How to increase sales for your online store

E-commerce has been exploding for many years but since we’ve been confined at home, it’s become especially popular. It’s convenient, fast and perfect for the digitally integrated, always-on world we live in. You can now tap your way to your favourite buy via Instagram, a video link, augmented reality, voice search or a chatbot. Is your online store ready?
Take a look at our guide to creating a kick-ass e-commerce store, bursting with sales. We give ideas for a better store experience, products, online marketing and customer service.



Understand how people shop

As with any marketing activity, if you want to make something attractive to a customer, you need to first understand what makes them tick. Called a buyer persona, this is something we drill down into with a social media strategy. It answers questions like:

  • Who they are (demographic profile)
  • How your product/service can help them (pain points you are solving) 
  • Why they choose you (their motivations), and  
  • How you will reach them.

Armed with that information, you can start thinking about the purchasing journey. For example, from becoming aware about your product for the first time, is it easy for them to move to purchasing it? Do you have the right information? Is it compelling? Is your storefront attractive? This exercise will give you ideas for clearer product categories or names, as well as better synching your store with your social media channels.

Optimise your site

Gone are the days when you can just have a beautifully designed site, sit back and wait for the orders to roll in. A successful online store must also be optimised to quickly convert interest into a sale. This includes:

  • A well plotted user experience (UX). This is quite a science and something best left to the experts. 
  • Making it easy for Google search engines to find your site (more about SEO and SEM below).
  • Creating a slick and easy checkout process. 
  • Ensuring your site is mobile friendly – a complete non-negotiable.


.Improve your SEO and SEM

The difference between these two? SEO, or search engine optimisation, makes your website and its content more visible to search engines like Google. A website correctly set up for lead generation will use savvy SEO tactics to push your website up on the results page, so there’s a better chance of reaching a customer when they search a keyword related to your offering. You’ll need to have your on-site SEO in place (title tags, URL’s, backlinks, multimedia etc.) It is also important to get a list of popularly searched keywords and incorporate this into your copywriting.

SEM or search engine marketing is basically amplifying your site’s ‘findability’ through paid advertising such as Google Ads, whereby you pay to bid on these popular keywords. You can choose a list of keywords to target that are relevant to your business offerings, the words that people are most likely to use when searching for your product.

Craft a user-friendly experience

When you walk into a real life store, you expect departments to be clearly signposted and products displayed in a logical and attractive way. The same rings true for your e-commerce store. You only have a few seconds to convince someone to click that ‘add to cart’ button. Entice them with good web design that offers:

  • Easy checkout process with as few clicks as possible
  • Lots of payment options
  • Related products (other customers bought/liked)
  • Low shipping costs (free if possible) and fast delivery


Refresh your product photos

Without a physical environment where a buyer can touch, feel, smell and experience a product, you have to work extra hard to make everything look amazing. Brand photography is a worthwhile investment. The right visuals will set the perfect mood and instantly tell your brand story. You can also go one step further with videos, product demos and testimonials.

Create unique product descriptions

By the time someone lands on your product page, they are quite interested in buying so don’t let them down with little or no information, bad spelling and insufficient information. Google will know if you just copy and paste info from a product brochure. Use a copywriting service to create descriptions that are not just a joy to read but also includes the right SEO keywords.

Provide great value to seal the deal

Often a customer needs just that final push to go to checkout, be it fast shipping, a combo deal or free returns. Or perhaps the more they buy, the bigger a discount they unlock. This is another easy technique to keep your web store feeling fresh.

Stand out from the crowd

Content is king – especially when it helps drive traffic to your web shop. Think of things like a blog as constant billboards for your shop. It will help the SEO visibility of your site and position you as a product expert. If you don’t have time to create infographics, e-books, videos and blog articles, get a content writer to help you plot regular posts.


Boost your social media presence

It should come as no surprise that the ultimate way to drive traffic to your online store is via social media. It’s THE place everyone hangs out – the key is having the right content on the right channels. Spend some time thinking about your content pillars and creative posts to drive sales that are not just ‘buy, buy, buy’.

Invest in social media advertising

Social media is not just about having a big fan base – it’s a great way to create quality leads in a relatively short amount of time. Using the right social media advertising on the likes of Instagram and Facebook can increase your fan/follower base, improve your engagement and drive traffic to your website. Play around with different formats such as carousel ads (to show off a product catalogue), promoted posts with competitions, videos and much more.

Don’t forget email marketing

Don’t knock the humble email – it still boasts fantastic open rates after all these decades and has many uses to boost ecommerce sales. Email marketing should be segmented into different stages of a user’s buying journey. For example, a welcome mail if someone signs up to your mailing list or buys for the first time or, abandoned cart mailer, for repeat buyers – something that rewards their loyalty. Keep your database engaged with regular newsletters and email promos.

Incorporate video marketing

As with striking brand photography, nothing beats video for truly bringing a product or service to life. Seeing is believing – especially on social media. Creating short, intriguing video clips instantly grabs the attention of a potential buyer.

Measure your success with smart data

The great thing about a web store versus a real-life one is how much data it gives you. Knowing what buyers like and where they are coming from can help you make important decisions to improve your online sales. Google Analytics give an overview of exactly what your web traffic is doing, such as:

  • Web traffic: how many people are visiting which pages
  • Bounce rate: If they land on a page, not clicking anything
  • Time on pages: The duration of a visit
  • Sales conversion: How many visitors are completing a purchase
  • Customer acquisition cost: what it’s costing you to make a sale


Encourage reviews & recommendations

Customers trust other customers so recommendations are gold in an e-commerce store. If you have any testimonials shared with you on email or social media, add these to your website. Encourage reviews on social media with prominent share buttons and follow sales with emails asking for recommendations on your product pages (with a small discount to sweeten the deal).

Offer a live chat function

If a customer has a question about a product, the option to speak to a real human without picking up the phone or waiting for an email response is a great personal touch. Don’t worry about being on call 24/7 – with a bit of clever planning you can share the load with your staff members and decide strategically whom to show this widget to. With a Shopify store for example, you can only display the live chat function on key pages, to people from certain geographical areas, or only to customers who have bought from you before.

Offer incredible customer service

There’s no point having a beautiful store with great products if it’s not backed up by outstanding customer service. Put yourself in a customer’s shoes: you’d want your order to arrive quickly, you want constant communication about the timeline and clear info about return policies, etc. The better an experience is for a customer, the more likely they will be to return.

Consider the packaging experience

Beautifully designed packaging makes receiving a purchase that much more enjoyable. It has actually given rise to what is called the ‘unboxing experience’ on social media – the act of capturing a new product being opened.

Besides obvious things like a study, attractive box/packaging that is easy to open, this delivery is also an opportunity to continue your brand story. Include a note that talks about how the product was made, the people behind the scenes, your favourite ways to use it, tips, recipes… You get the idea. The more surprising the unboxing, the better the chance of news spreading via word of mouth.

Here are a few examples of Brands with beautiful packaging, go and give them a follow while you’re at it!

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A post shared by Lulu & Marula (@luluandmarula)

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A post shared by F L I N K. Clothing (

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A post shared by Dough Ray Me | Holistic Play (@_doughrayme)

We hope you feel super inspired by all these ideas. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by what you need to do, feel free to give us a call to help you get your online store in tip top shape. From redesigning your website and social media advertising to video and content creation, Pretty Social does it all!
Call us: +27 79 896 1593 or email


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