eCommerce as a concept and as a business has exploded like a firework in the lives of consumers and continues to grow exponentially every day.
Owning a successful eCommerce website is not easy, though, especially because of the huge competition involved. In fact, online stores sprout like mushrooms every single day on the internet and are more than a dime a dozen. But not everyone can make it online… Why is that? It’s because far too many people are making basic eCommerce mistakes with their online business.
The three biggest mistakes that people make are finding the right niche, validating products, and creating a good branding strategy guide for their business.
We’ve already covered those topics in the guides linked above, so this list will cover some of the smaller yet still crucial eCommerce mistakes. The frustrating part is; all of these mistakes are entirely avoidable if people take their time and research what they’re doing.
Common eCommerce Mistakes
First Impressions Count
The first mistake not to be committed is to underestimate the overall image of your eCommerce site. This means that all pages of your website should be carefully designed with attention to detail.
Simply try to put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer looking for a specific product. If you arrived at an online store with a confusing or ugly layout, cheap looking logo, poor copywriting, and bad product images, what would you think?
You may not even think anything, and just automatically close the tab and look elsewhere.
People are going to have a first impression when they land on your website and if it’s not a good one, they will likely leave and promptly forget about you. Pay attention to every single detail on your site, such as the spacing of your paragraphs, the words you use, the size of the images, style of font, color scheme, navigation, etc.
The amount of sales that can be lost because of a bad first impression could be staggering. You could even be in a situation where all your product pages look great and would convert well, but all your websites visitors land on your homepage which looks like an incoherent mess.
Not Having A Blog
Another mistake that is frequently committed is neglecting to have a blog on your website. You may think that because an eCommerce site just sells products or services that there’s no need for a blog.
Well, starting a blog could be one of the best decisions you make for your online store.
A blog enables you to have a voice.
Imagine if you are in a small but lucrative niche and none of your competitors have a blog or do content marketing. That just virtually leaves the whole pie on the table for you to take rather than carving out your own slice and having to share the rest.
With content, you can focus less on the product you sell and more on your target client. You can do this by creating content that your typical consumer would want to digest. This means you can target your ideal customer through another medium, and possibly one that your competitors aren’t utilizing.
Let’s say you sell upholstery.
You could create an article, video, or infographic offering some free upholstery care tips that the consumer can do themselves at home.
You don’t have to give away the farm, but just enough so the user can see the value of the content you put out. You can even include links to upholstery care products that you sell and show the user a video of it in action. This is a great way to drive sales and really makes your site stand out from the rest.
You can start with one post per week, in order to create interest and at the same time by testing the effectiveness of the content itself. Once you’ve figured out what kind of topics to deal with, what tone to use and the target audience, you can start planning your editorial calendar with two or three posts per week.
Not Having Enough Purchase Options
If you are planning to set up an eCommerce website, this is the first mistake you have to solve in order to get more sales. One of the reasons why sales do not materialize is because of the limited payment options with an online store.
To resolve this error, it is imperative that you include more payment facilities for your customers so that they can acquire your products or services without problems. At the very least, you should accept PayPal and credit/debit cards. These two will be the most common forms of payments.
You can accept both methods with a PayPal Business Account or you would need to set up two different payment gateways with PayPal and a card processor such as Stripe or Authorize.net for example. Once again, this is very easy to do with Shopify or WordPress.
The construction of a good image is the first step to be taken when building an online store, but to this, you need to combine another feature: ease of use.
The user must be able to find what they want in a fast and orderly manner. The search bar, for example, must always be in the foreground, so that the user sees it immediately, avoiding the stress of having to look for that, in addition to the product.
The main navigational menu should be clear and the user should be able to get to every section of the website with just a few clicks.
If the user is still in the phase of general browsing, they must be able to get an idea of who you are and what you sell from the first page they land on. The About Us page is also important in this case because it is an immediate resource for the visitor to learn about you.
All of this and more make up what is known as User Experience, and it’s a driving force behind many sales for online stores.
If the user can’t find what they’re after, or if the site is unfriendly, loads too slowly, has incoherent navigation, broken elements, and missing information, do you think they’re enjoying their time on this site?
Every second that passes during a poor user experience inches closer a lost sale.
