feature

It’s that time of year and yes we know you probably have a ton of personal resolutions revolving around health, fitness, relationships, and self-fulfillment, but let’s take a moment to shed some light on what you could focus on to improve your business. 

Maybe you've already started, which puts you ahead of the curve, but for everyone else who’s curious about putting together some goals for their online store, we thought we’d put together this handy list. Feel free to pick and choose your favorites and focus on the ones that matter most to your business.

So, let’s start with “As a ecommerce entrepreneur, you resolve to…”

1. Refresh Your Product Photography

Here’s a fun fact for you, a recent study demonstrated that larger product images can increase online sales by up to 9%, and that’s just the size of the images we’re talking about. From lower bounce rates to visitors browsing multiple product pages and spending more time on them, beautiful product photography can be an ecommerce game changer.

You’ll want to consider things like the background, lighting, color that you're using as well as how your product is portrayed in real-life scenarios to avoid losing sales just because of your photography. Then there’s optimizing images and product pages to make them more searchable, shareable, and attractive. Have a look at the Greats Brand's product pages to see what we mean. Not only do they do a great job of showcasing their footwear, but they also go so far as to show what's inside their sneakers.

Lastly, think about about increasing the quantity of images you show on a product page to flaunt your wares from more than one perspective. We also strongly suggest incorporating user-generated images taken with services like Instagram using a tool like Olapic. That way not only do you demonstrate social proof, but you then give browsers insight into how your product looks like on a real-life customer, which in turn enables them to envision it on themselves.

2. Segment Your Mailing List 

If you’re like most businesses, chances are more often than not that you end up sending the exact same email to every single contact on your mailing list. If you take a moment to reflect, you’ll end up realizing that doing so is probably no better than sending out a direct mail campaign and gauging success based on how many coupons were used or how many surveys were filled out.

That’s just not going to cut it. If there’s one things people hate about their inbox, it’s the amount of irrelevant email they get from a list they have no idea they had signed up to. Also, consider the diversity of subscribers in your list, there’s prospective customers, existing customers, new customers, and former customers.

Each one deserves a unique and tailored email strategy and that’s just the start. You’ll soon find yourself with the ability to segment based on things like customer type, interests, location, and so much more. So stop spamming and start segmenting, trust us, it’ll be worth it’s weight in gold. Have a look at Nordstrom's segmented email sent to only their male customers below.

 

3. Nail Your Unique Selling Proposition 

This is the equivalent to answering the age-old question “Who am I?”, except, when you do it for your business, you end up building really strong branding and content that showcases what sets you apart from your competition. That’s what a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is all about, giving you that edge to sustain your business in the short-term and thrive in the long-run. 

This could be anything from your product, origin story, value statement, manufacturing process, shipping or return policy, pricing, or design. Really reflect on how you want to be known and anchor that desire with something that you feel can be a cornerstone foundation for your brand. One of our favourite USPs has to be that of Huit Denim Co., a jeans brand that prides itself on the history of its city. 

4. Optimize Your Transaction Emails

This can really be “outside-the-box” thinking for online store owners who view email marketing as consisting of just newsletters and sending out coupon codes. However, in reality, every single email that you send to a prospective, existing, or previous customer has the potential to be optimized for sales conversion and value creation. 

Which emails are we talking about here? Everything from your shopping cart abandonment email, order confirmation email, shipping confirmation email, and customer feedback emails - all of them have the potential with the right amount of thought to be a major online marketing tool for your business. Have a look at how BarkBox optimizes it's shipping confirmation email with a solid call-to-action.

 

5. Use Social Media to Drive Engagement

We’re sure this was on your to-do list already, but we thought we’d mention it anyway. Why? Because it’s really important to shift the focus on using social media as a “sales and marketing” tool and seeing distinct platforms as engagement tools with the goals of increasing sales indirectly. Engagement means dancing around your product and services with helpful, insightful, and relevant content that nudges prospective customers to try you out and gives existing customers a reason to evangelize you. 

There’s plenty of starting points on getting going with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, however, make sure to focus on the platforms that are the most meaningful for you and your target audience. Narrow your efforts and you’ll be sure to see the fruit of your labour. Have a look at how Free People gets it's customers involved through adding their Instagram photos to their product pages. 

 

6. Leverage Analytics to Dissect What Works

Hopefully by now you’ve gotten a few months of history online. That’s a tremendous amount of data to leverage and take advantage of using tools like Google Analytics to see what worked and what didn’t when it came to customer conversion.

 

This is also a great opportunity to rethink your ecommerce key performance indicators (kpi’s) and use tools like Optimizely or Unbounce to experiment with A/B testing and getting all your pages up to par. Do that and you’ll be sure to knock 2014 out the ballpark. 

7. Be Responsive and Accessible on Any Device

With more than 60 percent of U.S. mobile phone users owning a smartphone and nearly 41% using their mobile device to make a purchase, having a mobile-friendly website is a must. These days, ignoring smartphones and tablets means leaving money on the table. Not to mention hearing from disgruntled and previously interested visitors annoyed at how difficult it is to get around your site. 

If you need more convincing, US retail mobile commerce alone increased 81% in 2012 to a grand total of roughly $25 billion. But before you start panicking and scrambling to figure out how you’re going to do it, Shopify’s got you covered with our growing number of responsive storefront themes.  Here's a great example, the Atlantic Theme.

8. Sell Everywhere

Being happy with just selling online means you’re potentially missing out on finding, connecting, and selling to customers who are dying to hear about your brand and buy your products. Maybe not exactly, but being a single-channel seller is so 2012 ;) 2014 and beyond will be the year of omni-channel retail, meaning you should be being willing to sell anywhere and everywhere that there’s customers willing to pay you for your products.

Luckily for you, that’s exactly what we’re about here at Shopify, and with additions to our software family that include the likes of Shopify POS and Shopify Mobile, we’re out to equip you with everything you need to sell online, in-store, and everywhere in between. 

Hopefully, these get you started on the road to a prosperous year ahead. What resolutions are you going to keep? Or are there ones that you made for yourself that you think other online store owners should adopt? Be sure to let us know by commenting below. 

Oh, and Happy Selling in 2014.