Learn How to Build a Successful eCommerce Business and What It Takes to Operate One
What makes something sell in an eCommerce store?
On the one hand, it of course boils down to the nature of the product itself; whether it offers good value for money and whether it’s something that people actually want.
It also comes down to timing, marketing and many other factors.
But actually, what’s perhaps most of all is the way it is positioned within that store.
This might sound strange but the way in which a product is positioned within an eCommerce store can have a huge impact on how desirable it seems.
Likewise, so too can the colors have used in the store listing and various other seemingly random facts.
This all has to do with psychology and a good eCommerce store owner will understand how to utilize this to the fullest effect.
Read on and we’ll look at how eCommerce stores can subtly affect us psychologically to drive more sales.
Contrast refers to the way in which eCommerce stores will purposefully create comparisons between similar products.
One of the ways this works best is when the prices are slightly different.
If you have two similar products but one is significantly more expensive than the other, then placing them next to each other can be a great move.
The reason is simple: when an expensive item is placed next to a cheaper item, this makes it appear even cheaper.
This removes something called ‘buyers’ guilt’ because the buyer can then make the excuse that they’re saving money by buying something cheap (even though they’re still spending more than if they bought nothing at all).
Likewise, though, this can also make them more expensive products appear more desirable to the right kind of customer.
That’s because an expensive product will generally be perceived to be more desirable and this lets people feel like they’re buying the very best product that is the most premium.
And here’s something else smart about using contrast in pricing: it allows you to encourage people to spend a little more than they otherwise would have.
For example, someone might only be willing to spend $10.
Thus, they go to buy your $10 product but then notice the more expensive option for $15 with all the bells and whistles.
They’re only adding $5 to their total spend in order to get the very best… so why not buy?
This can sometimes be enough to convince someone to buy something who normally wouldn’t be willing to spend $15!
It works because you’re increasing the price incrementally which makes it seem like less of a stark increase versus what they were intending on spending.
Another thing to consider is that the small difference appears smaller in relation to the main price.
For example, when an item costs $100, people won’t think twice about spending an extra $5.
However, when an item costs $5 that extra $5 is a 100% hike in the price!
Again, it’s all about changing the way your buyers think and this can have a huge impact on your sales.
Finding Products to Sell In Your Ecommerce Store
If you want to create an eCommerce store, then the first thing you’re going to need to do is deciding precisely what you’re going to sell.
You can’t have a shop without products and thus many people will mistakenly assume that this business model is not available to them.
So, the question then becomes: how do you find products you can sell in your eCommerce store?
Do you need to own a high-street store?
Read on and we’ll look at numerous options available to you and the business models that go with them.
Sell Things You Already Have
One option is to sell products you already have.
This is the best option if you own a high-street store as it means that you can expand your potential market and not have to invest any more money.
Better yet is the fact that many EPOS systems (electronic point of sale) can integrate eCommerce tracking so that you can track all your products through one single system.
Buying and Selling
If you don’t already have inventory though, then you might decide to buy some products that you can sell instead.
This is a strategy that can work well but only as long as you are able to get the products more cheaply than you’re selling them.
Often this will mean buying in wholesale, though there are other strategies you can use as well.
Buying and selling in this way (called ‘reselling’) is actually an easier business to get into than you might originally think.
That’s because you don’t have to buy all your inventory at once and that way risk making a loss.
Instead, order a small number of items initially, then reinvest the profit you make from those into new products.
Keep doing this and you can gradually increase your stock until eventually you have a full store and massive inventory.
Drop shipping is perhaps the ideal business model if you can find sellers that are happy to do this.
Essentially, drop shipping means that you are selling products that you didn’t make but you still don’t have to handle any of the shipment and you still get to have your brand on it.
This is a ‘white label’ service, meaning that your customers don’t need to know that you’re not the one who makes the product.
In some cases, the product can even have your branding on it!
However, you simply pass the orders on to the drop shipper as they come in and that way fulfill the orders.
Another option is to sell digital products.
This is a great option because you don’t need to invest any money and because you will make 100% profit on every sale.
Digital products tend to include ebooks, apps, software and courses.
But just note that it is a specific type of customer who is normally interested in buying digital items.
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How to Write Compelling Store Listings
Selling products on an eCommerce store as opposed to through a sales page is quite different.
On a sales page, you only have one product and you are doing everything you can to make it sound appealing and like a great decision.
In an eCommerce store however, you have multiple products and your aim is more to get your visitors to buy something.
This means it is actually counter-intuitive to make one item sound too perfect, in case it would be easier for you to convince them to buy something else.
It also means you won’t have space or the time to write a massively long diatribe all about the benefits of your one item.
But that said, there are still some similarities between these two modes of selling and there are still some ways in which your sales pitch is going to be similar.
