Ecommerce Q&A – How Can I Increase Sales On My e-Commerce Website?

Michael and Dillon from Sellry Commerce discuss how to increase sales! TRANSCRIPT Michael: Hello folks, and welcome to eCommerce QA. This is the podcast where store owners, directors of eCommerce and eCommerce managers can stay up-to-date on the latest tools and technologies in eCommerce. I’ll be joined on the show by my colleague and partner-in-crime, […]

November 5, 2015 13 mins
eCommerce Q&A
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Michael and Dillon from Sellry Commerce discuss how to increase sales!

Michael: Hello folks, and welcome to eCommerce QA. This is the podcast where store owners, directors of eCommerce and eCommerce managers can stay up-to-date on the latest tools and technologies in eCommerce. I’ll be joined on the show by my colleague and partner-in-crime, Dillon Holst. Our goal is to handle one or two questions per episode. You can check us out on the web at There, you will be able to get in touch, ask us questions, and just generally participate. Hey Dillon, how are you?

Dillon: Michael, I’m doing well. How are you today?

Michael: Surprisingly good. I think I’ve only downed, uh, two cups of coffee today?

Dillon: Ooh, that’s pretty good for a Friday. Not bad, not bad.

Michael: Yeah.

Dillon: Well, you and I were just talking about maybe the most basic question you could ask when it comes to e-Commerce, but maybe the most important question too. Which is, and it was kinda spawned by a core question, but: how can I increase sales on my e-Commerce website?

Michael: That’s such a good question. It’s easy to give a flippant answer, you know? Say, oh well, spend more on your google ads.

Dillon: Hm.

Michael: But that’s not really– I don’t think that’s really the question, right? I mean, that’s fine. We can talk about short term tactics, but most people listening to this– I mean, if you’re serious enough to listen to a podcast about e-Commerce, a lot of you I know you already– you guys have been in this game for a long time. You know, you’ve sacrificed to build a business; and it’s not a short term investment, it’s a long term play. And so I think, if you don’t mind, I’d like to look at this question from that standpoint of “how can we increase revenue in a sustainable way?”. Does that make sense?

Dillon: It does, it does. So, what is the main question we need to ask, then, with that in mind? Let’s refine that question a little bit.

Michael: Good.

Dillon: What should it actually be?

Michael: So, this is the question that I spent more time thinking about than any other question in e-Commerce, and it’s because of this issue, you know, that there’s all these short term tactics on how to grow your revenue and your sales.

Dillon: Mhm.

Michael: But, to me they all often seem gimmicky, and I feel like a lot of them are kind of short-term gain, long-term pain.

Dillon: Sure.

Michael: Like, for example, for all of those exit pop-ups and coupon pop-ups, and this is kinda just a silly example, but yeah they actually have been found to increase your conversions. But, they’re super annoying!

Dillon: Yeah.

Michael: So, the question that I’d like to go with, is “how do you create a satisfying purchasing experience?”

Dillon: Ok.

Michael: And the reason I want to phrase it that way is, a lot of people think about, well, “how can I please my customers” or “how can I impress my customers” or “how can I service my customers in the fastest way”, but the funny thing is that’s not always appropriate for your client base. In some scenarios, you don’t actually want to “please your customers” by offering all this white glove stuff and endless communication, and that’s not always appropriate.

Dillon: Sure.

Michael: And conversely, you definitely don’t want to just be minimalist in your approach. Like “oh, well I’m just gonna be respectful of my customers and never email them”, or something.

Dillon: Sure. So it’s like the right amount of communication.

Michael: Yeah. Think about the best experience you’ve ever had at a restaurant, you know. The waiter was key, right? Like, the waiter knew when to show up, knew when to talk, and when to just not be there at all. And the most important thing was what they didn’t talk about, but what they did. They saw you had a need, they filled the need, they got out of the way. And maybe they were funny, you know? Or maybe they weren’t. And that had a lot to do with you as a person, and whether you – what type of waiter you like, what type of restaurant you like. But the point is, the end goal is always the same. To satisfy a customer in the context of a purchase. And I’m not talking about lifetime customer value– we’ll talk about that another time– I’m talking about within a particular transactional context, how can we satisfy that customer?

