15 Top Tips for Retailers To Attract Customers, Increase Sales, Improve SEO

Bricks-and-mortar and/or online retailers can do a number of inexpensive things to improve the shopping experience, attract more customers, increase sales and improve the website SEO.
By: Gifts By The Stars
May 2, 2010 - PRLog -- According to a blogger and online gift retailer, there are a number of inexpensive things retailers can do to improve the shopping experience for customers whether it's in-store or online.

Elizabeth Ball, who writes the gift news blog at http://gifts-by-the-stars-online.com and runs the astrology gift website http://www.itsinthestarsonline.com has a keen interest in tactics and strategies that help bricks-and-mortar and online retailers.

"Now that we're nearly mid-way through the year, and seven months to Christmas, now is a great time to think about some of these elements which will help your sales and SEO," Elizabeth Ball said.

"Some of these ideas will involve a little bit of programming, or a small change to your systems, others require a bit of planning and outlay, but they should help your business," she said.

1. Offer a branded DIY gift wrapping kit

"Free gift wrapping is a waste of time and money for online retailers. Many online shoppers will take the free gift wrapping option, but will often unwrap it anyway to check the item before they give it to the recipient. Offer a DIY gift-wrapping kit containing branded gift-wrap, ribbon, and card for a nominal fee. You won't need to use staff resources wrapping products, plus your customer gets to inspect the item before he or she presents it," Elizabeth Ball said.

2. Ask for their birthday along with their email address

"Whether you run a shop or a website, ask them to fill out their birthday along with their email when they’re at the checkout. You can email them or send them a handwritten card for their birthday along with a promotional offer," she said.

3. Gift certificates – leave them “un-named” and undated

"Be as generic as possible with printed gift certificates for the greatest gift-giving flexibility. Don’t create a space for someone’s name on the gift certificate. If your customer fills it out, it means it can’t be “regifted”. And take off the expiry date. Studies have found that people don’t tend to use gift certificates until they are within two months of expiring. With no expiry date, there's no wastage from expired gift certificates you haven't sold."

4. Create a cart abandonment program

"Did you know 65% of customers who visit, but don’t buy from your website today, buy tomorrow? They may have to transfer money into their credit card, find out the recipient’s size, favourite colour, birth details or other specific information. By gently contacting them the next day, they are more likely to complete their online sale," Elizabeth Ball said.

5. But don’t include a discount offer in your cart abandonment email

"People who are committed to buying from you don’t need a discount, they just need time to transfer money, find out size, colour preference, birth details about the recipient etc. Browsers may act on a discount – but then you will always have to give them a discount for them to buy anything. Don’t train potential customers to expect a discount," she said.

6. Rename your promotional coupon code section

"When customers reaching the checkout see wording like 'Enter your promotional coupon code here' many will stop shopping mid-way to Google your company or product’s name for a discount coupon code. Reword it to something like 'Enter your gift certificate code here' which has a completely different meaning from a discount coupon, and it also highlights the fact you have gift certificates".

7. Online purchase, in-store pick-up

"Do you have a website and a bricks-and-mortar store? Let your customers pay online, print out a receipt and then collect the item from their nearest store. Both you and the customer save time, and money on postage," Elizabeth Ball said.

8. Pay most attention to your Gmail customers

"Did you know Gmail users are the most likely customers to open your emails? AOL and Hotmail are the oldest free email properties, while Gmail is the "youngest". Customers are typically most engaged with their newest email address, using their older accounts for competitions and newsletters that they don’t plan to open frequently, or at all. You may receive higher open rates, and therefore sales from Gmail customers," she said.

9. Testimonials help cut return rates

"I read that US retailers who have more than 50 product reviews on their website have return rates 65% lower than those who don’t have any testimonials. Each return costs US merchants approximately $US6-$10."

10. Email them for their feedback within 2 weeks

"Depending on the complexity of your product, email them a survey about your product or service within 14 days. This will give them long enough to have opened/used your product or service but be fresh enough for them to remember their impression of your business," Elizabeth Ball said.

11. Ask them when they’d buy your product or service in your survey

"You may spot an opportunity for your product that you hadn’t considered, or discover that you’re wasting resources on the wrong season or occasion. Men and women may have very different occasions for when they’d buy your product," she said.

12. Get testimonials with names and addresses to help SEO efforts

"Provide fields for customers to include their name, city and state in their testimonials. Select any reviews which include SEO words and phrases you want associated with your products. Google will return these phrases and/or the customer’s name or address in searches. Plus, a friend or colleague Googling this person will attribute greater credibility to your products by seeing their testimonial in the search results."

13. Promote your product or service in goodie bags

"Did you know event organisers are constantly looking for fillers for goodie bags for charity dinners, expos, conferences, parties and trade fairs?," Elizabeth Ball said. "Create a non-dated discount coupon offer on a glossy postcard which details your product/s as well as promotes things like gift certificate options. Make it generic enough you can include it in packaging for existing customers and to attract those who have never heard of your business before," Elizabeth Ball said.

14. Send invoices separately from packages

"Some online customers will send your product as a gift directly to their recipients. Make sure you don’t mail any product brochures or invoices which list the price. This could ruin the gift experience for the purchaser and the recipient. Instead, email the invoice to the purchaser," she said.

15. Biggest sales occur between 1st-5th and 15th-20th

"Whether you run a shop, website or both, concentrate your marketing and selling efforts on the first five and the third five days of the month. Most people get paid on the last day of the month (30th or 31st) or on the 15th and research has found that 64% of people spend the bulk of their discretionary income within the first five days after payday."

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Elizabeth Ball writes the gift news blog at http://gifts-by-the-stars-online.com and is director of http://www.itsinthestarsonline.com which has been producing beautifully presented personalized hardcover astrology reports for couples and parents for anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, christenings, engagements, Mother's Day, new babies, weddings, and Valentines Day since 2005. It now produces gift certificates at http://www.itsinthestarsonline.com/boxed_gift_certificate....
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Tags:Gift Certificate, Gifts, Retail, SEO, Coupon, Internet, Customers, Shopping, Testimonials
Industry:Retail, Shopping, Internet
Location:Sydney - New South Wales - Australia
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