Boost Sales By Taking a Step Back

Take time out to think like a buyer and enjoy a little scenery.

by Sarah Brown
- Feb 28, 2014

I once lived in a beautiful ski resort area in Colorado, surrounded by white-blanketed mountains and a huge lake. It was breathtaking at first, but the scenery sort of vanished from my awareness after I lived there for a while.

I think this same trickery happens to online sellers. The more comfortable we become as sellers, the more we forget what it's like to be on the other end as a buyer.

Here are some reminders about how a buyer might think when they're shopping online.

Intuitive page design

Shoppers appreciate when a website is set up in a manner that seems natural when they're browsing or searching for something in particular

Shoppers appreciate a website that's easy to use and makes sense to them, functionally. The layout is set up in a manner that seems natural to the user when they're browsing or searching for something in particular. A simple example of this would be where the navigation bar is located.

Many people are accustomed to seeing the navigation bar set at the very top of the page, just like a book's table of contents is always located within the first few pages. It's intuitive, therefore, for them to automatically look to the very top of a Web page when they want to move to a different page. If they want to find a "Contact us" page, the user will look at the top navigation bar and, if its not there, will next look for it at the very bottom of the page.

When designing your own page layout, keep this concept of intuitiveness in mind. If you're selling on a marketplace, such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy, you're limited in how you can tailor your shop for your market. These platforms usually allow you to place your listings in your own customized "categories" or "departments."

If you exclusively sell kitchen items, for example, you can create categories such as "Flatware," "Plates," "Bowls," "Juice Pitchers," etc. This makes your buyers' searches function smoother and more efficiently.

What to sell, and where

When trying to decide what to sell, a lot of sellers want to offer products they have a personal interest in. There is nothing wrong with this strategy, but making decisions based more on emotion than popular interest can limit profit.

That's why it's important to know what's trending in sales and what the latest and hot products are. One way to do this is by staying current with media reports and trade magazines in your particular niche.

As a buyer, I perceive eBay as an almost endless supply for anything I could ever need, and generally it's the place where I'll find what I need at the lowest cost

If you want to sell used or vintage items, you may have to place yourself in the shoes of your target customer. Perhaps they have a favorite dish set that needs either replacing or expanding. Because it's no longer sold in retail stores, the first place they're going to look is probably on Amazon or eBay.

This raises the question, "Which marketplace will buyers likely go to find a particular product?"

As a buyer, my first go-to is eBay. I perceive it as an almost endless supply for anything I could ever need, and generally it's the place where I'll find what I need at the lowest cost. But I know Amazon is more popular among other buyers, as well. Etsy is best for unique, handmade items or quality vintage finds.

I guess it all comes down to what a buyer's priority is. Many are looking for the lowest price, while others appreciate free shipping offers, and still others are looking for a product that is unique and unusual. When you begin to understand what motivates your specific target market, you can better zero in on how to make your sales soar.

Writing for the buyer

Start your title and your description with a few main keywords. These are the specific words a buyer is most likely going to use when performing a search.

For example, "abstract art painting" is too vague and will return too many results for the buyer to sift through. But if you say, "abstract textured acrylic painting by (artist)," you are more likely to gain the attention of the buyer who is looking for exactly what you have.

When you begin to understand what motivates your specific target market, you can better zero in on how to make your sales soar

Also, when writing your description, consider questions your potential buyers might have as they're looking at your listed product. They might want to know if it's used and, if so, what condition it's in. Pictures do a lot of service for understanding what is being sold, but they still cannot tell the whole story.

Are there textures to the product that would be of interest to the consumer? Does it feel like a quality-made product? How heavy is it, and what are the measurements? Is there an interesting history to the piece? Do you accept returns? Tell them everything. Maybe even embed a homemade video showing the product in use.

Consumers also glean information about your store by looking at your location, what you write on your "About us" page, and customer feedback. When comparing deals, a buyer might be willing to opt for the higher sale price if the seller with a lower price has poor feedback — which reveals the seller's attitude, shipping speed, reliability and more.

If you host a shop on your own domain, you can post informative feedback from your past customers. The "About us" page often reveals if the seller's inventory is in a home or a physical shop, and indicates if the product is being surrounded by animals or cigarette smoke.

When you step back from your daily routine and look up at the scenery around you, when you take your mind out of "seller" mode and exercise it into "buyer" mode, you not only do your customers a service, but you may also raise your sales to new heights.

About the Author

Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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