With the advent of internet technology e-commerce has dominated the world of business for over a decade now.
It should come as no surprise that many companies have jumped on the e-commerce bandwagon and started selling their products online.
It is important to emphasize that e-commerce is not just an online version of a brick and mortar shop. It is a new means of running a business in its own right.
This is why companies should take proper care when designing and developing e-commerce websites.
The aim of this article is to caution against the most common mistakes when building your online business.
So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Choosing the Wrong Platform
This step is the first and most important step to do right, and if you do a mistake here, then all your efforts down the road will be in vain.
This is especially true for startups that sometimes get confused when choosing a platform for their e-commerce website development.
The crucial thing to keep in mind is your business requirements and user experience.
There are numerous e-commerce platforms out there. Some of them offer free trials and we encourage you to give them a try before you commit to one.
The following are some of the best e-commerce platforms you should consider:
Your Website Doesn’t Seem Trustworthy
Brand (un)familiarity is one of the most common issues plaguing e-commerce conversion rates.
It can happen that yours is one of the most trustworthy companies out there. But if you fail to capitalize on it by not making it obvious enough for your customers they won’t notice and will move on.
A brand should reflect the company’s business plan, its mission and values. It has to be authentic. Therefore, when you brand a company (or anything else for that matter), you’re trying to capture its core identity.
“You have to look past the clutter and opinion and distill its true essence. This is what you convey to consumers — your brand.”, wrote marketing consultant Matt Hanses.
Starting with a comprehensive understanding of your audience’s worries, motivations, and insecurities regarding your product. This will go a long way towards improving your brand’s image.
By sharing relevant content, engaging with your customers you increase your chances of your audience engaging with your site.
Providing different approaches to brand validation such as customer reviews, public recognition, and relatable stories can all contribute greatly towards developing trust with your audience.
According to a survey, out of 600 online shoppers, 77.3% confirmed that reviews have a considerable impact on their decision to purchase a product.
The survey also testifies to the fact that the traffic coming from reviews tend to have a lower bounce rate.
Investing in organic and reliable reviews seems to be a surefire way for companies looking to strengthen their trustworthiness and brand with customers.
When selling physical goods one of the best ways to do it is for the customer to experience it by themselves, actually holding it in their hands, operating it and so on.
Many e-commerce brands in the attempt to make their products more visually engaging display unappealing, uncreative, oversized photos that do exactly the opposite.
Customers will be interested picturing themselves using the product. Provide relevant images that help them visualize themselves and the product is crucial.
You can do this by providing pictures of the product at various angles and positions.
Showcase ways in which the product is supposed to be used. Having the zoom-in feature will also prove to be useful since customers can learn more about the specifics of the product.
Providing a single photo of the product might actually hurt your chances of selling it since customers are nowadays accustomed to having multiple resources for making a decision about a product.
Poor Product Description
It is understandable that various products will have a different level of description detail, however, many e-commerce websites tend to underestimate the importance of having in-depth product description.
If you look at the personal websites, users generally like to engage with the website by looking at staff photos, the stories behind the person running the website and so on.
In the same vein e-commerce, customers prefer the detailed description of a product as well as looking for customer reviews and ratings.
As we mentioned before, photos of the product taken at various angles and showing the way you can interact with the product is crucial for customer engagement, however, having a detailed description is the most important by which a customer will be able to make a final educated decision.
When building an e-commerce business take special care to ensure that each item is described in as much detail as possible. Provide any other valuable information that you think will help your visitors convert to returning customers.
Focusing exclusively on visuals is not advisable and you will lose customers.
Surprising Customers With Shipping Fees
28% of shoppers will abandon their shopping carts if they are presented with unforeseen shipping costs at checkout, reports an e-commerce survey conducted by Visual Website Optimizer (VWO).
Other issues that affected cart abandonment were related to security concerns and complicated store navigation.
As you can see it pays off to be upfront and sincere about your company’s shipping costs.
Before the shoppers get too far down the sales funnel, make sure you take every opportunity to inform them about your shipping rates.
You can even include your shipping costs directly on the product page or your landing page, just make sure to clearly state your rates.
In the event that you calculate shipping for each individual order separately, be sure to state this fact early in the shopping cart. It is better to mention it as early as possible, at the first step of the process.
The best way to do this is to include a “calculate my shipping” feature directly in the cart interface so that customers can decide early on whether they want to proceed and purchase the product.
