11 Ways to Sell Online Well and Cash in on the Holiday Sales Boom

Tips to Help Small Businesses Sell Online

Boost Your Online Sales. Image (c) Richard Newstead / Getty Images

Canadians spent $15.3 billion online in 2010 according to Statistics Canada. Is it any wonder that so many small businesses are deciding to sell online?

To make an investment in e-commerce pay off, though, you’ve got to capitalize on the holiday spending season and make as many holiday sales as possible. Just being online is no guarantee of selling online.

Developed by SAP Canada, these tips can help small retailers use widely available e-commerce technology to boost their revenues this holiday season:

1. Test your site early and often. Plan ahead to make sure your site can handle the holiday shopping frenzy.

2. Test the integrity of your content. Check for misspelled words, broken links, busted pictures, etc. An unprofessional appearance may lead to a bad customer experience and kill your chances to sell online.

3. Make sure images load quickly. A slow-loading page may simply drive customers away to click on to the next site. You want to minimize page download time.

4. Make sure you’re up to snuff on patches. Install, verify, test and lock down all patches and upgrades now, before the season gets too busy.

5. "Load test" your site. You’re expecting (or at least hoping for) a rush of customers. So it’s a good idea to determine how much traffic your Web site can support. You can’t sell online if customers can’t reach your site.

6. Create sample transactions. These can simulate expected customer traffic and Web transactions.

By running "synthetic" transactions periodically - say, every five to 15 minutes – you’ll know there’s a problem before your customers do.

7. Check the performance of your network provider. You can do this by looking at a site that’s similar to yours and in your area, but connected to another network.

In a fiercely competitive business, every second matters.

8. Add cross-sell and up-sell opportunities throughout your site. This means, for example, suggesting table linens on the dinnerware, silverware and glassware pages. Offer Top Gift Suggestions or Best-Sellers to improve sales and drive impulse purchases. More buying choices means more chances to sell online.

9. Make your policies easy to find and provide customer service contact details for a real person. Providing an easy-to-find phone number on the site helps online shoppers feel more secure and increases your chance to sell online. Clearly state your company’s return policy. Remind customers of the last possible day to order and receive a product in time for the holidays.

10. Make your search function more effective. Your search function should accommodate common misspellings by returning similarly spelled items or your site’s most popular search terms.

11. Get your back office in order. Increased online shopping traffic can expose small business operational errors caused when the front and back office systems aren’t integrated. Common mistakes include shipping the wrong items, not shipping an order at all, shipping partial orders or charging incorrect prices.

These errors can reduce profit and result in declining customer satisfaction. By connecting front and back office systems, you are better prepared to survive spikes in sales while increasing productivity and profitability.

So how do you sell online successfully? Make the buying process for your customers as transparent and convenient as possible and watch your holiday sales soar.

See also:

Tips for Successful Ecommerce Design

Charging Provincial Sales Tax (PST) on Online Sales in Canada

Starting an Ecommerce Business

29 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Business Website