The holidays are over and as most retailers close out their busiest quarter of the year, it’s a great time for catch-up, introspection, and to decide where you’ll focus your business-growing efforts in 2017.

Here are four fast ideas to help get you started:

1. Grow Your Conversion Rate

How often are you looking at your conversion rate?  How often should you be?

Conversion rate is an important metric and you should be watching it closely (I recommend weekly at a minimum).  You should have two numbers in your head: a benchmark and a goal.  That is, you should know at what percentage you typically convert and at what percentage you’d like to convert.

It’s easy sometimes to set unrealistic goals, especially with analytics metrics.  Make 2017 successful by making your goal attainable.  If you need help finding a reasonable metric, Monetate has solid resources that show conversion rates by industry.

Now that you have a goal in mind – think about how you are going to get there (note: wishful thinking is not enough).  You should think “big”– including large site changes that will improve your user experience.  But you can also hit the ground running by coming up with a testing plan.  Small conversion optimization tests help you see incremental growth with minimal effort – check out tools like Optimizely to help you do it without any programming.


2. Merchandise for Money

In a perfect world, your top selling products would also yield your highest margin.  But that’s not always the case.  Sometimes, when we’re managing products day-to-day, it’s easy to get wrapped up in sales numbers.  We love when higher-priced products sell because our top line goes up.

Sales growth is great, but profit growth is better.  Take a hard look at your product collection and their individual margins – is your highest priced product your most profitable?  Where should your focus be in 2017?  As you think critically about this, you may find few things:

  1. A top-performing product has eroding margins and needs to be repriced or removed
  2. A top-performing product with good margins has potential for additional sales and needs to be featured more prominently on the site.
  3. A low-performing product has great margins but is not living up to its potential and it needs to be featured more prominently on the site.
  4. A low-performing product with a below average margin needs to be removed from your collection.


3. Embrace Free Shipping

My clients often hear me say: “It’s Amazon’s world, and we’re just living in it.”

That means consumers have developed an expectation for fast, free shipping.  A Shippo survey last year confirmed that– with 88 percent of respondents saying it was an important online buying incentive.  That’s 8 points higher than it was in 2014; you can expect that number to continue to grow.

Despite this, even today, I see businesses fight the idea of free shipping.  I don’t have research to share on this (I wish I did), but I think they have a psychological block on the idea of “giving away” shipping.  Yet often, these same retailers are quick to offer large discounts to close the deal.  These same people are likely also consumers who seek out free shipping for their own purchases.

If you’re still not convinced that free shipping is for you in 2017, try running a test to see if (all else equal), offering it improves your conversion rate.


4. Build (or Revisit) Your Transactional Communications

I love email automation – a lot.  Transactional automations are among my favorite because they are an easy win for retailers of all sizes.

Emails triggered based on purchase behavior have insanely high open and click-through rates, but did you know they also have a higher revenue per email than the promotional campaigns you’re sending?

Here are some things to think about adding to your mix in 2017:

  1. Shipping Notifications. This isn’t hard if you set it up within your operational system, and it provides a better experience for the customer.
  2. Personalized Recommendations. You’re already sending order confirmations, so why not recommendations based on their purchase?  There are plenty of plug-ins or 3rd party tools that can help you accomplish this.
  3. Product Reviews. This is probably the most important user-generated content on your site, but it can be slow to grow if you aren’t pushing your customers to it.  One of the tools I’m working on implementing for a client now is YotPo, and the reason I love them is they solicit the product reviews in-email (meaning they don’t have to click back to the site).

That’s your “fast four” for 2017.

Cheers to a successful 2017 for you and your business.

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