The good folks over at PayPal have put together a fantastic guide for helping you to sell like it’s Christmas, all year round. According to the report, more than 21% of UK retail sales occur in November and December. This isn’t surprising when you consider that the uplift in sales for Black Friday alone is 237%. In the UK in 2016, £1,230,000,000 was spent online on Black Friday, compared to an average daily spend of £364,000,000.

To save you reading and digesting the whole report, we’ve picked out the highlights for you… so read on to learn how to boost your sales, all year round.

Connect with your customers

The take home message is that social media has, and continues to, change the way we shop. Social media allows us to have direct two-way conversations with our customers, rather than just fire out marketing messages aimlessly into the ether and hoping for the best. One third of UK small businesses have some form of social media and many report positive impacts on sales as a result. Whilst getting started is cheap, it takes time to keep your content fresh and engaging.

Choose your platform wisely

Whilst you’ll usually see the big companies using a variety of available platforms, for small businesses it can be a bit overwhelming and a drain on already limited resources. Choose the right platform for your business and focus on it. For example, for more visual products, Instagram would probably be the platform of choice.

The major social media companies give advice to sellers on how to succeed using their platforms:

Tone and voice

Finding your company’s voice won’t come easily and can take a fair amount of experimentation. Look at works for others and listen to your audience to help guide your content. On social media, a business is competing with a lot of fun stuff on the Internet, be careful not to bore your audience.

Rob Harper, the UK Mobile Commerce Director for PayPal says that the customer journey is being shortened through social media. The next step is buying at the point of discovery – from an e-mail/interest/messenger etc. This shows how important it is to be involved with these platforms now.

Influencers

The modern consumer is increasingly skeptical about advertising and marketing. Consumers are far more likely to listen to friends, family or even just those similar to themselves over the marketing efforts of a company. It’s vital to find those influencers within your audience and then engage with them in the hope that their recommendations lead to further sales. Time, is the key aspect here. As with most social media, this doesn’t happen quickly.

Social media isn’t always the easiest thing to manage, especially with limited time resource. But it’s increasingly more and more vital to have a busy page full of good content. If you can’t do it, get help before you’re too far left behind.

PayPal’s top tips:

  • Choose your platform carefully
  • Make time for it
  • Be patient
  • Think conversation, not cash (people follow people, not sellers)
  • Use data and analytics to your advantage
  • Use paid content

Give people a reason to buy

If you sell online, you should always be thinking about special events. These are the times of the year that can significantly boost your sales as consumers are already primed to buy. This includes Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, bank holidays, school holidays, ‘back to school’ and of course, Black Friday. Don’t be limited to the UK, there are also many good shopping events worldwide.

Consider Black Friday – this began life as a stateside phenomenon and has swiftly become a staple of the UK shopping calendar, and now more than before, the UK e-commerce calendar.

Whilst shoppers are primed to spend during the Black Friday week, competition is fierce. If you’re not involved, and competing for traffic and sales, you’re losing customers. The UK’s online retail association, IMRG, has two tips for success:

  • Be innovative to make your Black Friday marketing more engaging and interesting for shoppers.
  • Use discounting as a hook to attract shoppers, but then associate other full price or less discounted products with the discounted goods to average out the impact on your margins.

Remember not to enter any event without planning your stock, staff and tech to handle the increase.

PayPal’s Top Tips:

  • Start Small – focus on doing one thing well
  • Plan Carefully – a little bit of planning saves wasted time and money
  • Think about shipping – build confidence with well labelled shipping & returns options
  • Remember the rules – if selling cross-border, keep taxes, duties and regulations in mind
  • Make it easy to get paid – Use a good payment method that’s easy for your customers
  • Offer great customer service

Make it easy to buy from you

When buying from a bricks and mortar store, shoppers have cues to encourage to buy. Online, you don’t have that. No shop assistants, no nice store settings, no product displays, no background music and none of the “out shopping” experience.

To sell online you need to recreate as many cues as you can (no, don’t put music on your website), build shopper confidence and make it as easy as possible for people to make a purchase.

Try using your own site, or asking someone unattached to it to do so. If it’s not super simple, it may need some work.

Make it Mobile

More than half of all traffic UK retail websites now comes from a mobile device. If that stat is a surprise to you, then you need to get up to date.

A mobile first way of thinking is vital to your business at the moment, but more-so in the coming years. President and CEO of PayPal, Dan Schulman, predicts a bigger change to shopping habits in the next 5 years than there has been in the last 30. Money is being digitised and the mobile phone is changing the shape of the shopping.

  • In 2016, circa £1.5bn was spent by UK shoppers whilst out and about, travelling, commuting or in cafes etc.
  • A further circa £1.0-£1.5bn was spent in-store (£0.5bn on a different retailer).

That stat is fascinating. People are buying online, whilst stood in a shop.

PayPal’s top tips:

  • Think Mobile first
  • Simplify your navigation
  • Support a wide range of devices
  • Have sticky “add to basket” and checkout buttons (always on screen)
  • Use great images
  • Perfect your mobile payment process

Other things to think about

Images: People shop with their eyes. As with the example of high street shopping, consumers can see and handle a potential purchase. You need to do your best to recreate that experience using images and video.

Trust: Online shoppers are still quite security conscious and not everyone is completely tech savvy. It only takes a click on an erroneous link or a small spelling mistake to end up in completely the wrong place. Displaying trust signs and making sure your site is secure will help to build trust.

So there we have it… there’s a lot to take in and a lot to do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When things are done right, it pays for itself.

 

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