Do you have an online e-commerce store, but aren’t sure how to increase sales? Many small businesses rely on this time of year to to provide up to 40 percent of their income, according to the according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the nation’s largest retail trade association.

Unfortunately, if you build an e-commerce site, people don’t automatically flood your website and convert to sales. So, how do you get customers to buy? While large retailers use TV, magazine ads, and radio, those avenues can be expensive for small businesses.  Below are several tips on increasing Online retail sales, while not breaking your advertising budget.

1. Make sure your website design is simple and easy to read

Think of yourself on a crowded city sidewalk with large signs every way you turn. Now think of a country road with one sign on it. Which one would get your attention more effectively? Now translate that idea to your website. If you have a busy pattern with lots of neon type or type in many different colors, are people going to know where to click? Or what you sell? No, they will be overwhelmed and leave your site.

But if you have a clean site, such as, you know exactly where to click or where to search. There are so many different websites that sell the same product as yours, so do everything in your power to get them to stay. Keep it simple. For more design tips, read 7 tips on creating a stellar web layout.

2. Incorporate an E-mail Marketing plan

E-mail marketing is a very low cost way to reach your customers each month. But don’t expect one email around the holidays to turn into huge sales. Part of developing customer loyalty is staying in touch, so you are fresh in their minds. You don’t have to run a sale each month, but you can show your latest product or details about a special event or contest. For more on e-mails, read Can email newsletters increase your sales?

3. Purchase Online advertising

In order for your Online sales to go up, you obviously need online visitors. While every site should use SEO (search engine optimization) key words to rate high on Google’s search engines, another way to gain customers fast is to use Online Advertising. You set the price per day you want to hit. Can you only afford $1 per day or $30 per month? This type of advertising is perfect for you. Depending on what you are selling, two of the most successful I have found for my customers are Google Adwords and Facebook ads.

3. Offer free shipping:

In this article, they state that more and more customers are coming to expect free shipping. Plus, if you offer free shipping, the average customer buys more of your products. Are you not a fan of offering discounts? Try this strategy: when someone signs up for your email newsletter, offer them a Free shipping code. That way you aren’t giving away something for nothing in return. You’ll gain their contact information for emails down the road and possible future sales.

4. Social Media marketing

More than 50% of people with Facebook accounts check their account everyday. Take advantage of this by posting weekly messages that can range from look at this new product, a special event, a sale and/or most importantly engage your customers and ask for their feedback. For more information on a social media plan, read How to create an Online Marketing strategy.

5. Hold an event or contest

An event or contest doesn’t have to be just be part of your in-store retail strategy. You can have a one day only online event on Facebook, blog or create a custom landing page on your website with the info. By having a contest or event, you can also utilize another great low cost way to get more business – a press release with all of the details. If you get picked up by your local News channel or paper, this can be a great way to increase your traffic to your website.