– By Craig MacCallum, CEO of Optiseller. Optiseller was shortlisted in the 2021 SaaS Awards program in the category Best SaaS Product for E-Commerce/E-Shops. 

The events of the last 18-24 months have accelerated the shift to online shopping that was already in full swing for e-commerce. Sellers have either moved their businesses online or expanded their operations around the new market demand. It is also apparent that this change is here to stay, which is great news for the stores who have built their business model around this new age of e-commerce.

However, with increase in demand, there is a surge in competition:

  • eBay alone identified over 100,000 ‘pandemic start-ups’ in 2020.
  • To put their success into perspective, these companies have so far sold over 72 million items to shoppers on eBay, which equates to a massive 29 million in revenue (eBay UK, July 2021).
  • At the same time, Shopify saw a 71% increase in new stores on their site in the second quarter of 2020. There is no doubt that the pandemic played a major role in the growth of all online selling platforms.

If you sell online and are fortunate enough to have benefitted from this surge in sales, you need to start looking ahead to the impact of the shift back to ‘normality’. While the e-commerce boom looks to be here to stay, many customers will be looking to embrace the new freedoms the whole world has been working towards and get back to physical stores.

There is a chance that the e-commerce demand could decline for a time, but the number of companies who have spent the last year and a half adapting to an e-commerce model will remain the same. In fact, it may well increase, as sellers realize that the barriers to selling online are easier to overcome than anticipated. To stand out from this growing competition, you need to optimize your store to gain online visibility and improve the customer experience.

Putting data at the heart of optimizing e-commerce

If you have worked with Optiseller before, you will know that we put data at the heart of everything we do: we build our tools to harness data and preach its importance to clients. This is for good reason. Our extensive experience in e-commerce has taught us that data is the key to online success. If you’re keen to continue to grow your sales, or if you want to be in a better position to fight the vast competition out there, optimizing your listings to make them more easily findable may well be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Another aspect of optimizing your data has to do with the way marketplaces work. Marketplaces want to ensure the loyalty of their regular customers. This involves putting policies in place to guarantee sellers are providing the best shopping experience for buyers. Ignoring these policies may result in penalties for sellers, such as being unable to re-list or dropping from search results. For example, eBay have regular mandates to ensure that all relevant item specifics or attributes of a product are correctly populated.

Keen to know more about data optimization for e-commerce? These are the main areas to focus on if you want to see a real pick up in sales and marketplace visibility.

Item specifics on your online store

This is a key element of any successful online store. Item specifics are the key attributes of a product, often hosted in the filters of the marketplace results page. Commonly used item specifics are:

  • Brand
  • Size
  • Type
  • Color
  • Style

For customers, it makes the shopping experience easier, as well as more leisurely: let’s not forget that many people turned to online shopping to replace hobbies they couldn’t access during lockdown, so taking the necessary steps to make online browsing an enjoyable experience is increasingly important.

Item specifics don’t just play a vital part in improving the shopping experience. Because the listings that optimize item specifics provide more detailed information, customers are more likely to keep the product, which lowers the returns rate. What’s even more interesting, products with populated item specifics have an increased conversion rate. According to eBay, “women’s dress listings with item specifics ‘Style’ and ‘Dress Length’ filled in sell on average 81% better than those without”.

Customer trust is essential, now more than ever. With more stores available, there is more skepticism and uncertainty on the legitimacy of a seller. Therefore, the more information you put out there for the customer, the more likely they will be to put their trust in your product over your competition. 

Listing titles: the first thing an online buyer sees

A good shopping experience is critical to maximizing sales online

Listing titles are the first thing a buyer will see, so making sure that the title best reflects your product is vital to attracting views to your listings. We recommend sellers to maximize the number of characters they have available.

The key is to make the title as descriptive as possible whilst also including keywords.

Remember: never use acronyms. Full words ensure people will understand exactly what you are selling, which will reduce customer enquiries, boost conversions and lower your returns.

Next: product description

Product descriptions can make or break a sale. This is where you must put yourself in the shoes of the customer and think about what information they would require to confidently make a purchase.

It is your chance to establish trust with a buyer and manage expectations to ensure that the item that turns up is exactly as expected. However, avoid making the information too ‘spammy’.

Clear and concise descriptions will perform better, and if they are suitable for shopping from a mobile device, this will make all the difference: according to TechJury, mobiles account for over 67.2% of all e-commerce traffic.  

Online shopping product images

A clean and clear image will attract traffic to your item. If your photos are poorly lit and don’t give a clear representation of the item, you will find that very few shoppers are willing to part with their money, even if the item description is exactly what they were looking for.

Take photos of the item from every angle, and if it is available in a variety of colors or other variations, ensure you capture these too. No one will want to buy the red dress if the only available image is in black.

Again, put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Would this image entice you to buy the product? If no, start from scratch.

From shopping, to… shipping

How long does it take to receive goods from an online order? Customers used to the benefits of subscription services like Amazon Prime are no longer happy to wait the average shipping time of 3-5 days for an item; they want they items as soon as they have entered their payment details.

Offering faster shipping or more shipping options is crucial to conversions. eBay are aware of this, and for example they recently introduced a brand-new end-to-end fulfilment service in the UK that will allow sellers to offer same day dispatch for next day delivery. If you sell on eBay, having this capability will make all the difference in uptake of your products, particularly if your competitors are not embracing this new service.

Free shipping is even better, but if you can’t offer it, lowering your shipping charges will also help. After making this change you can expect to see a difference in those who have dropped off after adding to their basket.

Pricing on your online store

Following the steps above should increase your conversion significantly, meaning you don’t have to lower prices to gain traction. However, deals such as Buy-One-Get-One-Free (BOGOF) and the like will also encourage sales. Promotions are a brilliant way to clear out old stock and refresh listings. Everyone loves a bargain; you will know first-hand how compelling a buy one get one half price offer can be.

A recent feature on eBay that can help in this respect is the Promotions Manager. The Promotions Manager gives you the chance to control all your offers from one place, including order discounts promoting custom offers depending on order size or customer spending, multi-buy discounts for those who buy certain quantities of your products, coupon deals offering potential buyers coupon codes for money off products, or sales and markdown events, which are price reductions you can have on specific items or in categories you sell in (eBay’s Markdown Manager has been merged into this tool, so it is still easily accessible to you).

Taking these steps to optimize your store can be the difference between you and your closest competitor. Now that you know all the different areas that contribute to boosting your marketplace presence, keep them in mind next time you are checking your listings. Optimizing your data is sure to help your store reach its optimum potential.

Optiseller’s software plans start at $35.00 a month. For more information, visit the Optiseller website.