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How Do I Improve My Online Store's Conversion Rates? Our expert explains how to increase sales conversions on your online eCommerce store.

By Erna Basson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Ecommerce has taken over the world, and South Africa is no exception. Online retail in South Africa stands at a total of R14 billion. With such big sales numbers, how is it even possible for you to not get a piece of the pie?

Here's the not so good news: If you haven't built a website that is optimised for conversion and customer experience, your sales will get lost. It's that simple. If people can't find you, you can't sell to them, and if they do find you but your website is difficult to navigate, you can't sell to them either.

The good news is that these are fixable problems.

Creating leads before you can convert them

As an online store owner myself, I know the importance of having a website that converts clients into sales, even while you sleep. To achieve this, your main focus should be two things:

  1. Create a lead
  2. Convert that lead into a customer

A lead is created when you receive customer information, specifically an email address. There are a few ways that you can achieve this with a pop up:

  • Offer your prospective customer a discount code in exchange for their email address
  • Offer free information for your niche – remember this needs to create curiosity for your prospect
  • A fun and interactive quiz, in which your prospect can only receive their results in exchange for their email address
  • A high-quality eBook or white paper that specifically relates to their industry, which can only be downloaded in exchange for a name and email address

Once you receive your lead, it's time to convert that lead into a customer. Keep in mind that 80% of sales are closed in the follow up. This is even true of online stores. Follow up with emails, re-targeted ads on social media, digital re-targeting and so on. Just ensure you stay top-pf-mind with your prospects and customers.

Related: How Frost Popsicles Has Gone From Startup To Successful Retail Brand

There are a few ways you can achieve this:

  • Add your new lead into your nurturing email sequence, remembering the 3 to 1 rule: Deliver value in three emails and on the fourth offer them something
  • Re-target your prospects with social media ads. Depending on where your ideal clients are "hanging out', you should ensure that you have a Facebook pixel installed on your website (this is to track user activity on your website). Your goal is to stay top of mind. Create three to four different ads that overcome possible objections and address customer challenges and interests with creative ad artwork. It's all about grabbing (and maintaining) attention

8 Ways To Increase eCommerce Conversion Rates

Now that we have covered the two basic elements of creating and nurturing leads, here are 8 tips on how you can increase your sales conversion rates on your eCommerce website:

  1. Use an online eCommerce platform. This is absolutely critical. We use Shopify, the world's largest eCommerce platform. The biggest benefit of Shopify is that you can have your website up and running within a few days, with zero tech experience. You can also plug and play so many different apps, all of which will help your website increase conversions.
  2. Give several payment options. If you are only offering one payment option, you are losing out on sales. Always ensure you have Paypal as an option as well, as this gives the purchaser buyer protection and will increase your conversions. Remember, your client is always thinking in the back of their mind – "Is this website legit, or will I get scammed? Will I get what I ordered?" Well-known payment portals give your site a degree of legitimacy and comfort for your shoppers.
  3. Free shipping. This is an absolute must. Offering free shipping and showcasing it straight out on your home page will count hugely in your favour. In order to offer free shipping, just work the amount into your cost of product and increase your selling price (if you can), or negotiate a lower buying price with your courier company.
  4. FAQ section on your product pages. This is your opportunity to answer every objection that your client is thinking. Remember, people are always looking for reasons not to do business with you, so use this opportunity to your advantage and show them that your product or service will solve their problems.
  5. Testimonials and Reviews. Here's the thing, you can tell as many people as you want how amazing your product or service is, but there is no greater power than other people saying how amazing your company is. Make sure that those testimonials and reviews are easily visible on your website. Don't be shy to ask customers for testimonials either – if they're received top-quality service, they will be happy to sing your praises. (And if you can't find anyone to give you a testimonial, perhaps you should be taking a closer look at your offering and service levels).
  6. Cart Abandonment Emails. Again, 80% of sales are done in the follow up. When people are adding products to their carts and don't complete the purchase, a cart abandonment email sequence must follow. You can send three different emails in the space of 48 hours to save the deal. Your first email can contain a discount with urgency; your second email can answer more questions; and your third email can include a discount with a bonus offer.
  7. Facebook ads re-targeting. Have you ever felt like you are being followed on Facebook by websites you have visited recently? This is re-targeting, achieved via a Facebook pixel (a piece of coding that tracks user behaviour on your website). Your Facebook pixel is one of the most powerful tools that you can use, as you can show different ads to different people depending on where they left your website – How cool is that?
  8. Customer Service. Nothing says "I appreciate your business' like excellent customer service. As a business owner, you should be obsessed with customer service.

Pulling it all together

2019 is an amazing opportunity for anyone to join the online store community and really make an impact in the eCommerce world.

As long as you stay focused on solving the problems or challenges that your clients are facing and you have a desire to learn new things every day, an exciting journey awaits you in the eCommerce landscape.

Related: 7 South African Entrepreneurs Who Went From Nothing To Global Success

Erna Basson

Entrepreneur, Business Coach and International Keynote Speaker

Erna Basson an award-winning serial entrepreneur, business coach and international keynote speaker. She is well-known for starting, growing and selling companies and her passion is to help people become entrepreneurs so that they too can achieve and live their dream. She is the Founder of Erabella Beauty , a premium hair extensions and haircare brand. Find out more here: Ernabasson.com

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