You’ve done it.
You’ve opened an e-commerce store! You have carefully selected your products.
You’ve posted on your Facebook page that your store is open and then…. You wait.
You refresh your Shopify app ten times waiting for your first e-commerce sale to come in.
You check to make sure your website is actually working.
You count the likes on your Facebook post and you want to reply back to everyone who has commented, “Thanks for the heart emoji, Aunt Susie, but can you just buy something?!”
But before you give up on your entire e-commerce business dreams, let’s back up and bit and make sure you have all your marketing in place so that you can make your first e-commerce sale.
Follow This Checklist to Make Your First E-Commerce Sale
There’s a little bit of a myth that starting an e-commerce business is a way to make instant cash. While it can be lucrative, building an e-commerce store takes some time so don’t be stressed if you’re not making six figures within two months!
You can make your first e-commerce store sale relatively quickly so let’s talk about some ways you can increase your chances of a sale and start hearing that cash register sound.
1. Test Your Check Out Process
Testing your check out process is an essential first step to getting those sales. Abandoned shopping carts at check out are extremely normal in e-commerce. Online shoppers abandon their carts 70% of the time but there are some things that can be done to decrease this.
Is your check out mobile optimized? 50% of people shop on their mobile phones and if your check out process is difficult on mobile, it could be costing you sales!
Do you require people to create an account when checking out? You want the checkout process to be as painless as possible. Do some user experience checks to make sure the process is as seamless as it can be.
2. Review Your Product Descriptions
After you have looked at your check out page, take a look at your product pages. Do they accurately show off the product you are selling? 88% of consumers say detailed product content is extremely important to their purchasing decisions.
We know that you know your product is great but remember, online buyers are purchasing something without getting their hands on it or seeing it up close. Since your store is a new store and doesn’t have reviews, you’ll need to really sell the product through its product page.
Be sure you’ve provided enough information in the description, including material, sizing, care instructions and return policies. Check that your photos are professional and flattering. If you have a video of the product, you may want to add that to the page. This product page from e-commerce store Peak Design is a perfect example of a well-designed product page. They have plenty of descriptive text, multiple photos, a video, and relevant awards and press mentions.
If your check out and product pages look great and your still not seeing sales in your business, then you may want to offer a discount to get that first sale. You don’t want people always expecting discounts so the trick is to make it clear this is a limited time only offer.
You could offer a sale for the first 20 purchases or for the next 24 hours only. That sense of urgency really encourages people to start pulling out their wallets!
Additionally, you can offer free shipping for a limited time. 43% of shoppers will abandon their cart if shipping costs are too high so try discounting shipping to see if it entices more buyers.
4. Set Up Email Marketing
Starting e-commerce sales is extra difficult if you don’t have the right marketing tools in place. Your personal Facebook page is fine, as is your personal email account, but there are more ways to market your online products.
Let’s start with an email marketing platform. Email marketing has a 3,800% ROI.
That means for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you make $38 in return. So if you don’t have an email marketing platform set up, it’s time to get one!
The most popular platforms for beginners are MailChimp, Aweber, and GetResponse. These are relatively inexpensive when you are first getting started and most allow for free trials. If you are a Shopify user, you can search the app store for email marketing apps. Most of these are free to test.
What do you do with an email platform? Well first, you’ll want to collect emails. The easiest way to do this is to offer a discount code in exchange for an email address. It’s not required to offer a discount code but most people are private with their email addresses and if they are going to hand them over, there needs to be an exchange of value. Even if you don’t offer a discount code, you may want to offer something in return or at least the promise of future sales or promotions.
Once you have email addresses you can start sending new product emails, sale emails and new information about your store. This way you can stay in touch with your store visitors.
5. Use Social Media
After you have set up your email marketing, it’s time to look at your social media. It’s essential that you have branded professional social media channels.
We recommend starting with either a Facebook or Instagram page for your e-commerce store because they are highly visual mediums, which is ideal for e-commerce marketing. The stats prove it too! 70% of Instagram users learn about a product on Instagram and 75% take an action such as visiting a website after seeing an Instagram post.
The best way to use social media marketing is to create a community, not to directly sell. For your e-commerce business, you want to practice sharing content that is related to your products but does not directly sell to them. It’s important you understand who you’re selling to and focus on your ideal audience.
Look at how the beauty subscription box Ipsy mixes up its content. They share plenty of product photos and promotional posts but they also share content that their female millennial audience enjoys like inspirational quotes.
Use hashtags to find your target audience on Instagram. For example, if you sell handmade jewelry to moms and grandmothers, search hashtags such as #momliferocks or #legitmomstyle.
If you sell athletic gear to sports fans, try searching professional team name hashtags or #sportsfan tag. The hashtagify app can help you find hashtags relevant to your products.
6. Reach Out To Influencers
After you are set up on social, you may want to try reaching out to influencers to get that first sale.
Influencer marketing is a tactic where brands engage influencers including Instagrammers, YouTubers, bloggers, athletes or celebrities to promote their products through sponsored posts, videos or reviews. Influencer marketing delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional digital marketing because people tend to trust other individuals over brands and businesses.
Some influencers charge for these types of services but other, smaller or newer micro-influencers will often trade promotion for free products. You don’t have to go after celebrities to see success. Focus on influencers who reach your target audience, whether that’s a blogger, Youtuber or Instagrammer.
Below you can see how Silk Almond milk partnered with food blogger Emilie Eats to reach her audience of health and nutrition fans.
7. Experiment with Advertising
Finally, if you are really ready to make some sales, try testing Facebook or Instagram ads.
These ads tend to be a little bit easier to get started with over Google Adwords and they can be incredibly effective.
With Facebook and Instagram ads, you can target individuals with similar interests to your product or your existing followers. If you want to get advanced, you can use a Facebook pixel to target customers who have visited your store.
This is called “retargeting” and it’s a huge opportunity for new e-commerce stores. With retargeting, 26% of shoppers will return to complete their purchase.
There you have it! With these tactics, you are now truly ready for your first e-commerce sale.
The first sale often feels like the toughest one. As soon as it comes in, celebrate it and just remember that it is the first of many!