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Expert Advice
For Success in Ecommerce
Our team of Ecommerce experts outline effective strategies for increasing and optimising your sales!
How can you determine the success of your online store? How can you establish whether your marketing strategy is paying off? Which channels are working for business? Here are just a few of the questions that etailers need to ask themselves in order to measure success and readjust their strategies for high performing ecommerce site. Numbers are your friends . . . learn to love them and keep in mind, "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it!"

For every entrepreneur, developing a sustainable online business is a great goal, and a gage of success. It's time to increase your margins by analysing your stats. Our ecommerce experts will outline some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you should set and manage, to give you real insights into your online business.

Implement these 5 KPIs and measure your success!
Things to keep in mind:
1. If you can't measure it, you can't manage it!
2. Conversion rate, abandoned cart rate and return rate, are stats you should be measuring regularly.
3. Analysing your site stats from your back office will help you make adjustments to benefit your sales.
4. Your conversion rate shows the number of visitors that place an order, compared to those site visitors who 'window shop!'
5. Acquisition costs (CAC) need to be a fine balance between your marketing spend and the profits your new clients bring in.

5 indicators for boosting your sales figures!

01 Conversion Rate
Your conversion rate is your buddy, it tells you how much of your traffic is turned into sales. The market averages are 2% for B2C and 7.5% for B2B. Aim for this, and higher!

What to do if you have a weak conversion rate?
Here are 3 tactics you can adopt to boost your conversion rate:

1. Attract quality traffic
Quality traffic means you're attracting people that want to buy your products or services and this means higher conversion rates and lower bounce rates. Check which of the channels you are using are bringing in the best traffic. You can also, use Adword campaigns to target buyers, work on your organic keywords, launching competitions can boost quality traffic from social media and don't forget to keep on blogging! Less is more if your visitors are buying and not just passing through!

2. Adapt your strategy to the current market
Have you researched the market and your competition? Are your products up to date? Keep an eye open for changes in your sector so that you can be sure you're offering your clients the latest, meeting their expectation and keeping up with current trends. Don't hesitate to use customer satisfaction surveys to make sure your keeping your clients happy. Keep them short and to the point and you'll get some great feedback which can be used to improve your offers.

3. Optimise your site structure
Your site needs a fluid buying tunnel, to streamline visitors through the catalogue and check out process. Finding the products you want, quickly and easily, being presented with all the relevant info (product details, shipping fees, payment options, etc.) without having to hunt it down, or receiving a nasty surprise after filling your cart, are all important user experience steps that convert visitors into buyers.
02 Shopping Cart Stats
After filling their cart, your visitor abandons it, without as much as 'Dear John' letter! According to the Baymard Institute the latest average abandonment rate (8/5/15) is 68.53%. Measuring your cart abandonment rate gives you indicators about where you need to improve your buying tunnel to facilitate the buyers journey.

What to do about a high abandonment rates?

1. Facilitate the buying journey
According to a study by Forrester Research, 23% of buyers abandon their carts when it comes to creating an account. So make sure that the process is quick and easy so your visitors don't lose their buying motivation. Too many fields to fill in, is one of the main reasons people abandon their carts. Throughout the buying process make sure the customer can easily access a breakdown of their buys.
2.Integrate trust elements throughout the buying tunnel
Confidence is key to lowering abandonment rates. Make sure your contact details, payment and delivery methods, secure payment symbols and so on, are clearly visible throughout the buying process. Showing shipping fees is also a way of reassuring visitors and ensuring that they don't get a shock that'll make them drop their basket! ;)

3. If at first you don't succeed . .
Try, try, again! So you didn't get the sale the first time, you can, nevertheless, have another shot at snagging that client's order! Automatic emails, promo codes, free shipping available until midnight, are all great ways of enticing the visitor back to complete their buys. You can send these options out, a few hours after the cart was abandoned or a couple of days later, whichever you choose, these techniques can help increase your conversions.

Average Order Value (AOV)

How much are your clients spending on your site? How much is each sale really worth to you? To answers these questions, there are two indicators to bare in mind, the average order value and the margin generated. These two elements have an impact on your profitability. The aim here is to promote high averages orders that will give you enough of a margin to cover your customer acquisition costs.

