Ecommerce essentials: How to sell online and grow your business

Last updated 13.02.2023

There’s never been a better time to start an Ecommerce business. By 2025 it’s estimated that Ecommerce sales will reach $7.4 trillion globally.

So it’s no surprise that many small business owners are considering starting an Ecommerce business, or adding Ecommerce to an existing brick-and-mortar store.

Selling online brings your business all kinds of advantages. For example, your target market and audience become the entire world. You can also sell anytime and anywhere with no hourly or seasonal restrictions. Finally, most people begin their purchasing journey online. By having an online store, you can meet your customers where they’re already at.

Luckily, selling online is easier than you might think. You’ll learn exactly what you need to start selling online, plus some tactics you can use to grow your business.

What you need to start selling online

Just like a physical storefront, your website will be the face of your business online. Creating a website is one of the most important parts of starting your Ecommerce business.

First thing you’ll need is a domain name. Ideally, you want a domain name that’s as close to the name of your business as possible.

Next, you need to choose a platform to manage your online store. Ecommerce platforms allow you to create your store, change the design, manage your inventory, receive payments, and ship your orders.

Some providers even offer social media integration to publish your products to social media, multiple payment gateways, and analytics, so you can analyse your data and maximise revenue.

Growing your Ecommerce business

Starting an Ecommerce business is pretty straightforward, but the real work comes in growing your business, building trust and authority, and ultimately making sales.

On the surface, growing only requires a couple of things. Attracting more of the right visitors to your store, building a relationship by providing value, and turning those visitors into long-term buyers. Below you’ll learn some Ecommerce tactics you can use to fuel your growth.

1. Grow your audience with digital marketing

Digital marketing covers a wide umbrella of online marketing strategies. However, there are a few that remain the most profitable and deliver the highest ROI for business owners.

The big three include email marketing, SEO, and advertising.

Email has been around since the dawn of the internet. It also offers a unique benefit that other platforms can’t compete with—you own your list. Other platforms come and go, but you always have your email list.

Not only that, but email is one of the most profitable digital marketing channels out there and offers a 3,600% ROI. That means for every $1 you spend you’ll see an average of $36 in return.

You can use your email list to notify customers of shipping updates, announce sales, get feedback to improve your store, and ultimately build a closer relationship with your buyers.

Another core focus should be Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO involves optimising your website content and product pages to rank in search engines like Google.

The higher you rank in the search engines for relevant keywords your customers are searching for, the more traffic and customers you’ll get.

Lastly, you have digital advertising, which can include Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) adverts, social media adverts, and influencer marketing. Each of these works a little differently, but the principle remains the same. You’re paying to get your products in front of your ideal visitors.

If you’re running PPC adverts with Google, you’ll be able to bid to appear as a top result for any keyword you choose. If one of your keyword bids is successful, every time someone searches for that keyword and clicks on your link, you’ll pay a fee. Google PPC adverts can be a powerful way to drive traffic to your site.

Social media marketing operates differently – instead of paying by the click like you would with PPC, you’ll be paying by the view (“PPV” or “pay-per-view”). Influencer marketing, on the other hand, involves paying people to promote or review your products online.

Even though digital advertising involves spending money upfront, it’s a powerful way to target your ideal audience.

2. Encourage repeat business and improve customer loyalty

Repeat customers spend 67 percent more money than new customers. Not only that, but repeat customers are easier to sell to. So, how do you encourage repeat business and make your customers happy?

If you have a solid product that solves the needs of your customers, this goes a long way toward them making a repeat purchase. Often, great products simply sell themselves.

A few of the main ways to build customer loyalty and encourage long-term buying behaviour are by offering coupons, creating loyalty programs, and investing time and energy into great customer service.

Offering visitors a discount coupon to join your email list is a common practice. However, you can also creatively use coupons to reward your most valued customers.

For example, you can ask current customers to fill out a survey to help you learn more about their experience. Then, once they complete the survey you can send them a coupon for a percentage off a future order. Since this gift is unexpected it helps to build goodwill.

Loyalty programs are another way to create lifetime buyers. The most common example is Amazon Prime. For an annual fee, members get free two-day shipping along with access to Amazon’s streaming service.

What kind of benefits can you offer buyers who stay with you over the long term?

Offering stellar customer service can even be a form of marketing. A lot of visitors may have questions or concerns about your products that are stopping them from making a purchase. By answering these, potential customers are more likely to convert.

You can improve customer service by offering multiple forms of contact, including email, chatbots on your website, and live chat on your website. By having several means of communication, you let your customers reach out to you with the method they feel most comfortable with.

3. Improve your store conversions and average order value

Once your audience is growing and customers are buying, you’ll want to spend time fine-tuning your sales process. This is also known as reducing buyer friction.

You’ll want to make it as easy as possible to buy from you. Think back to Amazon – all it takes is a couple of clicks and your product is on its way.

You can view your entire online sales process as an experiment. For example, does the price of your product align with what customers are expecting to pay? Are there too many steps to making a purchase? Where are shoppers abandoning their carts?

Your online store is a work in progress. You can continually test different elements so they  speak better to your ideal audience.

Beyond optimising your shopping cart, checkout pages, and product pages, you’ll also want to work on increasing your average order value. This is how much an average customer is worth to you.

Improving this number puts your store at an advantage. As you increase how much each customer is worth, you can spend more to acquire each customer. Whether you’re using digital advertising or investing in content for SEO, this lets you put more time and energy into growing your traffic.

Some of the most common ways to do this include adding upsells and downsells after your customer makes a purchase, selling continuity programs for a savings, and offering product bundles. Downsells differ from upsells by offering the customer a more affordable product rather than an upgrade or additional products to purchase.

Additionally, continuity programs give the customer the option to purchase the same item periodically over a set timeframe. Similar to bundle offers, continuity programs normally offer a small discount for purchasing more.

For example, let’s say your Ecommerce business sells bamboo toothbrushes. You can let your customers “subscribe and save” for a monthly delivery for a reduced fee. Instead of buying once, you now have a customer who’s making a purchase every single month.

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