How to succeed in the online retail business

Small Business Guides

4 min read

Online retail is an exciting space. But it can be a daunting task to stand out from the crowd – and offering customers something unique is vital. So how can small businesses find a way to stay competitive online?

Small business online retail tips

In this article, online retail business LIFEwithBIRD shares tips for being a successful online store. Find out how they use technology like add-on business applications to help customer loyalty, and their tips for keeping customers happy.

Q: How do you attract visitors to your site?

We use many different marketing tools to attract visitors to our site. These include social media channels such as Facebook, and using the relationships we’ve built with magazines and bloggers. To align ourselves with fashion influentials such as bloggers and artists, we use a PR agency based in Sydney.

Given that we are a fashion label makes it much easier as well, as we have a strong product to offer – one which our audience is accustomed to.

Our internal marketing team does a great job at keeping the communication lines open with our customers, creating the entire LIFEwithBIRD experience.

Q: How do you write copy that sells the product?

The copy we write sells the product by staying true to the LIFEwithBIRD tone – one that is not intrusive or pushy. We use a similar tone with customers when shopping at our brick and mortar stores, which is light, easy and always helpful.

Q: What tips would you give others starting out in the online retail space?

  • Stay passionate, as that is what ends up driving you and your business.
  • Stay creative, push boundaries and always look for inspiration everywhere you go.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. What you are doing is what sets you apart from the bunch.
Stay creative, push your boundaries and always look for inspiration everywhere you go.

Q: How do you optimise your online store and increase conversion rates?

By keeping up to date with technology and using our analytics to find ways to improve the site to create the best experience. For instance, we noticed how much our phones and mobile tablets are in our hands and realised the need for us to create an online site specifically for our mobile customers. The site was launched and within one day we noticed that sales derived from our mobile platform made up 30%-35% of all sales which was a great result!

Q: Any search engine optimisation tips you use that small businesses can take note of?

Stand out from your competition and try to find meaningful ways to enhance your search engine optimisation (SEO). We know the importance of creating meaningful content (image and copy), always updating and paying close attention to our community.

Q: What's a good tip for a first-timer in the online retail business?

Build a platform that is specific to what you want your audience to do. If the outcome is to shop and buy, be sure to choose the correct online CMS and design the site to enhance the customer shopping experience. Make it as easy and dummy-proof as possible.

Q: You have add-on business applications – how do they work with online retail?

We needed add-on applications that integrated with our accounting software – these had to be cloud-based. A business like ours, which is all online, needs software that’s easily integrated and simple to use.

We can export our customer base in the add-on app, then import it to Mailchimp. MailChimp is a service used to create, send, and track email newsletters weekly. These customers receive updates every other week with links to our online store. The customers have the choice to view items that are exclusive to the online world (such as pre-orders).

Q: How do you use technology to help with customer loyalty?

We have add-on apps for this too. The data we gather from the apps is used to keep in touch with the customer and tailor their shopping experience. The more information we can gather the better.

We communicate with customers through our EDM, social media tools and through our retail store staff.

Q: Do you have a golden rule about how many clicks a customer should take to make a purchase?

From the point items are in a cart and ready for purchase there should be a three to four step process, tops. Any more than that and this may cause the customer to leave.

Q: What’s your best single tip for keeping customers happy and retaining them?

Provide great customer service and create an online community that they’ll want to be a part of.

Just like LIFEwithBIRD, make sure your small business is doing all it can to stay competitive in retail e-commerce. When your business can be adaptable and take advantage of online business tools, it’s sure to stand the test of time.