Poor Delivery System
Customers who visit an online store expect to know when the goods or services they purchase will be delivered.
The easiest way to do this is to provide this information on the product pages. If for some reason your website is designed in a way where the customers won’t need to visit a product page, then the delivery times should be displayed on the shopping cart page and/or checkout page.
You can clearly state that these times are simply an estimate, but do try to make them a realistic and accurate estimate.
The majority of complaints and inquiries that you will receive will most likely be someone asking how long their order will take to deliver. Shipping for eCommerce is one of the most vital elements that you need to optimize and always stay on top of. It will take up a lot of time with customer support and is also more likely to lead to the most problems and complaints with customers.
You can also integrate your store with a logistics provider if you are using Shopify or WordPress so that the customer is automatically sent an email with a tracking link.
This can greatly help to alleviate the need for the customer to contact you in regards to their delivery, as they can just use the courier’s website and see the status themselves.
Automating your shipping process as much as possible will save you an incredible amount of time and resources, so don’t ever neglect this.
Not Collecting Reviews
It may seem strange to you, but the reviews that your customers leave under the purchased product are more effective than many sales strategies. The numbers speak clearly:
70% of people will leave a review when asked
77% of users read reviews before buying
84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends
90% of people say buying decisions are influenced based on reviews
You could probably relate to those statistics based on your personal experience when making important purchases, and would most definitely fall into at least one of those categories.
An online store with a wide choice of products but no reviews or inherent feedback may show a site that is not serious and not reliable. Zero reviews in the eyes of a possible customer could mean zero sales to them.
Now, not all eCommerce websites incorporate reviews into their site, which can be ok, but if you do, it’s not a good look having them completely empty. The importance of customer reviews cannot be understated and you must work hard to acquire them naturally.
Also, from an SEO perspective, the reviews left by customers on product pages help keep your site in a favorable position within Google as the reviews are considered to be a ranking factor.
Not Utilizing Social Media
Social Networks are one of the most important traffic acquisition channels that a site can have, be it a corporate site or an online store. Being on social media is therefore essential to attract new users to your eCommerce store, while not taking care of this aspect would mean throwing away, literally, a large chunk of potential customers.
But be careful not to make the mistake of creating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin, to name a few, but then abandon them to collect dust.
Even if you get a decent number of likes, an inactive Facebook page is not a good business card.
Social media can drive enormous amounts of traffic and there are billions of people around the world who use it. Even if you don’t use it, you will surely know someone who does and even realize how it has taken over and changed our global society.
It can also be another means to communicate with your customers and potential clientele. You may have seen many companies which provide customer service over their social media channels, in addition to running promotions and content marketing. Social media for business isn’t just for sharing your blog posts or product images, and there are many ways you can utilize social networks effectively.
As you probably know, search engine optimization is how you gain visibility on search engines. There is a fine art to it, as Googles algorithm is constantly changing and evolving. But, there are some factors which will always be around and be imperative to getting favorable search engine results:
Proper on-page SEO and backlinks from niche-related and authoritative sources.
Because SEO is a long-term game and takes a while to see results, you should be partaking in it from day one.
At the very least, you can perform On Page SEO yourself, which could start to bring you in some organic search engine traffic within a few months.
The user will almost never seek the solution of their need beyond the first page of Google results, which is obviously where you want to be. There’s no magic trick when it comes to ranking a website and you can’t expect it to happen overnight either. The fact is that SEO is essential and is certainly one of the most important tools to bring traffic to a website.
It may cost you an initial investment, but if your rankings are steady and you have chosen your keywords well you can reap the rewards for a long time afterward.
Is it Safe?
One of the biggest concerns of many online shoppers is the security when it comes to paying since there is still great uncertainty. In the same way that it is important to offer a consistent design throughout the process, it is advisable to highlight the security and privacy of your site.
Your website should utilize an SSL certificate, which encrypts the data that the user enters on your website. This is actually a legal requirement if your payment gateway is hosted on your website and doesn’t redirect to a third party.
You can also include the logos of companies or services that you use on your website to further instill trust with the user. These are known as ‘Trust Badges’ and you will be able to get them from the company you’re using or from Google images.
