Communication is Key When Selling Online

Some entrepreneurs come up with start up plans to sell products online. Doing so would, in their opinion, save considerable costs as compared with a brick and mortar store. Furthermore, with the inclusion in the team of someone with experience in brick and mortar retailing, they feel confident with their idea. Building in, say, a 10% discount on the price sold at brick and mortar stores, the team feel that their estimated sales revenue for the year is reasonable and achievable. They do their sums and, presto, their business plans indeed show the venture to be viable. Then they proceed to try to sell their products online say through an e-commerce website. After a while, they realize that their sales projection are way too optimistic. So is it a situation of overly optimistic sales expectation or something else?

In my opinion, the main issue relates to communication. In a brick and mortar store, consumers could enter the premises, see, touch and feel the products they are interested in. Features of the product including its quality of the product or even lack of it would be communicated in an experiential manner to the consumer. Of course, certain details like the product being made of genuine cow leather, for instance,would have to be provided in writing or verbally by the salesperson. Thus the consumer, in deciding whether to make the purchase or not, would be making an informed decision.

However trying to sell the product online is a different matter altogether. How do you show what a hotel room looks like? By using a photograph, of course. Imagine the hotel has a suite with 2 rooms, one for young children. Would a simple photograph displaying the furniture in the children’s room like the one for adults above be adequate? The answer is no!. The photograph showing only the furniture would not be able to convey their cuteness to attract the young children. What would make the room more enticing would be to show the size of the adult furniture compared with the endearing items in the children’s room.

When browsing an e-commerce website, one could see photos of the products on sale. However in many cases, little or no attempts had been made by the people behind the products to convey their key attributes and attractiveness. Furthermore, the titles and descriptions of the products leave a lot to be desired. Some titles contain only the name of the product and repeated likewise in the description. How then could the consumer make an informed decision to purchase the product? It is not certain whether the people behind these products could not be bothered or lack the communication skills. What is certain though is that these items would fail to sell well compared with those which communicate their merits better.

What is needed is to communicate using photographs and written text to give sufficient details to substitute what one cannot duplicate with a brick and mortar store.

How could one better communicate through photographs the merits of the products that are offered online? Firstly the photograph of the product should look professional and not look like one taken by someone casually using a mobile phone. Secondly use photographs to convey the attractiveness of the items appropriately just like the example of showing adult furniture in a children’s room. Thirdly, take shots from different angles to give viewers a better feel of the product.

The next step would be to improve the written text to guide consumers to make an informed decision. For the title, one should expand on it to include the key features or attributes of the product. For instance, a better title could be “Premium Quality Cow Leather Handbag” instead of just “Leather Handbag”. There is scope to make use of appropriate adjectives like prestigious, attractive, exquisite, etc in the title. However, one should not overly exaggerate the merits of the product.

Descriptions provide an opportunity for one to elaborate on the features of the product. For instance, a better description than just repeating the title could be “Big enough to store all your essentials and yet sufficiently compact to carry around”. Therefore one should use descriptions to one’s advantage. Similar to title, one should not go overboard in the exaggeration.

Therefore hesitate before faulting the poor sales achievement on incorrect forecasts made. Instead look at the way in which one had been marketing the products. Thus making effort to better communicate the merits of the product would go a long way to improving sales online.


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