dotbiz with Andrew McEwan

In last month’s dotbiz we looked at ways of developing customer loyalty online. I thought that this month we could run through some other ideas to encourage people to buy from you, and to spend just a bit more when they do – all by just giving added value and facilities.

Your website’s catalogue listings should provide as much detail about your products as possible. All that could be standing between your customer and them making a purchase could simply be the answer to a quick question they have.

Let’s face it, though, it is very difficult to anticipate every question that your potential customers can come up with. If they do have a query, they may look for your contact page and get in touch with you that way. However, you could make it very easy for them to ask a question about individual products by including an ‘Ask a question’ facility right there on the product information page. When you’ve responded, the customer’s question and your answer could then be included in the product’s information.

This gives you additional benefits:

z It can cut down on the amount of time you have to spend responding to the same questions – if a customer sees that their question has already been answered, they’ll not need to ask it themselves;

z The product-specific questions and answers could give you a helping hand in search listings;

If customers are interested in specific products in your online shop, let them subscribe to updates about them.

For example, if Product X is temporarily out of stock, allowing your customers to click a button that will let you notify them when it’s back in stock could help shift units as soon as supplies are replenished. They may be interested to hear you are carrying it in a new colour or that there is now a matching Product Y to go with it. Remember, if they’re interested in hearing about it, they’re more likely to buy!

Most of us know about the ‘Click and Reserve’ systems that some big outlets offer, where you can reserve items online then call in to pay and collect later. If you have a physical shop as well as an online presence, what’s to stop you offering a similar service? Your customers may appreciate being able to use their time more productively by selecting the products they wish to buy in a few minutes of their spare time. You would package everything for them then they simply need to call into your shop to collect.

If you offer free delivery for purchases over a certain amount, say £30, be sure to remind customers about this when they’re checking out. There’s that psychological trigger embedded in our brains that wants to tell us that, if we were going to buy goods totalling £25 and postage is, for example, £3, by spending another £5 to get free delivery, we’re only really spending £2 extra.

So, there you are – a few simple ideas to help give your online shop a boost. Do let me know how you get on if you give any of them a go. Until next time, good business.

Andrew McEwan of The Web Workshop in Morebattle ( designs websites, builds brands, produces videos, and markets businesses in the Borders and beyond.