What can you do to boost your average order value? Start by looking at the amounts spent in each product category. If certain categories of products generate higher shopping cart values then you can use this to your advantage in your next marketing campaign.

Up-selling and cross-selling are also vital strategies for increasing your AOV. Offer your customers complementary products, to those which they're buying, i.e. if they've bought a computer screen, offer to add an HDMI cable, in case they may have forgotten to accessorize!
03 Returns Rate
Are your clients satisfied? The returns rate represents the number of orders returned and/or reimbursed, in regards to your total orders received. The is a vital stat that helps you establish what problems you may have with certain products, why people aren't satisfied and have returned their buys. You can then make the adjustments necessary to lower your returns rate. Whilst we're on the topic of returns, make sure your returns policy is clear and accessible, this is one of the original bugbears for online shoppers, so don't fall foul to it. According to data collected by Summit, around 60% of fashion returns are due to products being the wrong size, so if you sell in this sector make sure you add measurements as well as standard sizing options.
What you can do about a high returns rate?
Here are 3 quick tips for reducing your returns rate:

1. Meticulous product details
Make sure your products details are clear and precise, your buyers can't touch, smell or taste the products online so your descriptions need to cover all of the above! Technical info, stock levels and special offers are also important to highlight. The name of the game is to give enough detail so that when the buyer receives their delivery they get exactly what they expected.

2. Clear product images
One of the characteristics, if not THE characteristic of a great product description is the photo or image. High quality images are a vital necessity, multiple angles and zoom are also pretty handy for giving the potential buyer a good look at your goods! If you need to change you photos, then don't forget to optimise them, so you don't slow down your site load time with large files.

3. Perfect packaging
Make sure your products are properly packaged. Receiving your eagerly awaited order, only to find it's arrived in a million little pieces, is guaranteed to upset most people! Ensure fragile goods are properly protected, and make sure that, even if the outer packaging of your parcel gets a little ripped the goodies inside won't be damaged or dirtied. These fail safes will have a direct impact on your returns rate.
04 Client acquisition costs (CAC)
Bringing clients to your estore isn't free! Sometimes they'll gravitate naturally, thanks to your organic SEO efforts, and sometimes you'll need to use a variety of methods to bring them to your store; Adwords, newsletters, sponsored links on social media, etc. The CAC is established by dividing the number of orders made on your ecommerce site by the total amount spent on generating traffic.

How to lower your acquisition costs
If your CAC is too high in regards to your average cart value, the first step is to check your marketing campaigns are reaching the right target audience.

Next, try out new channels to see if they'll bring in more traffic; marketplaces and price comparison sites are a good place to start. With Actinic's Smartfeeds, you can mange your sales on price comparison sites from your back office, with full campaign tracking and statistics.

You should also test your email sending lists and organise a competition on social media.

Finally, work on customer retention and loyalty. Keeping hold of the clients that you already have, will save you spending more on finding new ones!
05 Repeat buys
If acquiring new clients is an ongoing mission, retention is a life's work! A satisfied client is more likely to come back for more, and loyal clients cost 5 times less than acquiring new clients!

What's more, happy clients are more likely to recommend you to others.
Loyalty - how to win over your customers

> In order to retain clients, the first thing to do is offer them a smooth and efficient buying tunnel. User experience is key to customer satisfaction and if your site is slick and simple to use consumers will be happy to use it again, and again, and . . ! Of course, you need to follow up afterwards, with timely deliveries, quality products and fast responding customer service.

> Loyalty programs and reward schemes are an effective tactic for customer retention, Actinic offers some great loyalty programs and reward schemes. You can also send email campaigns that offer your regular clients exclusive deals, make them feel special!

> Having a presence on social media is pretty much de rigueur these days. When it comes to customer loyalty they also come in very handy, for competitions, special offers and giving your community the feeling that you're looking out for them and that they'll be the first to know when you have new products or deals for them.

Throughout your eccomerce journey, you need to manage your KPIs to really be able to get the best out of your business. To have a global view of how far you've come and what needs fine tuning in order to go even further. When you first start out you're focused on managing the customer experience and optimising the purchase tunnel. As your site develops you have other metrics to consider in order to boost sales and eclipse the competition. Numbers are your allies in strengthening your site's performance, don't hesitate to use them!

Now, it's over to you!