April 20th, 2011 by Kyle West
I have sold, or helped others sell, tens-of-millions worth of parts online. Because of that experience I’m frequently asked “how do I grow my online sales?” There is no silver bullet, but there are two fundamentals you must know and master. Without these, nothing else matters.
Product trumps everything. Successful e-commerce operations excel at merchandising: selecting the right products, displaying them properly, providing the best information about them, and pricing them competitively. If you haven’t covered those 4 steps yet stop reading right now and get to work.
RPMWare makes it incredibly easy for you to sell parts from 218 different brands, but that doesn’t mean you should. Sell what you know in markets you understand. A Honda shop isn’t going to sell many parts to BMW owners, so limit your catalog and focus on your core. Only expand after you have mastered your current catalog, and do it slowly.
RPMWare meets these requirements out of the box — our catalog is packed with tons of information from all the manufactures we support. We’re constantly improving the catalog and updating it daily.
To set your site apart consider using
SEO Extensions to fine tune product descriptions, page titles, and
Pricing is extremely important. You don’t have to be cheapest, but you do need to be competitive. Even your most loyal customers will look elsewhere when your pricing deviates too far from the norm. If you’ve followed my advice so far and selected the right products you’re ahead of the game — you know your main competitors and you know the going rates.
If you’re already getting thousands of unique visitors a day and selling six-figures a month you don’t need this. If not, like most of us, you need to do some (more) promotion.
The most common misconception I hear is: opening an online store immediately opens a floodgate of orders, new customers, and untold riches. In reality, opening an online store is more like dropping a penny in the middle of a NASCAR race — nobody notices, or cares. It’s up to you to make them notice, and to make them care.
Grabbing attention is the easier of the two, there are a million ways to promote your business both online and off.
Your specific business and market will dictate the best options, but whichever you pick make sure you track your results and adjust as necessary. It’s very easy to burn cash with no results. The key is to identify and continue what works; eliminate what doesn’t.
I see a lot of promotions along the lines of “We have an online store; come check it out.” These are fatally flawed by a simple, brutal truth: nobody cares about you or your business.
You’re not reading this post because you care about me or what I have to say. You’re reading it because you want to improve your business. You’re reading it because I am (hopefully) giving you something you need to make that happen — I am helping you achieve your goal.
Your customers are no different. They want you to help them achieve their goal and will respond well if you reach out to do so. Don’t promote yourself, promote what you offer your customers.
These fundamentals should be at the core of your online store. Executed well, they will grow your business. From here the possibilities expand dramatically because every subsequent move builds on a strong foundation.
I’m interested to hear what you think and what your results are once you address these points. Please let me know in the comments.