Why You Need to Think Like a Buyer

Remember the old saying that to catch a thief, you must think like a thief? The same approach works for snaring Shopify shoppers. The more you understand how your buyers think, the easier it will be to sell them your items — and the better you will become at doing so.

Buy, Buy, Baby

Start by buying a few things on your store. Any items will do, but you can score a double whammy if you buy something from a competitor: In addition to analyzing your reactions to the transaction, you’ll find out what kind of buying experience your competition gives.

Once you’ve got several buyer experiences under your belt, note what you liked and didn’t like about each transaction, from finding and purchasing the item all the way through to receiving and unboxing it. (Be sure to leave feedback for your sellers!)

Keywords Are Key

For starters, what made you click on a particular listing?

It probably was the title, which came up in search results based on what you typed into the search field — i.e., your keywords. What keywords would a buyer use to find your item? Those words should be in your title.

Look at Sold items to see which keywords seem to sell most effectively. If you need more inspiration, try Google’s free Keyword Planner. Or just check out Amazon’s search bar, which suggests additional keywords when you type in an initial query.

1 Picture = 1,000 Words

Another reason you clicked on a certain listing may have been its gallery picture. What kinds of photos were in the listings from which you purchased? Do they spark any ideas you could apply to photographing your own items, such as an eye-catching pose? Remember, don’ts can be as useful as do’s

Avoiding SNADs (Items Significantly Not As Described)

Now let’s move on to the description. Does yours answer all of the questions a potential buyer might ask? When you get questions from buyers, do you consider adding the answers to your description? You should.

If you asked questions during your own buying journey, were the answers prompt, professional, and to the point? Yours should be.

When it comes to describing an item, thinking like a buyer means addressing that item’s benefits as well as its features. What need is a buyer looking to fill, and how does your product serve that need? For example, if you’re selling a bed pillow, you’ll want to list its dimensions but also emphasize the good night’s sleep it provides.

Customer Service is Crucial

Next, consider terms of sale. Did you buy anything from a seller whose listing was full of negative verbiage? And how do you feel about buying from a seller who doesn’t accept returns? Did you prefer your purchases to include free shipping?

Just like Mother always told you, it’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. Keep your terms of sale simple and positive.

Allowing returns boosts buyer confidence. If you can offer free returns, so much the better; then buyers can shop risk free. The increased sales volume you’ll gain will more than offset the cost of accepting returns, free or not.

As for free shipping, think like a buyer again: Do you enjoy doing math, or would you rather see just one cost for an item?

If you’re not sure you can afford to do free shipping, try an A-B test: List an item with free shipping (i.e., with the shipping cost folded into the price) and without (i.e., with the shipping cost as a separate line item). See which sells best.

The Unboxing Experience

Finally, when your store’s purchases arrived, how were they packaged? A well-packed and attractively presented item invariably makes a better impression than that same item tossed any which way into a used pizza box.

In sum, thinking like a buyer basically comes down to the Golden Rule: Do unto your customers as you would have other sellers do to you when you are their customer. Think like a buyer, and you’ll profit as a seller.

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Getting Your Ecommerce Business Ready for Q1

It’s the start of the new year’s first month — the first month of the first quarter. You’d better be sure that your ecommerce business is ready! That means having concrete, measurable goals in mind for Q1. Quarterly goals are crucial for your business, because taken together, they add up to the annual goals you’ve set.

In fact, Fast Company (the world’s leading progressive business magazine) says that setting 90-day goals is usually more successful as well as easier to achieve, because those goals feel more immediate and attainable. That conveniently aligns with the four-quarter business year.

Off to a Good Start

When it comes to goals for any new year, the first quarter is always particularly significant, because it sets the pace for that year. Q1 lays the foundation on which to base the rest of the year; it also sets the groundwork in place for eventually meeting or adjusting your annual goals and metrics. 

Some factors don’t change much from year to year. In general, January is a slow period following the holiday hurly-burly. This is the time you should try to clear out all of your leftover holiday items with steep discounts and markdowns. Christmas sells all year round in ecommerce, but unless Christmas is one of your niches, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to see those products in your store for the next several months. Mark them down, get them sold, and move on to bringing out new stock for the new year!

Now is also the time to take notes on what worked — and what didn’t work — during the 2018 holiday selling season. Did your marketing prove to be effective? Did you have too much in stock, or not enough? How should you adjust your purchase orders for 2019?


This is also the time for a financial review of your ecommerce business overall: everything from 2018’s cash flow and profit and loss statements to projecting year-end sales to getting organized for tax time. Review your income and expenses; analyze your business’ performance in 2018, and decide which areas need tweaking. For example, do you need to adjust what you spent on inventory? 

Take a look at last year’s goals as well; did you achieve them, exceed them, or fall short?

Know Your Numbers

The most essential metrics for any ecommerce business owner to keep an eye on are total sales revenue; gross and profit margins; overhead costs; and monthly profits or losses. You should know these numbers and set very specific goals for the new year based on your size and product mix. Maybe you want to grow sales by 5% year over year, or grow revenue by 10%. Review your desired goals and revise them according to the results of your financial analysis and income statements; then prepare a plan and set a budget for achieving them.

Whatever your goals turn out to be for the first quarter of this new year — and for the year itself — make sure you put them in writing as part of your 2019 business plan. You can always adjust your annual goals as the year unfolds, but if you don’t have concrete, measurable goals in place from Q1 on, then your ecommerce business cannot grow and prosper.