Not Highlighting Errors
How many times when completing an online form does something fail when you hit “Continue”? Sometimes, it tells you clearly where the error is, but on others, you have to discover a notification at the top to find out and then start looking for where you’ve gone wrong.
It is inevitable that as people we make mistakes, but this mistake that you make could cost you sales.
A user can make a mistake by entering the wrong zip code or misspelling an email address. It happens. What you need to do is clearly indicate where there is a problem so that the user can easily correct it.
And worse, the bane of filling out forms online;
When this error clears all the previously filled fields and you have to enter all the information again…!
There would be few ways to take away the desire to continue buying as much as this.
If there is only one wrong field, it is not necessary to delete the rest!
Why make the user start all over again when there were sections which had the right information?!
Highlighting the error in red to correct it is enough.
Again, Shopify and WordPress have forms that are smart enough to detect this behavior and save your visitors a lot of hassle and frustration. These two platforms are the most commonly used ones for creating eCommerce websites and their simplicity and ease of use is a major factor for this.
Avoid any type of element that can distract the user and make them do something else.
On your shopping cart page, the user is almost ready to buy something and is literally one step away from payment.
Do they really need to see a link to your most recent blog post and then go read it for 10 minutes?
Some websites even hide the navigation menu so you do not even think about visiting other sections from that page, which may or may not be an effective strategy for your niche.
You can never let the user have to guess what they should do once they’ve added a product to the cart. Calls to action must be visible, clear and descriptive. Some websites will redirect the user to the shopping cart page after they’ve added a product to the cart. This can increase conversions a lot, especially if your typical customer would only purchase one thing and not continue browsing.
The key is to be descriptive with calls to action such as “Process Order”, “Continue Shopping”, or “Proceed to Payment”, as this way you do not give rise to possible confusion and overwhelm the buyer. The meanings of these calls are very obvious and the user immediately knows what will happen if they click on that button.
You may be surprised at the percentage of users who, in the slightest doubt, close the window because of confusion like this. They don’t want to spend the time to figure out your website and what everything means, so do it for them and make everything clear and understandable.
Non-working links, missing images, and more general disappointment of expectations can give rise to a rather negative user experience.
eCommerce requires a lot of resources, especially many images, and links. With so many elements in use, it is not uncommon for something to go wrong such as an incorrect or broken link here or a missing image there. Online retailers must constantly test their site to make sure everything works perfectly. Missing images and broken links make it look like an unprofessional site and thus, an unprofessional business.
Something seemingly as minor as this can be a deciding factor for someone to decide not to make a purchase and this goes back to paying attention to every single detail of your website. Check it regularly to make sure everything is working as it should. While it would be nice for someone to email you and let you know that there’s a broken image somewhere, it’s even nicer if it never gets to that stage.
It can be surprising how much time and money people spend on getting traffic to their store with AdWords, social networks or SEO and yet put elements on their website to make the user leave it. Think of those big social icons in the header calling attention or a slider of a store encouraging you to become a fan on Facebook.
This can be distracting for the buyer and lead them off your website. Imagine the situation of a buyer who first lands on your website, likes what they see and decides to visit your Facebook page because you had a big CTA telling them to.
What happens now?
They leave your page, with good intentions of coming back, but, they see a couple of notifications, make a few comments, like a few awesome cat pictures and then forget all about you.
First, let the user buy. Then, once finished, encourage them to become a fan or follow you on different social networks.
You can create a “Thank You” page that all customers are redirected to after they successfully complete a purchase from you.
This allows them to buy from you with minimal distraction and you have the chance to convert them to a social fan after the transaction is complete.
Focusing on Too Much
Doing business is difficult and complicated. Imagine a brain surgeon working on multiple patients simultaneously. It would be a disaster.
The same is true for starting a business. Obviously, nobody’s life would be in danger, but your business would be.
Too often entrepreneurs get lost, following the current trends on sales, the shiny app or the new tactic to grow. It is an approach that rarely leads to positive results for the business. Focusing on too many channels will disperse your energy without being able to achieve the desired result. This is why it’s better to focus on one task, one channel, and one goal at a time.
Having a single focus and going all-in on it can yield much better results than having multiple focuses and only going half-way on each of them. Focus on one thing and do it right before moving onto something else.