How to make your first sale
You’ve signed up for Ecwid, set up your store, and added your products. Now comes the toughest part — getting your first sale. The first sale is a crucial milestone for every e-commerce business. It validates your idea — if you can sell to one person, you can also sell to thousands. It also gives you the confidence and motivation to pursue your business further.
On the technical side, a successful first sale means that everything (payment processing, email notifications, etc.) is working as planned. You can now take your store to the big leagues without worrying about things falling apart.
The question is: how do you get that coveted first sale? What channels do you focus on? Where do you find your initial customers? This guide will answer all these questions and more.
As a new store, your business is completely unknown to most of your customers. They’ve never heard about it from their friends, nor have they ever seen anyone mention it in the press. Some of them might even wonder if you’re a real business at all.
This lack of trust has a financial cost. Customers who don’t trust your store will be hesitant to buy from it. They’ll worry about the security of their payments, the quality of your products, and even the speed of your shipping provider.
To overcome this trust deficit, you have to create stronger “trust signals” on your store. These are elements that address pre-purchase fears, uncertainties, and doubts (FUDs). While they might alone not be enough to get you a sale, adding them to your store can ensure that you don’t lose a sale.
Social proof in the form of reviews and testimonials is crucial for building trust. However, since you don’t have any customers (yet), you can’t really collect reviews organically.
Solve this problem by partnering with influencers such as bloggers and social media celebs. Send them your products in exchange for positive feedback. Showcase this feedback on your product page in the form of testimonials.
In the absence of customer reviews, such public testimonials can be a powerful source of trust and social proof. They work particularly well since they are from an authoritative source — a popular influencer.
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Trust is a transferable quantity. When a trusted source recommends a product, some of their trustworthiness rubs off on the product as well.
Use this to your advantage by earning press mentions in respected blogs and publications. Cultivate relationships with journalists at these publications. Work with them to earn mentions in roundups or guest blogging spots.
Once you’ve earned a mention, make sure to showcase it on your site prominently. A common tactic is to create a “featured in” section on your site with logos of prominent publications you’ve been mentioned in.
Customers buying from a new e-commerce store are anxious about the product’s quality. While high-quality images, detailed descriptions, and positive testimonials can help, they don’t tell customers what would happen if the product turns out to be a dud.
You can solve this problem by offering customers easy, no questions asked returns. Pair it up with a 30-day guarantee and you will address most pre-purchase anxieties.
After all, if customers can return their purchase within 30 days, they don’t really stand to lose anything, even if they don’t like the product.
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In an age of online fraud and credit card theft, your customers are understandably worried about the security of their payments. When they see an unknown provider on the payment page, they might get queasy and quit the purchase altogether.
Fix this issue by switching to more reliable and better-known payment providers. Since customers are already used to seeing these providers in stores they frequent, they are more liable to trust them.
Your Ecwid store supports over 50 payment providers, including popular options like Stripe and Paypal. If your preferred provider isn’t listed above, you can also add any custom payment gateway. Refer to this article for more information.
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Free shipping or the lack of it is the biggest reason for shopping cart abandonment. It is a particularly thorny issue for new stores. Even if you offer free returns, customers might not order from you if they feel they’ll lose the shipping costs.
The only way to fix this issue is to offer free shipping. You can offer it on all products and market it as a special launch promotion.
News stories about data breaches and hacking are almost a weekly occurrence these days. Your customers are aware of these stories as well and are rightly wary of buying from an unknown site.
One way to reassure such customers is to put your site through a thorough security check and showcase the results. If the security clearance is from a trusted authority, it quickly tells customers that your site is secure.
Your Ecwid store supports McAfee’s TrustedSite security check. Clearing the test earns you a McAffee TrustedSite badge. Place this badge prominently on your site to reassure customers of their safety.
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Trust springs from authenticity. What is perceived to be real is also perceived to be more reliable. This is why doctors showcase their degrees and artisans display their guild memberships - it’s a sign that they are the real deal.
As a small business owner, authenticity is your super weapon. You can inspire a great deal of trust simply by telling people who you are. A compelling ‘About Us’ page, behind the scenes photos, pictures of your staff, etc. All of these tell customers that real people are running the business, not an anonymous corporation.
To create a stronger sense of authenticity on your store:
- Share your story, especially how and why you created your store and its products
- Share candid pictures of your staff and your work behind the scenes
- Be open and honest about your business. Share triumphs as well as failures in your blog and social media posts.
- Share your personal social media feed, especially anything public-facing like Twitter
Remember that your goal is primarily to show that you are a real business. While great copy and storytelling would be nice, it’s not a prerequisite. You’ll get equally good results simply by being your authentic self.
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Creating a better on-site experience gets you halfway to landing that first sale. The next half is all about placing your products before people who want to buy them.
When it comes to making your first sale, the two most important factors are relevance and timeliness.
Relevance dictates who wants your products, i.e. your target audience. A highly relevant audience is one that has a clear need or want for your products. Get yourself before this audience and you will find it easy to make your first sale.