Insisting Customers Create an Account
The same survey from our previous example identified yet another common cause of cart abandonment: insisting that customers create a new user account.
A solid 23% of shoppers said that they would abandon the cart if the website forced them to create user accounts before completing the purchase, due to not being particularly inclined to add their addresses and contact details or other personal info.
The lesson here is to realize that shoppers do not want to spend more time on the website than it is necessary to complete the purchase.
Shoppers are interested in buying your product not joining a community. It seems that too many buyers are being forced to become a member when they are ready to make a purchase.
This creates unnecessary obstacles when all they want is to buy the product at checkout and leave.
The answer: guest checkouts. Make sure that you incorporate a guest checkout option in your website’s checkout.
You risk losing almost 25% of your customers due to something silly like insisting on having a user account.
It is ok to have an optional membership signup. However, you should never make it a compulsory segment of the checkout process.
Complicated Checkout Process
The checkout process is one of the most important conversion factors during the sales funnel of an e-commerce-based website.
Your whole business depends solely on online purchases. This is why it is important that the whole process proceeds in as few as possible, simple and user-friendly steps.
“Giving shoppers the opportunity to remove items from the cart is fine, but it should not be so prominent that it distracts customers. Some retailers like to suggest other items the user may like.
While this is done to drive sales, it can have the opposite result.”, reports Riskified, a fraud management prevention company.
We can all agree that it is important to take advantage of cross-selling and upselling opportunities whenever they arise. Just make sure not to overdo it.
In fact, you might even confuse or discourage some of your customers from continuing down the funnel.
In order to minimize the risk of making shoppers frustrated, consider including as few fields as possible.
This way you ensure that the customer completes the process more quickly and easily without having to waste time providing unnecessary information.
Underestimating the Influence of Online Reviews
The same WWO survey found that 55% of shoppers said that online reviews have a direct influence on their purchase decisions.
Seeing top reviews from previous satisfied customers makes other customers more likely to purchase the same or some other product from the website that received stellar reviews.
These reviews have a much greater impact because customers can see that these are not cherry-picked reviews selected by the company, but rather genuine reviews.
Just remember how influential are the reviews on Amazon regarding books.
Consider even offering a symbolic product free of charge to incentivize your customers to leave feedback.
Try asking your customers to leave said feedback and thoughts about the product or service directly on your website or on your social media.
Building a foundation for a successful e-commerce business is no easy task that you could do overnight. It will take a lot of time, communication and respect of your customers’ time to get there.
Not Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Devices
There are still a lot of brands out there that don’t realize how much having a mobile responsive website matters.
Users have become accustomed to browsing websites on the go. Customers use their mobile devices to access the internet more than via desktop computers.
Compare your desktop and mobile versions of the website to make sure that they are easy to navigate and user-friendly.
“In 2015, the shopping-cart abandonment rate reached an all-time high of 70%, and it’s climbing. Morgan Stanley’s research suggests that 91% percent of adults use smartphones. But why are only 14% of those consumers buying products online using their mobile device?”, concludes UXMatters, a Web magazine about user experience.
Not Thinking About SEO Strategy
One of the most common problems with e-commerce is failing to do or not doing any SEO at all.
People get discouraged because it takes a while for the SEO campaign to start showing any signs of success. This is often the reason why most online businesses tend to eschew it.
But the truth is that SEO is one of the most important tools that you could use for your business.
SEO is quite different from channels like Facebook or Google AdWords. PPC plans stop delivering traffic the moment you stop paying them.
Can you name on the spot top 10 keywords that you are trying to rank for in the long term? If your answer is no then you need to start thinking seriously about revamping your SEO and keyword strategy.
Not Measuring Performance
One of the biggest mistakes you can make while running your e-commerce business is not regularly monitoring performance.
This may prove detrimental to the way you do business. You need not go too far.
A simple check of your key figures like revenue, the number of products sold and total visitors on your e-commerce site can be enough to determine whether you are on the right path.
For best results, including Google Analytics into your website development should be a must.
Google Analytics will help you obtain crucial data about your website’s performance.
This way you can better understand what areas need improvement.
Building an online business is no easy task. No matter how hard you strive to make it work, your e-commerce will suffer if you don’t avoid the pitfalls.
Be sure to perform regular checks of your marketing channels and if they coincide with your goals.
This way you will always have an objective look at the state of your business and know if you are on the right track.