Ultimately, this is still a form of persuasive writing.
So how do you go about effective persuasive writing?
Read on and we’ll look at some good strategies that can help you to ensure your success:
People are in a hurry these days and this is especially true when they’re online.
As a general rule, they simply don’t have time to spend ages sifting through products and if you don’t get to the point quickly, they’re going to look elsewhere.
This is why 99% of product listings get to the point fast by selling those key selling points in a compelling list.
Start with this so that people know what they’re looking at and why they should care.
Then add the additional details further on once you’ve captured their imagination and got them reading.
Sell The Value Proposition
Here is where the most important part comes in: selling the value proposition.
A value proposition explains why a product has value to a buyer and why they should be interested in it.
However, that doesn’t just mean describing the physical properties or the literal value.
Instead, you’re describing the emotional value.
How does this make people’s lives better?
What will life be like for them once they’ve made a purchase?
The old saying goes that you don’t sell hats, you sell warm heads.
Likewise, you don’t sell computers – you sell productivity, ease of use and ultimately a better salary.
Similarly, you don’t sell a make money ebook – you sell wealth, success and a lack of stress that comes from not having to pay bills!
Make Them Visualize It
If you have an eCommerce store selling physical products, then, unfortunately, you won’t be able to let your customers pick up the items and see what they’re like in person.
What you can do though is to help them imagine them and visualize them.
If you listen to someone like Steve Jobs talk about a product in old videos, you’ll notice he always used words like ‘feel’ and ‘touch’.
You want to make the product sound real, tangible and most of all – highly desirable.
Improve Customer Satisfaction for Your Ecommerce Store
If you have an eCommerce store and you are selling products you have bought wholesale, or that you have acquired the rights to, then this puts you in an interesting position.
While you will be running a business and communicating directly with your customers, in many ways their experience is going to be out of your hands.
People will rate your store based to a large degree on how much they enjoy the products they buy – and this means that their satisfaction is in some ways out of your hands.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking there is nothing you can do to differentiate yourself or to help ensure your customers are happy.
There are actually a number of ways in which you can improve or damage the quality of your service, so it’s important to think hard about how you’re going to approach your business.
Here are just some of the things you can do to improve satisfaction:
Over delivering is an interesting idea.
This essentially means that you are going to provide some free value.
A common example you’ll see on Amazon for example is that phone cases will come with free styluses.
A stylus costs very little for the vendor but by including them in the package, they can pleasantly surprise their audience, and this will make a big difference to how happy they are and the review they ultimately end up leaving.
So, you have ‘over-delivery’ and then you have just good old delivery.
This is one part of the experience that is entirely down to you, unless you are drop shipping.
Essentially, it’s your job to make sure that your buyers get their products on time and in the best condition.
Partly this will come down to the carrier you use and partly it will come down to the way you package your item.
Here it’s worth investing a little in good quality packaging just to ensure you always get a positive customer experience.
This is also an excellent opportunity for branding.
Amazon does this particularly well and by including their logo on all of their parcels, they have managed to create an almost Pavlovian response to their own brand.
We feel great when we see those parcels come through the door and now, we associate that feeling with Amazon!
This is also another area where over delivery is a good option: get your items to your buyers sooner than they anticipate and they’ll be very happy indeed.
You can also improve satisfaction by offering the best customer service.
This means offering returns with no questions asked and also going above and beyond the call of duty to improve your service.
You can do the latter by doing things like sending follow up emails to make sure that your customers are happy with what they’ve received.
Another great option?
Just say thank you!
People love feeling valued as customers and this is an excellent way to make sure they feel that way.
Eliminate Risk for Your Customers
Selling products effectively means having a solid understanding of human psychology.
Humans are funny creatures and when they decide to buy something, there can be all kinds of unexpected emotions and thought processes behind the scenes.
Understanding these and tapping into them is the best way to make sure that you encourage people to buy and maximize your sales.
What is Risk Aversion?
One aspect of human psychology that is crucial to your ability to sell is risk aversion.
Risk aversion refers to the simple fact that people don’t like risk.
That might sound obvious but it’s important to recognize just how much people are averse to risk.
In fact, people are inverse to risk to the point that they’ll make very bad decisions.
For example, if you were given the option to enter into a competition where there was a 30% chance you would lose $30 and a 70% chance you would gain $100, there’s a good chance you would not want to enter.
This is despite the fact that it would actually be the smart decision based purely on the statistics.
People hate risk and they would rather maintain the status quo than involve any risk to try and increase their standing.
As a seller, it’s your job to get around this as any transaction will automatically involve some element of risk.
How to Remove Risk
So, with that in mind, how do you go about removing risk as a seller?
The first step of course is to understand just what exactly it is that your buyers are afraid of!
