How To Optimise Your Online Store To Become Profitable

So you’ve set up your online store and it’s been running for a while. Sales are up and so is your confidence to run this mothership. You may be thinking lately that you’re ready to optimise your online store  to increase sales and create a better experience for your customers. Fear not, here are some easy tweaks you can make and some things to think about to get the most out of your online store.

First things first, are you including enough payment options to suit all your customers?

1. Payment methods for everyone

When accepting online payments in South Africa it’s important to have payment options for everyone. A lot of South Africans prefer EFT payments over card payments so make sure you always have this payment option. What’s more, not all South Africans have a card or even a bank account to make payment. Heard of mobicred or SCode?

Mobicred allows customers to pay for something with monthly installments while you as the merchant receive the full payment from mobicred upfront. It’s a safe and convenient way for customers to pay online as they only need their mobicred details to make a payment not their bank or card details. So for those who are still wary of inputting their payment details online, this is a really safe and secure option for them.

SCode allows your customers to make online purchases and pay for them in person with cash or card at selected stores across South Africa like Checkers, Shoprite and the Post Office. This opens doors to way more customers who perhaps thought online shopping was not an option for them. Your customers will really appreciate this!

2. Recurring billing

You may have a few savvy customers who’ve been shopping online since they were born (yep, Generation Z we’re talking about you) and want a really convenient way to pay. This is where recurring billing could really work for you if you have a product or service that would require a monthly subscription from your customers. The is a GREAT way to get paid on time and have guaranteed monthly income. It also makes payments so much easier for your customers as they only need to enter their details once and then be billed automatically.

Now it’s time for some aesthetic aspects of your site you could tweak.

3. Find a Friend

The first thing you can do to find out where you can make changes to your site is asking someone (who is completely unfamiliar with your store) to make a purchase. Ask them to document where they hesitated or got lost (especially in the checkout process). These could be areas to improve on.

If you don’t have a friend then use HotJar which creates a heat map of your site so you can record and see where people navigate to the most and what they’re doing on your site. You get a 15-day free trial when you sign up so use that time to record as much as you can.

You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to make a purchase. Often things that seem obvious to you are not obvious to others. This is especially the case when you’ve spent every waking moment building your store. Sometimes you need to step away or ask an outsider to give you feedback.

4. Is your pricing simple enough?

This may seem like a silly thing to consider. However, making things easy for your customers includes how they ‘read’ your website. Having something priced at say ‘R102.78’ is a lot harder for our brains to ‘compute’ than say ‘R102.00’ or even R100.00.

Most customers abandon carts because of unexpected shipping costs (a whopping 60% in the US in 2017!). So try to factor shipping into your overall pricing and get a reliable and effective courier to handle the shipping of your products.

These small tweaks can make all the difference to whether someone actually clicks the ‘add to cart’ button. Speaking of buttons….

5. Nobody puts checkout buttons in a corner

Make sure your ‘add to cart/checkout’ buttons are loud and proud. Place them where they will be easily visible and change their colour so they stand out from the rest of the page. If you want to get really scientific about it use Google Optimize to run A/B tests to track which colour, button text and even location gets the most successful checkouts. It’s free!

90% of online purchases are emotional. We like to think that we make practical “I really do need this though” online purchases but the truth is we are all suckers for a slick layout and good branding. So entice your customers to click that button by placing it in visible, well-considered areas on your site.

6. Build Trust

When your customers do checkout (yay) make sure you put the payment step last. Imagine you were in a physical store and someone asked you for cash the moment you picked something up and put it in your trolley. Bit pushy right? Rather create a small connection initially by asking them for their shipping details first off. This will make them more likely to follow through with something big like making payment later. What’s more, NEVER force customers to create an account on your site in order to checkout. This is a sure way to lose a lot of potential sales. Always give an option for a ‘guest’ checkout.

These tiny tweaks all affect the emotional experience of your customer and will make them more likely to come back.

Of course your online store is never ‘finished’. There will always be changes and tweaks to make as you learn more and more about your customers. Don’t be afraid to change things up and implement new tools and strategies to optimize your store and business. Your customers will thank you for it.

Read the Heavy Chef / Payfast series on setting up your online store here: 

  1. Preparing your online store
  2. Setting up your online store
  3. Marketing your online store