radio and television ads
- Print out stacks of online-only coupons to distribute at your retail location, encouraging offline customers to visit and shop online
- Swap promotions with a complimentary retailer (like a pet groomer, if you sell themed pet apparel), so that customer to their store will get a coupon for your website at checkout, and vice versa.
- Include coupons with all of your shipped orders
- Print a special coupon code on the back of your business cards, brochures, and promotional mailers