With holiday pre-season shopping in full swing, you may want to take a close look at your online sales strategy. With attention to product offerings and customer service and a little “digital elbow grease," you could see your online sales rise sharply.
This was the case with Dor L Dor. The clothing retailer recently hit $1 million in net online sales after three years of paying attention to the digital details. Dor L Dor started in 2003 with one brick-and-mortar location in lower Manhattan and now has seven stores throughout New York and New Jersey, as well as a thriving online marketplace.
“In this technological time, if you're not moving forward quickly, you'll stall," says Elliot Dejmal, co-owner of Dor L Dor. “Traffic is hard to drive, so it pays to find smart ways to drive it. When you do attract customers, keep them coming back with unique products and excellent customer service."
With e-commerce eroding brick-and-mortar retail, it's important for retailers to learn how to effectively compete in the digital marketplace, believes Steve Miley, vice president of client services at innovation agency Tallwave. (The company helps companies build their digital sales.)
“Brands that make the online user experience as easy and smooth as possible and create reasons for customers to return, gain a competitive edge," Miley says.
Here Dejmal, Miley and other digital retail experts weigh in on how you can help boost your online sales this holiday season.
1. Partner with others to drive online sales traffic.
“Piggyback with partners that can help you scale quickly," suggests Dejmal. His company partnered with Shoptiques, an online marketplace for women's clothing and home décor that was founded by CEO Olga Vidisheva. It now serves as a platform for shops throughout the world.
“Shoptiques hosts our online website, handles logistics and ensures we're utilizing all of the new technologies," says Dejmal. “With such synergistic relationships, you can potentially create a never-ending wheel of innovation that continues to drive business your way."
—Elliot Dejmal, co-owner, Dor L Dor
“Small retailers spending the majority of their time in-store don't usually have the capabilities or staff to focus on innovating their digital experience," says Vidisheva. "Make it easier to discover new products and build customer relationships by finding partners to help [with logistics] like negotiating with shipping providers, finding the fastest way to ship product internationally and optimizing the checkout flow."
2. Make offering superior customer service paramount.
“Always remember that customers choose to shop with you, so it's important to do everything possible to keep them returning," says Dejmal. “Each customer interaction is bound to be different. Whatever you do, it's important that customers leave the interaction feeling better."
According to Dejmal, Dor L Dor goes above and beyond for customers. “We always accept late return requests or re-order for customers if they reach out," he says. “And we ship orders out the same day. Quick shipping is the new normal. Your business will suffer if you aren't able to deliver that to customers."
3. Ensure a seamless mobile experience.
When developing your e-commerce strategy, consider focusing on developing an effective, safe m-commerce platform, suggests Matthew Katz, CEO and founder of Verifi, a payment management and protection company.
“The younger, tech-savvy generations continue to look for and expect frictionless, easy ways to conduct purchases via mobile," Katz says.
“Aim for a seamless online experience," Eaton-Cardone says. "A non-responsive mobile website can cause shopping cart abandonment to skyrocket."
Customers also expect to easily move between various channels, adds Eaton-Cardone.
“Make cross-channel interaction as simple as possible," she says. "Failing to do so is no different than putting barriers in front of a physical store to stop customers from entering."
4. Personalize the online sales experience for your customers.
Brands can't rely on customer loyalty like they used to, believes Eaton-Cardone.
“Customers return to the merchants that offer a personalized experience," she says. "They want to see the kinds of products they typically shop for, as well as new recommendations based on their history."
5. Incorporate discovery shopping on your website.
Consider using discovery shopping as part of your holiday sales strategy, suggests Andrew Blachman, COO of Tophatter, a mobile marketplace where shoppers compete in 90-second auctions.
“Many customers don't know exactly what they want and are looking for inspiration," says Blachman. “We've seen this on Tophatter, where more than 90 percent of the three million purchases each month are 'discovered,' meaning there's no search query before a purchase. The experience is more like a treasure hunt."
6. Supplement your online sales with engaging content.
Consider adding interesting content to your website. The content can be designed to attract customers and sell them on your products.
“Increase online sales by publishing articles and videos featuring the best gifts in different categories," suggests Eaton-Cardone. “For example, best gifts under $50, best gifts for techies and best gifts for teens. Also consider informative content that takes a subtler sales approach, such as history lessons, how-to guides and project or craft ideas."
7. Continually offer your customers new products.
Customers are constantly searching for something new, so Dor L Dor adds new products daily.
“To come up with ideas for new items, listen to your customers, employees and your instincts," says Dejmal. “And be willing to test new products. Remember that you just need one or two winners to pay for 10 mistakes."
Adding new products daily can help inspire customers to return on a regular basis, which will increase online sales, believes Vidisheva.
"Customers learn that there's something new to discover on your site everyday," she says. "I suggest allocating a few minutes each morning to add five products to your e-store."
8. Compete with your bigger competitors.
Given that Amazon is likely your number one competitor; it pays to ask yourself why a customer would buy something on your site rather than the online retail giant.
“It could be that you're selling unique products simply not available on Amazon, as is the case with Dor L Dor," says Dejmal. “Maybe you have differentiated pricing through a competitive advantage, or your brand and point of view sets you apart. Regardless of your differentiator, know the one thing that makes you different and be excellent at that one thing."
9. Reorder quickly
Dejmal has found online sales success by initially buying small quantities of products and seeing which ones hit success quickly.
“If a product sells fast on the first day, I immediately place a re-order to fulfill all the demand I can," he says.
10. Keep at it.
“It might sound cliché, but this is important to remember above all else," says Dejmal, in the wake of reaching $1 million in online sales. “Keep trying until you succeed. If you have that mentality, there's nothing to stop you or your business from coming out on top. Retail is a never-ending process that you can always keep improving."
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