Timeliness, on the other hand, dictates how soon someone wants your products. Sure, you might have a relevant audience, but if they don’t plan to buy for the next 6 months, you can’t hope to make a sale.
Getting your first sale, thus, is a two-part exercise:
- Target a relevant audience
- Focus on customers who want to buy now
Since our goal is to make the first sale, it is important to focus on e-commerce tactics that yield immediate results.
These are usually tactics that:
- Target customers close the decision stage of their buyer’s journey
- Can yield immediate results in terms of traffic and sales
- Allow for close targeting of relevant audiences
This rules out tactics such as SEO or organic social media. SEO might be targeted, but it takes too long to show results. On the other hand, organic social media is too untargeted to get that first sale quickly.
Keeping this in mind, let’s look at some high-impact e-commerce sales tactics that can help you make your first sale.
One of the fastest ways to make your first sale is by targeting platforms where buyers congregate, such as Amazon and eBay.
Since these are both e-commerce platforms, they tend to attract buyers, not just window shoppers. If you're searching for a product on Amazon, you're deep into the buyer's journey already. You know what you want and are likely comparing prices and options.
Shoppers such as these are very easy to convert into customers. They’re close to the purchase decision and only need a compelling push (price, quality, brand, etc.) to choose your product.
Niche communities on Reddit and Facebook are a great way to get your product before relevant audiences. Most of these communities tend to focus on specific pursuits. If these pursuits align with your products, you can easily land your first sale.
For example, if you’re selling dog collars, searching for “dog lovers” on Facebook will show you several relevant groups.
Similarly, you can use Reddit’s search feature to look up communities of dog lovers. Placing your product before this audience, either organically or via advertising, can help you get your first sale.
Facebook’s massive reach and treasure trove of customer data make it a powerful tool for getting your first sale. You can target users by location, demographics and interests — exactly as per your customer personas.
For better results, you can pair up a Facebook/Instagram campaign with a remarketing campaign. Remarketing, for the uninitiated, tracks people who viewed your ads or performed an action on your site (such as adding a product to cart). These people are then shown ads for your products across the web, including Facebook and Instagram. Repeated interactions increase the likelihood of landing a sale.
To reduce friction while selling on Instagram, you can create shoppable Instagram posts. With this feature, your Ecwid products can be bought directly from within Instagram. This can help you convert more visitors with minimal effort.
See these pages and apps to start your Facebook ad campaign:
A contest is a quick way to build up social buzz, collect emails, and gather followers. You can later tap your email list/followers to promote your products. Since this audience is already familiar with your brand (because of the contest), they are more likely to buy from you as well.
A pop-up store is a small physical store or kiosk usually set up in a high traffic area. Most pop-up stores are placed inside malls, but you can also place them inside trendy coffee shops, retailer stores, and even co-working spaces.
Running pop-stores might not be scalable, but it does give you immediate results. Besides sales, it can also help you gather valuable feedback directly from customers.
Consider this tactic if you:
- Have easy access to retail space in a high-traffic location
- Sell products with strong novelty value
- Sell products that need to be demonstrated in-person
The fastest way to get traffic to your store is to borrow it from people who already have tons of it - like influencers.
Influencer marketing is perfect for landing your first sale for three reasons:
- You can pick influencers who have the same audience as your target customers
- An endorsement from an influencer acts as compelling social proof
- Traffic from influencer mentions is instant
The influencer marketing process is straightforward: contact the influencer, negotiate a rate, and ask them to promote your product.
If you have traffic but no sales, consider offering a big discount to spur purchases. The discount might eat into your profit, but it can also help you build social proof and generate word-of-mouth.
To make the most of your discounts, add a referral program into the mix as well. Offer customers rewards — discounts, partner offers, or even cash - for referring their friends to you.
When done right, a competent referral campaign turns customers into salespeople. A happy customer might end up referring dozens of his friends, greatly increasing the impact of the initial discount.
Your Ecwid store gives you a lot of flexibility in creating discounts. You can create discount coupons by product, price, or value. You can also use apps like Gratisfaction to create referral programs.
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High-quality product images, detailed descriptions, comprehensive FAQs - all of these help address customer FUDs before the purchase decision.
But sometimes, your customers have queries your sales page does not answer.
In such cases, live chat can be a powerful tool for converting customers.
Live chat is much faster than email and more personalized than an automated phone helpline. It also has very little friction as a customer does not need to switch devices or open a new app to access live chat.
Consider adding live chat to your store to push hesitant customers towards their first purchase. You can learn more about Ecwid’s live chat supported tools here.
Making the first sale is the milestone that kicks off your brand’s e-commerce journey. Reaching it is the strongest validation that your business can actually succeed.
By building a trustworthy store and using relevant e-commerce marketing tactics, you can hit this milestone in no time.
Of course, pursuing your first sale shouldn’t mean that you can ignore long-term branding and sales channels. Run Instagram ads, but also create targeted content and win SEO traffic. Pursue both short and long-term tactics side-by-side to help your brand win sales and influence customers.