Incentives Can Increase Sales

Incentives Can Increase Sales
People are always looking for something special, something their friends do not have, or they want something their friends do not have. They want a deal. It goes back to the ‘men hunting’ and ‘women gathering’ instincts. We just want to find the brass ring so we can show off to our friends.

Shopping behaviour is subject to limitless marketing surveys and tracking reports. There are some common denominators. Only 34 percent pay full price when shopping online. Only 12 percent hunt for the perfect item, despite the price. Saving time is important for 55 percent of consumers and saving money is important to 46 percent. At least 44 percent use comparison-shop sites to help them make a decision.

Promotional Merchandising
E-tailers developed dozens of successful tactics to stop a web surfer between websites and convince them to buy. The number one incentive is free shipping. Customer surveys suggest that many consumers prefer free shipping over lower prices. 

Next is a free gift with purchase, as long as this gift is a product the person can hold, not an ebook or free newsletter subscription. 

Coupons are also popular and can be used to promote the online store, as well as lure in potential customers. Customers are still lured by the limited time deal. Email can capture impulse buyers, but only if they include a valuable purchase.

Shopper Expectations
Customers have developed certain expectations. They expect promotions to always be available. They expect online stores to offer better prices than brick-and-mortar. One way to avoid having incentives from eroding the bottom line is to offer the best incentives to loyal members. 
Behind-the-scene promotional tools are popular. Merchant shopping carts encourage shoppers to sign up for the ‘best deals.’

Managing Shipping
Incentives do have a cost, even if it is only in bandwidth. Free shipping can be expensive, especially if it is ‘non-exclusive’ to certain areas. Very few ecommerce websites offer an unlimited, unconditional free shipping policy. 
In-store pickup is a feasible option. Surprisingly, many consumers will spend more in gas than they would in shipping, just to visit the store. This can open up opportunities to offer in-house deals. 

Outlet Selling
Many e-tailers have adopted retails most successful tactic, the outlet store. These are dedicated clearance areas. They offer “Deal of the Day” promotions and clearances to lure customers into selling. 

These outlets can centre around a coupon distribution section. In fact, some online stores are building coupon sites instead of shopping carts with the option of redeeming the coupon. These sites can be used for market testing, price testing, and honing keywords or products for a target market. 

Members Group
There should be a definite tiered structure of customers. Some e-tailers have realized the importance of community building and article writing. They let their members earn points while they participate in the community. These points can be redeemed for an upgrade to a higher member level, or a discount on a product. 
Members benefits can also extend to affiliate marketing, and partner relationships that let people take part in the business with the purpose of earning an income. Very few members will start their own business. Most just want the illusion that they are an integral part of the corporation. 

Free Samples
Free samples do not always need to cost a lot. They can be added to a purchase, or offered free if the customer pays for shipping. 
Another incentive could be access to a completely private section of the online store where the consumer receives greater discounts. 

Internet strategies should be developed based upon the company’s strengths and the level of risk the consumer takes.


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