You just might be, but luckily it’s never too late to improve. Ever since the dawn of the interwebz shopping experience, the holiday mayhem has seen a gradual decrease in brick-and-mortar revenues, contrasted by an increase in cyber sales. This year was no exception: Thanksgiving Day saw a 25% jump in online sales, Black Friday and Cyber Monday together averaged 15% increases. But focusing on specific days has itself even become outdated—the Adobe Digital Index calculated $3 billion in sales on Monday, but a whopping $11 billion in sales from the whole weekend prior to.
What does this all mean?
It means shoppers as a whole are beginning to realize that they can find even better selection and better deals, all while not having to camp out in front of a store, freeze half to death, or even put pants on. The trap some web-based retailers may fall into is assuming that this makes the holiday season some sort of freebie spike in sales, so long as they offer some decent discounts or free shipping.
Unfortunately, this is NOT the case. But why?
Alright, it’s time for some self-reflection. Here comes a big ol’ pill that might sting a bit going down: unless you’re in a small niche market selling something like bacon-flavored vodka (no, I’m not making that up), you probably aren’t bringing anything groundbreaking to the table. Sure, you’ve got a good site template, decent content born out of many coffee-fueled late nights, and have all your keywords and meta tags in order. The only problem is… so do all of your competitors. They’re offering similar products at similar prices, and they may even promote similar deals.
So what is a small online store to do if they want to stand out amongst the big dogs?
Here comes the obligatory “there’s no one solution to turning browsers into buyers:” You see, there’s no one solution to turning browsers into buyers.
There are certain factors that come into play more than others, and a big one for online shoppers is trust. I’m not just referring to convincing people you won’t rip them off; users need to feel confident that the business they are dealing with is efficient, professional, and prepared to handle any problems that inevitably arise with entrusting a third party mailing service to deliver a product (not to mention handle your credit card info). This is especially true for time sensitive periods like the holiday season, when you are expected to operate in a tight timeframe.
Here are some tips for generating trust if you have a relatively small or non-existent customer base:
- Use part of your About Us page to talk about your physical location. Include pictures of things like your physical building, your workshop/manufacturing area, and your employees. Feature fun or interesting bios of yourself and your team. This makes you seem less abstract in the minds of new visitors.
- If you work from home or out of an apartment, and you don’t think that fact would improve your brand (consider your target market and if they would appreciate a more “down-to-earth” seller), or if you don’t want to publicly post your personal address, get a P.O. box through a private service like UPS so that you’re more likely to be “located” near an industrial district or shopping center.
- There are certain seals of approval like SSL’s and safety guarantees that go a long way to making your customers feel like they are buying from someone they can trust.
- Easy methods of contact. An active phone line is a must, but live chat is something even more unique that can reassure your users that you’ll be in touch with them should they have any questions or concerns. There are plenty of apps available for this function.
- Social media is your friend, and I’m not just talking about buying ads. Interact with your Facebook fans, re-tweet your Twitter followers. Share funny links and pictures! As strange as it sounds, it’s because stoic professionalism has become less and less popular with mainstream culture. People want real life, they want to feel like they’re doing business with an actual person.
Now I’m not going to promise that implementing these things will yield you triple conversions by the day after tomorrow, but you’ll definitely be surprised by how much subtle confidence-boosters can do wonders for your store.