There are a number of things that can potentially go wrong with any transaction and these are the things that your buyers will be worried about.
For example, there is a risk that your product will never show up and they’ll have wasted their money.
There’s a risk that the product won’t be as good as it sounds, and they won’t be getting good value.
And there’s a risk that their money will get stolen because the transaction wasn’t secure.
So how can you remove this risk?
Here are a few ways:
Offer a Free Trial
One easy option is to offer a free trial.
This is a great way to remove risk because the user has the item in their hands and gets to try it before they decide if it’s worth the money.
There’s an old saying that the very best way to sell a puppy is to let the buyer take that puppy home for a week.
By the end of that week, they’ll likely be happy to put down any amount of cash!
Offer a Money-Back Guarantee
A similar strategy is to offer a money back guarantee.
That means that you offer to give the money back with no questions asked.
Most people won’t take you up on the offer but knowing it is there can make a big difference!
The Site Design and Checkout
Finally, make sure that your site design is as professional as possible and that you have a checkout that is secure and ideally recognized by your buyers.
How to Overcome Buyers’ Guilt to Explode Sales
When trying to sell as much as you can from an eCommerce store, there are two ways you can look at it.
On the one hand, you are trying to convince people to want to buy.
At the same time though, you’re also trying to overcome people’s urge not to buy.
This is a subtle difference and something that’s key to understand.
Basically, when someone is thinking of buying something from you, it doesn’t only come down to whether or not they’re interested in the product.
In fact, they can be entirely interested but not want to buy for other reasons.
For example, they might not want to buy because they feel guilty about spending the money.
This is called ‘buyers’ guilt’ and it’s a big part of the psychological dynamics involved in sales.
What is Buyers’ Guilt?
Buyers’ guilt is essentially the guilt that someone might feel when buying a product.
Very often, people will feel guilty about spending money because they know that it could be spent on other things.
But if the buyer is sufficiently interested in the product, they will potentially be able to overcome this guilt.
This is then when they can start debating with themselves whether or not buy.
They end up with a devil and an angel on their shoulder as they try and make excuses for themselves to buy.
Your job as a seller is to make sure that that ‘devil’ wins by removing the guilt so that they feel they can go ahead and buy.
There are a couple of ways you might go about doing this:
Strategies for Removing Guilt
One way to overcome buyers’ guilt is to explain why your product is an investment.
In other words, you need to point out that your item can actually save money.
This might mean that your product is very energy efficient and thereby able to help you spend less money on fuel.
Alternatively, it might mean that your product is going to last a very long time, which means that it won’t need to be replaced.
Finally, it might mean that your product is going to earn the person’s money.
This is why it’s comparatively very easy to sell books about earning money – people are happy to spend that cash initially because they think they will make more money back as a result.
There are other methods you can use too.
One is to make your product ‘good’ for the user.
If you explain that it’s good for their health or for their peace of mind, then they might be able to justify the cost.
Another option is to make the purchase go partly toward a good cause.
Donate a fraction of the profits you make to a charity and this can help you to encourage people to buy.
Finally, another method for removing guilt is to make sure there is very clear money back guarantee.
If you can do this, then you can remove all risk which can otherwise contribute toward guilt.
How to Get Your Customers to Trust You
When you’re trying to sell products through an eCommerce store, one of the biggest challenges you face is trying to overcome the various ‘barriers to sale.’
Barriers to sale are anything that discourages people from buying your products, even though they actually want them and feel that they’re worth the money.
One of the biggest barriers to sale here is the fact that people don’t like inputting their details because it’s a hassle.
You might want to buy something but not have the time or patience to fill out a form – and for that reason, you don’t convert.
One way to overcome this is to use a payment method that doesn’t require any details – such as PayPal.
The other big barrier though is trust.
When people buy from you, they are giving you their details and their address, and they are trusting that the product you’re selling meets the description.
They are trusting that you won’t run off with their details and they’re trusting that your site is safe and secure.
That’s a big ask if you’ve never encountered the customer before and it can be too much of an ask in many cases.
So how do you overcome this issue and get people to trust you enough to bite the bullet?
Here are some of the best strategies:
Make Your Site Look Professional
One of the most straightforward and effective ways to increase trust among your visitors, is to make sure that your site looks professional and modern.
If you’ve ever been to a website that looks like it was made in the GeoCities era, then no doubt you will know how off-putting this can be and it makes it very hard to trust the security of the site or even that the business is still operational!
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Get a Security Badge
There are a number of companies that offer to perform security checks on websites and to provide a ‘badge’ or ‘seal’ that you can display if you pass.
This is then used to communicate to your visitors that your site is safe to shop on.
Don’t spend a lot of money on this though: these seals vary in quality and a lot of customers won’t put much stock in them (what’s to prevent you creating your own seal?).