Dillon: Ok, so give us an example, maybe of a purchasing experience that did that for you. You felt like they had the right amount of communication, and you felt comfortable in the scenario.

Michael: Hm, good question. I’m thinking of, uh, the time I bought my first guitar. It was at a pretty famous guitar shop in Carlsbad, California, called Buffalo Brothers Guitars. They had this funky buffalo-lookin’ thing, and it was just one of those quirky places that is out of the way and if you know about it, you’re passionate about it. So here’s how it went: I already knew I wanted to buy a guitar. I didn’t know exactly how much I wanted to spend, but I had saved my pennies for a long time, and I think I was 14.

Dillon: Wow.

Michael: There was kinda four stages. I went there –obviously, I had to be driven there– so there was the context of actually being there, and the time that I spent there. There was the introduction that I felt, and kind of the warmth and welcome that I felt, even the smell of the guitars, you know? There’s a lot of pro musicians playing there, so it’s like, it feels like this cool place to be if you’re into guitars at all. The third stage was the interaction I had with the sales rep, who was extremely nice, he was a player himself, he wasn’t pushy at all. But he helped guide me towards a purchase decision through first qualifying me to make sure I actually there to make a purchase rather than just look; second, helping feel out what my options were, what my criteria were, what things I liked. Shepherding me towards those options that actually met those criteria and then shortlisting it from there. And then finally leaving me to make the decision, and uh, you know, helping me with the questions associated with that. The fourth stage was obviously the transaction, but that feels like downhill. I mean, by that point it’s like– it’s almost like when somebody’s ready to buy, unless you deliberately get in their way, you’ve got a sale. So the most important part is not optimizing your checkout, it’s not getting your pop-ups to work just right, it’s about creating a place that people want to be, and actually giving them tracks to run on to make that purchase. It’s not one or the other. Like, you can’t just make a nice website, you can’t just make a sales-y website, it has to be a nice, sales-oriented website.

Dillon: Yeah, makes sense. And you could argue that each one of those points directly were still a part of the transactional process, in a sense.

Michael: Totally.

Dillon: So, when you’re thinking about creating a satisfying purchasing experience, the entire thing is essentially the transaction. It comes down to the entire process. Was it a comfortable experience, was it something that a customer would want to repeat? So yeah, totally makes sense. Maybe tell us a little bit about, in the context of e-Commerce since that’s what we’re talking about here today, tell us a little bit about– what’re the easiest ways you can utilize some of those concepts on the internet?

Michael: Good. So, actually, we have a course on this, you can take it. If you go to, it’s a course that we offer. It’s a free course, an e-mail course, about how to make these satisfying purchasing experiences. So I’m gonna pull a little bit from that. Let’s talk about a few different scenarios. Luxury purchase, ok? For luxury items, you have to reflect the fact that everything about the purchase is luxurious, right? So, you’re gonna have good design, you’re gonna have high resolution photos, you want the models –if it’s a, you know, a consumer facing item– you want them to feel like they can relate to the way those people look. That’s how you’d create that experience, so it’s very much contextual. Um, contrast that very strongly to an economy purchase. This is people, they need to get in, they need to get out, they’re really just shopping on the price basis. So think about that, that’s going to be a lot of navigational UI you’re gonna do, think about Amazon’s one button that you click to find everything.

Dillon: Sure.

Michael: That whole “I go here, I find the thing, it’s cheap”, that’s what people will be satisfied with. If you think about Wal-Mart, what’s their value prop? Wal-Mart’s value prop is, you know, “save money, live better” I think. So, their value proposition has nothing to do with their products, it’s all about how little you have to spend on their products.

Dillon: Hm.

