By Brian Royce Nov 10, 2016
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are around the corner, and so we decided to speak with a few great retailers and get some internet sales advice. We were curious what does it take to be successful online while maintaining and increasing your instore sales. Is it all about price? No, it seems content and price play equal parts, more on that later. Is it about selection hell yea. Customer service? You bet! Below we are going to review the ecommerce tips we got from retailers around the country.
In the ecommerce world of 2016, the modern “bricks and mortar” firearms dealer needs to have multiple sales channels and the internet seems to be a great place to find information and to purchase guns and accessories. Before someone freaks out and emails me – all guns have to be sold by a licensed dealer. This is a fact.
All the dealers we spoke with all said that up-to-date e-commerce technology is key to growing sales. The first round of discussions all centered around a few key points. Each retailer brought up how important it is to have the website be responsive, fun, friendly and inviting! How important their customer’s first impression is vital. Photos matter – imagery sells your product. Many of them said that the site navigation needs to be intuitive, easy-to-use, and clear. Tapping into social media is critical. All related interesting stories about referrals and how they are the best way to sell something. Social media is the mother-load of referral advertising. Many related how telling a story is important. They even told me about blogging online and invite your potential customers to turn them into a firearms expert.
Another hot topic was the addition of a live-chat function to make your conversation intimate. Several dealers said the same thing that it greatly helped with the close rate and it made the shopping experience easier. 44% of on-line consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer. Live Chat also greatly increases Sales.
When talking with dealers we learned that taste was very subjective but all of them agreed that the look and feel is very important. You have to own it and make the persona online work. Case studies suggest that people form purchasing decisions online base on the visual elements of the site. Visuals are the single most important part of an e-commerce website and have the biggest sales impact. Most of the dealers we asked all told us the same thing that they had been down several different design paths that they wish they had more design direction but that they learned over time what worked.
The most obvious thing content is clearly getting more attention now. Adding new content regularly is critical both to driving traffic and mitigating penalty risks such as the recent Google Phantom update a program that can impact an ecommerce site negatively.
Google publishes incredible research into how people buy things online – and particularly the role of the cellular phone. Investing in a great mobile experience is essential for all e-commerce businesses, and in 2017, you should focus on a mobile mindset first and foremost. Your web pages must be mobile-friendly – as well as also look good on a desktop or laptop!
Small shots really see a shift in the way people are shopping just like the big guys. We estimate that as much as 80% of traffic within the next three years will be driven by video content, and there are key case studies from Amazon and Zappos that show this has become the main focus to pushing growth and sales conversions.
Then there are your product reviews! These are critical for a booming success, and it’s important to invest in nurturing great reviews. Customer reviews are the best sales tools – and content – you can have: they reduce bad purchasing decisions and influence new purchasers. When we advise our firearms dealers, they often underestimate the value of reviews. Amazon, Newegg, and many other Internet retailers have discovered the magic of honest reviews – and provide incentives to their customers to write them, becoming a critical part of their sales operation. And they add huge ‘SEO’ value to the website – that will drive your website up the Google, Bing, and other search engine ratings.
Next month we’ll discuss quick fixes that will generate more sales – and turn you into an e-commerce pro. We’ll tackle cart abandonment, self-hosted auctions, special pricing, loan purchasing, and make-an-offer options.