6 secret tricks to seize the competitive advantage for your e-store

A lot of Internet sales strategies focus on the techniques of making customers buy from you. Over the years, e-commerce practitioners have developed highly optimised ways to ‘convert’ website visitors into buyers. They have perfected the art of enticing potential customers before the sale using the most scientifically driven method called “A/B Testing”. But unfortunately for most of them, in their obsession with optimising the conversion ratio (the proportion of buyers from total visitors), they miss a big elephant in the room. This is where you, the underdog, can do something to get around that disadvantage and snatch back some competitive advantage.

But before I reveal that, let me explain what “A/B Testing” for those who are new to this idea. Basically, this method involves tweaking the various aspects of your e-commerce website (e.g. colour, position of items, words and graphics) continuously and poring over the results data to draw conclusions on what works and what doesn’t (statistically). A/B Testing works by putting up two different versions of a webpage and testing them for fulfilment of a certain goal (e.g. purchase, subscription, view). The one that performs worse will be eliminated. The winner will then be reused for another round of A/B testing. This process will continue until no more improvements can be made. A/B testing fits into the underlying philosophy of Google. They are a huge believer in the idea of using data to drive decisions. But this approach only works if you have large number of visitors to derive statistically significant conclusions. If you do not have large numbers on your side, then your results data will not be statistically meaningful and as a result, cannot draw any definitive conclusions on what works.

But if you are in this situation, there are some things you can easily do to gain back some of the competitive advantage. The trick is to focus on your customers after they make a purchase. This is something most of your competitors will not be doing. It has been said that it is much easier to sell to repeat customers than to sell to new ones. In addition, satisfied customers will be more likely to rave about your products to their friends. If you follow up on them after they buy from you, you stand a much better chance of turning first-time customers into life-time customers.

I’m going to show you some tips on how to do that. You don’t have to use every tip that I’m about to reveal, but try your best to use as many as you can. Although they are deceptively simple, I can tell you that most of your competitors will not be using them unless they are reading this article too. Here are the tips:

  1. Call them on the phone to thank them after they receive the order and make sure they are happy with it. If you are just starting out, or if your business is not yet making too many sales, you should be doing this. If you have too many sales to do that feasibly, at least pick some of them at random to do that. If you have the means of hiring people to do that for you for every customer, then go for it.
  2. Upgrade their shipping to express/overnight for free. Nobody likes to pay for shipping. Upgrading their shipping will give them a pleasant surprise. If you can afford to do that, it will get your customers to talk about your business.
  3. Include something free. For example, a good idea is to include free samples of other products you sell. This will generate goodwill and further encourage them to come back to you to order the larger version of the sample.
  4. Include a printed coupon code of 5-20% discount for their next order. You may want to try a ‘sneaky’ trick of telling them not to share this coupon code because it is for them only. Human nature is such that if you tell someone not to do something, it will make then want to do that even more. But you really want them to share it because that will increase sales for your business. Even better still, include an expiry date in your coupon so that it will add a sense of urgency for them to make a purchase!
  5. Refund shipping cost to store credit. Although store credit is not real money, it feels like some kind of virtual money that gives your customers the psychological urge to ‘spend’. This will increase sales and create goodwill, which increases their trust on you.
  6. Hand written and signed “Thank You” note. You may even want to include words like “If you have any feedback, I would like to hear. Please give me a call at…”  Even better still, include a photo of youself in casual attire (i.e. no suit, no tie) at work (e.g. in the warehouse). If for whatever reason you are not implementing most of the tips, you should implement this one. Why? Remember what I wrote before at “Can you be an authority without titles and formal qualifications?”, that people

… buy from you because they trust you.

This tip will get them to know and trust you a little more. So far, have you seen any online stores putting a personal handwritten note by the boss in the package? This is something no one does. If you do it, you will be different.

So, that’s all for today. See you next week!

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