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How to Grow Your E-commerce Business in 2020

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In the past five months, e-commerce has noticeably increased. It was already steadily rising due to life moving more and more online, but the Covid-19 pandemic has caused it to grow even faster than expected. This rapid surge has left many businesses in a position where they need to develop a stronger web presence – and fast! – or in a position where they’re flooded by consumer demand and using all their resources just to keep up.  In this article, we’ll tackle the first subset of businesses: those trying to develop a stronger web presence to capitalize on all the e-commerce growth.

It’s a given that if you want to increase your growth as an e-commerce company, you need to increase your sales. But you obviously can’t just wave a magic wand to do that. If you want higher sales volume, the first thing you need to do is attract more people to your website. And we all know cutting through the noise and clutter online can be a major challenge. 

That’s where Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) comes in to play. 

SEO refers to the keywords, related keywords and long-tail keywords you use on your website. The more you optimize your site for keywords, the higher up you can appear in the results of a Bing or Google search. For example, let’s say you’re a company that sells protein bars online. Each and every page of your website should intentionally be populated with the keywords people use when they search online for protein bars. If you’re having trouble honing in on what those keywords should be, try a site like Ubersuggest. It’s free, and it will help you generate a list of keywords. In the example above, when “protein bars” was inputted to Ubersuggest, a list of 540 keywords and long-tail key words (or longer phrases people search) popped up. The list included things like: protein bar, protein bars, protein bar one, quest, Costco, Kirkland, low carb, healthy, protein, vegan, and so on. Ubersuggest even gives ideas for particular types of content you could host on your site using keywords – like protein bar recipes ideas.

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We Got Them Here, Now Let’s Get them to Stay 

Once you attract people to your site, the next hurdle is keeping them on your site so you can entice them into making a purchase. If your website looks dated or it is difficult to navigate, you can safely bet new customers will click away faster than you can say “e-commerce.” The bad news is: if people click away from your site quickly, the search engines punish you by lowering your ranking in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). It is therefore imperative that your website be attractive to the eye so people stay on your site as long as possible. Ways to hold the attention of new customers include using high quality photos and videos and minimizing clutter. 

Further, you want your site’s content to be easy to digest and relevant. It would behoove you to look at competitors’ websites to see the type and quantity of information they include and follow suit. Back to our protein bar example: if your competitors all have beautiful photos of their protein bars, a vibrant color palette, great videos, and great articles about the health benefits of their particular protein bar, you will need to post similar content if you want to stand a chance at keeping customers on your site. 

Here’s an example we use on one of our top-performing product pages, called the Brondell Swash 1400

You can see on the page we include:

  • High Quality Photos
  • Video Walkthrough 
  • Reviews on the Top
  • Production Information 

Another great way to hold peoples’ attention on your site is to include any awards, badges or seals of approval you’ve earned. These marks of cachet can go a long way in building trust with a new customer. Another way to earn trust and keep people on your site is by posting customer reviews and testimonials. These could be Google Reviews, Yelp reviews, or testimonials.

How Do You Make These Improvements? 

Now that you know how important it is for your website to look great and have amazing content, you might be thinking: Okay, I’m sold. I need to re-design my website, but how do I do that? I’m no web designing guru! Don’t despair. You can always hire someone else to take charge of your website’s redesign. Or a more middle-ground approach could be to use the services of a company like Squarespace or Shopify – which provide you with various templates to choose from and require minimal web design knowledge. 

The nice thing about a service like Shopify, for example, is that it helps ensure a potential customer’s checkout experience on your site goes as smoothly as humanly possible. According to various market research firms, 70% of online shoppers begin a shopping process online, then abandon their carts due to some sort of “friction.” Things that cause friction at checkout include suddenly revealing hidden costs, forcing shoppers to register for your site in order to complete the purchase, and a checkout process that is simply too long. Knowing what causes friction, your goal should be to devise a checkout process that is friction-less, while still getting you the information you need.

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A great example of an extraordinarily fast check out process is the Amazon “Buy now with 1-click” option. It literally couldn’t be easier – which is part of what has made Amazon a trillion-dollar company!  If a one-click option isn’t something you can feasibly do, consider putting a progress bar at the top of your site during checkout so customers can track how far along in the process they are. Another useful tip is to de-clutter your checkout page so that users have as few distractions as possible to entice them to click away. Easy checkout = more sales!

One huge point about your website to keep in mind: your site needs to work equally well on desktop and mobile. Many e-commerce businesses forget about how their site loads and looks on mobile, which is a big mistake. Especially given that in 2019, almost 2 billion purchases were made via mobile. Further, 95% of e-commerce customers report doing research on their devices prior to making a purchase! So it is well worth your while to ensure your site looks great and loads quickly on all devices.

Let’s Not Forget the Videos

Another thing that can help your e-commerce business grow is starting a YouTube channel. YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world. That means having a presence there is worth your time and energy. Plus, videos – specifically product videos – help potential buyers better understand your products and services. According to marketing guru Neil Patel, viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to purchase products after watching product videos. So consider making a How-to video, or a product review, or a testimonial, or a product comparison. Another quick example to show how we put this in practice, we have a YouTube channel for all our users to reference, but we also include an easily accessible video library on our website that users can look through when evaluating different product. 

A bonus for your efforts: Google – which incidentally owns YouTube – prioritizes websites that have video in their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Which means having videos on your site, preferably hosted on YouTube, is a great way to raise your rankings in SERPs. And remember, the higher up you are on those results pages, the easier it is to get customers to your site.

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Social Media & Email is Always Great

If you have money to invest in advertising campaigns, another strategy to consider to grow your e-commerce business is to allocate money for either a social media campaign, an email marketing campaign or both. Over 2.6 Billion people use social media, and on average, they use it for 2.5 hours per day. Further, 94% of companies who use social media for e-commerce pay for social media advertising – the biggest two spends being Facebook and Instagram. It is therefore likely that your competition is spending money on social media, so you probably should, too. Email marketing is also a great tool to reach your customers since studies say almost a quarter of online sales are generated by it. Consider either organizing your own email campaign or using a service like MailChimp to organize one for you.

In conclusion, if you want to take part in the e-commerce growth that is happening all around us, start by looking at your website. Make sure it looks attractive, make sure your content uses plenty of keywords for SEO, and double-check that the checkout process is friction-less. Consider starting a YouTube channel or investing in a marketing campaign via email or on social media. And last but not least, remember the power of word of mouth. If you treat your customers right, provide them with a great product and an excellent shopping experience, they will spread the word – and that will lead to the continued growth of your e-commerce business.

Jensen Lee is the Founder and Managing Member of bidetsPLUS, an online retail store specializing in bidet toilet seats. Prior to bidetsPLUS, Jensen held management positions in technology-related fields, in both the U.S. and Europe. He has held the position of Product Manager of Global Network Services for British Telecom. Most recently, he held the position of Executive Director of Product Marketing at AT&T Interactive, AT&T's internet advertising division.

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