How to Sell: 10 Strategies for Your Online Shop

We all know what makes a great salesman in “real” life. Some of these behavior patterns can also be applied to your virtual sales platform. Here are some tips on how to boost sales for your online shop – with somewhat unconventional methods.

These tips are based on examples from online shops at home and abroad, who have developed particularly creative ways to gain new customers.

Important: Not all of the solutions shown can be implemented with simple technical means, e.g. with the use of standard plugins. These examples are meant as inspiration for you to think about similar sales concepts. The industry sector or product group has no impact on the actual idea. Almost every one of these examples can be applied to other types of shops.

1. Don’t Just List Things – Present Them!

We all know these situations, even if they have become quite rare: The sales person behind the counter can tell you so much about a product that we feel really comfortable buying it – without feeling the need to shop around for that elusive lower price offer somewhere else.

The online shop (via operates exactly according to that principle. There offer exclusive product descriptions that are most certainly not run off a mill.

The product presentation at betabrand. With plenty of attention to detail.
The product presentation at betabrand. With plenty of attention to detail.

Individual infographics for each item, details on their finish and care tips, a little story about each product, exceptionally well made product images, and of course the exciting crowd funding approach with artificially created supply bottlenecks: All that makes the shopping experience a “real” experience. The user feels like a true customer, even though he is only looking at a screen.

2. The Voice of the Customer – a Hamburg-based supplier of nut mixes – has come up with a fresh new take on customer opinions (aka testimonials). Celebrity customers are not only introduced with a full profile of their sports activities, we also find out about their favorite products. A small detail that adds charm – not many shops go to that length.

Testimonials don't have to be stuffy and boring – as the KERNenergie aptly demonstrates.
Testimonials don’t have to be stuffy and boring – as the KERNenergie online shop so aptly demonstrates.

And there are more sections of the shop that make a visit fun, informative, and provide the necessary shop SEO. There is a recipe database, some sort of a nut Wikipedia, and a lexicon of ingredients. (Found via

3. Crowd Market Research

The Grommet is based near Boston, and encourages their customers to submit product ideas with surprising success. The best ideas go straight into production and have their buyers already waiting. An idea like this can only be implemented on the basis of strong customer relations, but the concept can – to some extent – be applied for all kinds of markets, as Tchibo Ideas has proven.

The best products and ideas are introduced in an image gallery.
The best products and ideas are introduced in an image gallery.

The Bow & Drape online shop has gone down a pretty similar route. On offer are garments you can design yourself. The results are modeled by their proud customers. Customer loyalty is pretty much guaranteed, and the concept inspires ever new users.

Customers present themselves and the products they purchased.
Customers present themselves and the products they purchased.

4. The Shop as a Community (via takes that idea even further. The US-based online shop has initiated their very own customer program entitled “Be the Buyer” that involves their community. And it does so across large parts of the value add chain – from research to purchasing and the development of their product offering.

The customer community covers a large part of the value-add chain.
The customer community covers a large part of the value-add chain.

For this to work, you need a sophisticated customer base and the courage to truly respect the decisions of your community members. Some aspects of the program could be tested out in advance, for example within the scope of a limited beta phase.

5. Transparency & Trust

Customers increasingly want to know where products come from and how they are manufactured. This can be an important issue – in particular young startup shops with an own or exclusive product range – and can help build the necessary customer trust.

The manufacturer of bespoke shoes, Shoes of Prey, uses a detailed video that allows a closer look behind the scenes. The entire manufacturing process is explained in conjunction with detailed descriptions. (Found via

How is a product made? More and more consumers want to know.

Similar videos can be produced for virtually any sector to help answer the most important customer questions. A movie message is significantly more personal than an FAQ website, but combining the two may also be something to think about. Information provided purely in text form, however, has its SEO advantage.

Tip: The video quality doesn’t have to be perfect if you want to offer a bit of a personal insight into your business. Much more important are the messages conveyed by your protagonists – these should offer value and not just blatant marketing drivel.

6. The Voice of the Supplier

For those of you, who don’t or only in part manufacture your own products: let your suppliers explain what they do. How did they come up with their business idea What makes their product special? What raw materials are used in production? And just like point 5: The more personal and honest the look behind the scenes, the better.

If you can do that as beautifully as the mail order house for specialty foods Foodvibes, then the conviction of your suppliers will be convincing for your customers:

Suppliers will very happy about an exciting presentation. Your customers will be too.
Suppliers will very happy about an exciting presentation. Your customers will be too.

7. Ideas & Lifestyle Tips – not Products

A lot of online shop operators get stuck in a rut because of their many years doing what they do. They present their products, but forget to offer ancillary information. Or to present possible scenarios of their use. Here is how to do it right: Woofshack, an online shop for dog paraphernalia and outdoor equipment explains about latest dog sport trends. There is plenty of information – from dog trekking to more obscure pastimes like “bikejöring” or “dogscooting”.

Lifestyle insights instead of dry product presentations – that is what makes Woofshack stand out.

Old as well as new prospective customers will be enticed to find out more about the products they need or want. This approach will help promote customer loyalty and boost cross selling turnover as well. Your customer will want to come back to your online shop if they feel they might find some new ideas for a hobby there.

8. Showing Responsibility

“Telling the story” is the motto of amodini, an online shop for hand-made Fair Trade products. This shop takes the idea of point 6 one step further when it comes to responsibility for suppliers and the production chain.

Their integrated blog offers travel reports to the various regions in India and stories about the manufacturing companies there. Wouldn’t you prefer buying from a trader, who has a proven track record of supporting his suppliers? One thing is clear: This type of philosophy must match your own convictions. It is not an approach that can be faked. Nevertheless: a beautiful idea with far reaching effects beyond the actual online shop.

Manufacturer trip
Visits to exotic India – with first hand travel reports.

9. Support for the Customer

Sometimes it’s just the little things that make buying a positive experience. Just like in the case of Weddington Way, a supplier of bridal gowns and accessories. The shop works with carefully placed and selected infographics and icons across all sections of the shop to help customers decide on particular products:

Different icons for each body type: Shopping made easy.

A post regarding how to take body measurements correctly can be found in practically any fashion online shop today. Another great idea would be to create icons within the categories and the product characteristics as well that will help guide your customer in finding the perfect item.

10. Content First

The makers of dreizehn° – a community for wine connoisseurs – take a completely different approach. For them, the online shop is not at the forefront of their operations. Instead, they provide plenty of information and content on the topic of “wine”. The portal does recommend traders, but shop components are only planned in the future.

Community instead of shop. With a potential to become much more.

It is probably the most costly and work-intensive idea there is to start an online shop via the content approach. Bloggers in particular may be most likely to accept a later inclusion of shop content. The advantage here: You can find out beforehand what people are really interested in.

Also: a platform based on this concept will have its own USP right from the get-go. The main body of work for the marketing of the shop, i.e. content marketing, will be as good as finished before you start selling. And if need be, you could market the content using external online marketing (via meinstartup).

Important: All of the examples introduced here will work only on the basis of good customer relations. None of them will work without a personal touch. They are strategic approaches in a sense, but they must be backed up by personal convictions on your part to allow them to truly develop their full potential.

You can find more information about these approaches here:

What do you think about the shops and strategies we talked about? Could you see yourself incorporating some of the components in your own online shop? We look forward to your feedback and comments.

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Editor at MarketPress. Passionate blogger, corporate blog expert and book author (e.g. "Blog Boosting"). Co-organizer of WP Camp Berlin.

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