Increase Your Online Sales For The HolidaysBy: Kevin Nunley
It looks like we are headed for another holiday season of brisk sales online. While bricks and mortor stores are cutting back on merchandise for the holidays, there is every indication that Internet sales will be up.
Don't look for mainstream media to tell you this story. The truth is, while they've been moaning about the dot-com meltdown, Internet sales have actually improved this year by an estimated 40 percent (Jupiter). From April of last year to April of this year, the number of adults on the Internet jumped 18 percent (Forrester).
Holiday sales start in September. Don't wait until late November or December to launch your holiday items, services, or marketing.
People who buy gifts online tend to be folks who are looking for convenience. They may be part of the large group who like to get gift purchases out of the way early. Or they may be those who procrastinate and buy at the last minute.
Make it easy to purchase. Put an order button or link next to each item you sell. It is vital to take credit cards.
If possible, have your shopping cart automatically fill in information for returning customers. You may even be able to show customers what gifts they purchased from you last year.
List how long it takes for orders to be filled and shipped. Web site visitors will be much more willing to buy if they know for sure the gift will arrive in time.
However, remember that not everything sells well online. Shoppers feel more comfortable buying some items online while they prefer buying other things in a physical store. You also need to find items that are easy to display online.
Good examples of things that sell well on the Web are electronics, computers, books, and business supply items. Online sales now account for massive sales in these categories. Dell is legendary for the millions in computers they sell online each day. A huge percentage of all sales online are one businessproviding supplies to another.
If you are having trouble selling your product online, check to see how the mail order industry does it. Many people won't buy clothing online because they can't try it on before they make the purchase. Yet, a number of companies are very successful selling clothing from mail order catalogs. Watch what kinds of clothing they sell, how they help customers find clothing that fits, and the return policy catalogs use to help customers feel secure.
There is another reason to look at mail order when choosing items to sell online. Even though customers are buying from your web site, physical items need to be shipped. Choose things that are easily shipped and won't be damaged.
After you've made sure your order forms and shopping cart are user friendly, and that your product is Internet suitable, wait to see if more sales start rolling in. If not, you might have to reconsider selling your product from your own site.
During the past year or so people have begun to visit fewer sites. Customers tend to go to the same sites over and over again while spending less time searching for new sites.
This can make it tough for a small or new site to get enough visitors to create sales. Many are finding it works well to sell from one of the Web's busy online malls.
Yahoo, Amazon.com, and eBay all have popular malls that draw millions of visitors. These set-ups can make it very easy for you to sell online.
You will have to pay a monthly listing fee ranging from just $9.95 per month at eBay to a more serious $300 at Yahoo. Amazon and eBay also take a small percentage of each sale. eBay charges a nickle for each item listed.
The online mall approach doesn't work for everyone. If you already have a good customer base, you probably want to keep your site separate from the malls. Having lots of competitors listed right next to your area may drain away your existing customers.
You can always sell your product through an online mall as well as your own site. This approach works best if you already have a solid customer base but need to find more prospects. The easier it is to find your products, with prompt delivery and and good customer service, your sales will surely boom during the holidays.
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