But if you can find a cheap and well-recognized one, then it doesn’t hurt.
Use a Recognized Payment Processor
People will feel much more comfortable buying through PayPal than they will be filling out a form to give you their details.
Have Cheap Items for Sale
If you’re trying to sell a big-ticket item, then you’re creating a lot more risk for them.
They’ll worry that you might never keep up your side of the bargain and they’ll lose all their money.
A way around this is to sell them a cheaper item first.
This way they can check that you’re true to your word in a much safer capacity and then only decide to spend more once you’ve proven yourself.
How to Photograph Your Products to Make Them Looks Enhanced
If you’re selling physical products from an eCommerce store, then you will find that you have a number of specific advantages and disadvantages when compared with a real-life store.
And something that is definitely a disadvantage is that your customers can’t pick up your products and try them for themselves.
Many people will be against the idea of buying something without first getting to actually pick it up and hold it because it will appear to involve too much risk.
At the same time, letting people pick up your product and actually hold it in their hands is a very powerful way to increase desire.
When someone picks something up, they create a much more vivid memory and they can actually imagine what it would be like to own it.
Conversely, when you’re left with just a description, it is not particularly visceral or convincing.
Your job as a seller then is to try and find ways around these limitations.
And one way you can do this is to make sure that you have amazing and vivid photographs that show your product in the best possible light and increase that sense of desire in your customers.
What’s more is that having a lot of high-quality images on your site can help to improve the professionalism of your store and make it look more like a good place to shop.
Here are some tips to help you do that:
Invest in a Good Camera
If you are going to be taking lots of photos of products for a website, then investing in a good camera is a very good idea.
This will ensure that you can create high-quality images in crisp detail, and it will make a big difference to professionalism.
Use the Best Lighting
The best photographs will include great lighting which can make them look brighter, shinier and newer.
Also important is to make sure that the lighting is high contrast, which will help the item look that bit glossier and magazine like.
Think about where the light source is when you take the photograph and aim to have the light coming from one side to create dynamic shadows.
It can also help to slightly turn up the contrast, which is a technique used by most magazines and catalogs.
Create a Backdrop
If you take a photo of a laptop in your kitchen, then it will hardly look professional and the clutter is going to distract from the main focus of the image.
Instead then, try to create a professional-looking backdrop which should ideally be a simple white canvas that you can place your item against.
Choose Dynamic Angles
Don’t just take photos of your product from head-on.
Choose different angles to try and show it from all sides and to make it look all the more appealing.
At the same time, make sure that these angles convey all the information your buyers will need.
It can also help to show your product in relation to other items so that they can get a sense of scale etc.
How to Use POS (Point Of Sale) to Sell More Products
When you visit an eCommerce store such as Amazon, you probably don’t give all that much thought to the layout.
Instead, you’ll probably just look for the product you want and then click buy.
But while you might not give it much thought, the designers that work at Amazon will have given it hours and hours of extensive thought.
That’s because the layout of a store can make a huge difference in how likely you are to buy, and it can influence you in ways you might not expect.
One example of a tricky layout technique that store owners use is something called ‘POS.’
Let’s take a look at what this is and how it works:
What is POS?
POS stands for ‘Point Of Sale’.
Specifically, this refers to the physical point at which the sale is completed.
If you’re in a real shop, then that point is going to be the checkouts, and this will include the queue leading up the checkouts.
Now, if you think back to the last time you found yourself in that position (queuing to buy), then you may recall that there were probably items for sale on display there and that these were advertised quite prominently.
The places where these are promoted are referred to as ‘point of sale displays’ and they will most often include cheaper items like chocolate bars, small gifts or cheap jewelry.
You can mimic this same exact thing in an eCommerce store.
The only difference is that instead of being a display in a queue, your point of sale offer is going to be any item that is promoted on the page where the visitors would normally enter their card details and click buy.
Why POS Items Work So Well
So, what is the idea behind this?
Why is this such a popular strategy that it is found both in real stores and on the web?
The answer is that POS items are ideal for upselling and encouraging buyers to slightly increase the amount of money they’re spending.
The reason for this is that POS points help you sell after you’ve overcome the main barriers to sale.
A barrier to sale is anything that puts people off of getting their wallet out when they actually want to buy the product.
The most common barriers here are trust, guilt and hassle.
It’s a hassle to get out your wallet and enter your details, it’s worrying handing over your card details to any website and you probably feel guilty about spending the money.
But when you get to the checkout, this means that you’ve already input those details, you’ve already opted to spend the money and you’ve decided to trust the company.
So then what is an extra $2 in order to get a nice extra bonus?
For this reason, it becomes much easier to convince someone to buy something at the POS – as long as it is a cheap item and as long as it still offers real value!