Michael: And they just want to get out of the way, right? Like, here’s the product, you can buy it, we’re decently nice, and there you go. You could contest that point if you wanted, I’ve been to some great Wal-Marts and some terrible ones. Um, think about a specific case here, health and wellbeing purchases. People here, I mean if you’re buying shoes that’s one thing, but if you’re buying something that’s gonna affect your health and maybe your work productivity, or something like that, you need reassurance. You need an abundance of trust signals. You need to know that whatever you’re buying is not gonna hurt you. I mean, if you’re buying supplements online, that means you probably didn’t— you’re trying to save money, right? But you can’t just buy a bottom of the barrel supplement, everybody knows that, you know? So that trust signal is really important.

Dillon: Mhm.

Michael: Think about a utility purchase. This would be, you know, if you have to buy something for your business or you need to buy something for your car, let’s say a part. This is all about specific information and this is probably the most left brain of all the examples I’m gonna give; it’s all about “does it meet these stringent criteria?”, and if you can do that, done. Sold! So, I’ll give you one more scenario and then we’ll wrap. Uh, and this is kinda a funny one, but think about hipster purchases. You know? And I’m saying that toungue-in-cheek, but this is where you got the site that has the gothic-looking guy wearing jeans. And there’s no buy button, it’s just like “view the story” and then, maybe there’s no price listed anywhere and you just click buy. And it’s all about the ethos of associating with “this is the type of product I want in my life”—

Dillon: Sure, yeah.

Michael: —“I don’t care about how much it costs, you know? I don’t care about how hard your checkout is, I mean, don’t bother me”. Think about the context you’re providing your customers, think about how satisfied they’re going to be going through the process of purchasing. And one more thing, it doesn’t just end at the sale. It ends when the transactional flow is fully complete; that’s actually after the sale. So, in this day and age you want to send them an email after ten days and say “hey, how did everything end up? Give us a review”. The whole transactional process needs to be pleasant. And if you can nail that, ultimately, you’re going to maximize your e-Commerce revenue more than any other tactic that I’m aware of.

Dillon: Real quick before we finish up, are there any resources people should look at in terms of learning how to automate emails correctly?

Michael: Yeah, there’s actually quite a few, it’s just gonna depend in some ways on your platform. So, what you want to look for is a transactional email platform that allows you to do things like abandoned cart emails, and reminder emails, maybe some personalization. So, Windsor Circle is a really good retention-oriented platform that you should look into.

Dillon: Ok.

Michael: And there’s one other thing that I want to share before we wrap, which is you can kind of tell –not fully– but you can kind of tell how happy people are with their time on your site by using tools that show you how they’re using it. Um, that sounded funny.

Dillon: But it makes sense. I mean, can you list an example of something, uh, you know, an app that does that?

Michael: Yeah, it’s an app I’m thinking of called Hotjar; and everybody knows about Crazy Egg, that’s the heatmapping.

Dillon: Right.

Michael: Well this one does heatmapping and a lot of other stuff too. It allows you to see the heatmaps, which is— it shows you where users are moving their cursor and spending time on and clicking on. It also can record the actual motion of the user, their cursor or the mobile scrolling on the page, in a little video. And, you know, the other thing is you can, through this app, you can put out little polls on your site that people are going to be able to take. And maybe you could say, you know, after the checkout, “how was that checkout process? Was that cool, was that easy?”

Dillon: Sure.

Michael: And you don’t want to inundate people with requests to give you data, but you do, you know, want to try and test that.

Dillon: Sure, yeah.

Michael: So, check out Hotjar.

Dillon: So, another easy way to, you know, kinda measure and figure out whether or not what you’ve set up for creating that satisfying purchasing experience is actually working and will maybe give you some ideas on how you can refine your process to get it closer to what your customers are looking for. All right, well we’re going to have links to the email course that Michael was talking about, and Hotjar and also Windsor Circle in the podcast notes. So, be sure to check those out, and thanks for listening, folks. We’ll be back next week for e-Commerce Q&A number 3.

Michael: Thanks, folks. Talk to you soon.

Here’s a list of all the platforms we talked about!

  1. Windsor Circle –
  2. Hotjar –
  3. Email Course –