Starting an e-commerce business is a task by itself. Turning it into a success story – that’s what matters at the end of the day. The e-commerce space is an extremely competitive. Business owners try their best to nail down every detail on their e-commerce store to ensure that their shoppers get the best shopping experience.
Mistakes can do a lot of harm to your business and reputation. With the market getting crowded with new players every day, the smallest e-commerce mistake can drive customers away to your competitors.
Common e-commerce mistakes also disguise themselves as learning opportunities. But it’s wiser to avoid these obvious mistakes in the first place.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common e-commerce mistakes and pitfalls that could deter you business from reaching its goal.
Mistake #1: Not Understanding your Product or Audience
Sure, there’s a product and you have a great pitch. But that’s not enough to realize success.
The core of your e-commerce business shouldn’t be a guessing game It should be well researchers and the applications of your product should resonate with your target audience.
Failing to understand who your audience is and how your product would benefit them can take a serious toll on your bottom line.
If you guess your customers will need the product you are offering, and turns out that they don’t, they won’t buy it. And if they are reluctant to buy your product, then the time, energy, and money you put into creating this product will be futile.
You need to understand what the market lacks, and what your target audience needs. You can supply to a demands by offering the products your customers really want and will benefit from. You set your business up for success when you have the following in check:
- When you understand the market you are about to enter
- When you target the right demographic of the audience
- When you address your customer’s pain point with the product you are offering
Not Doing Market Research
For any budding e-commerce entrepreneur out there, there are various avenues like Google search, Facebook, and Instagram that give you a ton of information. You can identify your competitors’ performance, their product information all the way to their customer service methods.
Look out for your competitor’s reviews and feedback and use them in your narrative to target potential audiences and meet their demands.
Failing to Define Your Target Audience
When you have the right product but offer it to the wrong audience, that’s a recipe for disaster. You end up targetting an audience who has no need for your product and wouldn’t even approach your website to make a purchase.
This may seem highly unlikely but studies do show that “customers believe businesses need to have a deeper understanding of their needs… [and]…brands send too much irrelevant content.” (Mitchinson, 2019)
Think about solving the problems and frustrations of the target audience. Only when you gather information, you can create a full buyer persona, which can even be used to reach more potential customers. Demographic information such as age, gender, etc., purchase patterns, interests, and preferred platforms- are critical to help you identify the behavioral profile of your target audience..
Pricing Products without Market Research
Once you are done collecting information on your target audience and their requirements, you will need to understand how much your product is worth to them.
One of the most common mistakes that e-commerce businesses can make is avoiding pricing research. Two major concerns arise here: what if your manufacturing costs are more than what the market is willing to pay? Or, what if your target audience is willing to pay a lot more than you realize?
Since you are selling
- What your target audience want, who are willing to pay extra for what you’re offering
- To a market where people are unsatisfied with the existing options available in and you are providing them with the solution they need
You have the flexibility to deviate from how much your competitors are currently charging.
A number of factors can justify why your target audience are willing to pay extra. It could simply be convenience, sustainable or healthier ingredients, ethical sources of manufacturing and production, and more. Understanding the pulse of your target audience can guide you in setting your price range accordingly.
Mistake #2: Improper Technical Choices
When you invest in an e-commerce store, the way you invest your resources could make all the difference.
On one side, you can start the store with low costs, which is great. On another side, you’d end up compromising on key experiences because of the tech that powers your store. You have to carefully curate the customer experience, focus on top-notch security measures, store and retain your customer information and more. All this boils down to one thing- choosing the right technical solutions is crucial for your e-commerce store.
And making these sound choices right at the beginning of you journey helps you save time, money, and energy when you may have to migrate to different platforms as your business expands.
Choosing the wrong e-commerce platform
There are various e-commerce platforms available that lets you bring your e-commerce online store to life. Each option brings its own benefits and specifications. Some offer basic features and no options to upgrade. While others may seem appealing but tags along a lot of hidden costs.
Basic platforms are also less likely to offer customization options and you may have to rely on third-party solutions for the features.
Your choice of an e-commerce platform that grows with your business (with features needed to expand) is the right one. For instance, your business model may now focus on D2C but down the line, there could be room to switch to a different category.
If you are just starting out, it’s important to do a lot of research on the best e-commerce platform that fits your business needs. Talk to various store owners who have used an e-commerce platform to launch their business. Browse online forums for discussions, feedback and reviews to make your decision.
Not Investing in Security
New e-commerce business owners tend to be mindful about their early-stage spending. Investing in security should be seen as a necessity and a place to cut-corners.
Implementing security measures is essential especially on a site where customers can enter their payment information and shop from you. Securing your payment and other parts of your e-commerce store can minimize the impact of fraudulent activities by hackers who target website to commit financial fraud, scam customers, and lower your website reputation through virus attacks.
There are various ways through which you can boost the security of your e-commerce site. Some of the basic security measures that you need to adopt for your e-commerce store include:
- SSL certificates that you should have to protect payment transactions
- Anti-virus software to keep that payment information safe
- HTTPS format to product your users and their data
Creating your own e-commerce CMS
Some business owners may not find customization that they are looking for in existing e-commerce platforms. That’s when they choose to create their own content management system (CMS). But you this means you may have to invest heavily in developing and upkeep your e-commerce store in order. Since the e-commerce store development is complete in-house, your site may be prone to technical challenges, lack of integration or support from another software. Creating your own CMS may result in adding new features based on your expanding business from time to time.
Opting for a custom CMS requires both solid investment and high-skilled personnel round the clock. For e-commerce business owners who are just starting out, choosing an e-commerce platform that offers upkeep and custom modules is beneficial. This ensures that you spend your time, money and energy focusing on building up your business rather than worrying about fixing your custom e-commerce CMS.
Mistake #3: Unclear Homepage and Product Pages
Your homepage is the first impression most customers have when they first hear about your brand. And we all know how important first impressions are, you fumble that up and that potential business you almost sealed turns into a missed opportunity.
Your homepage should reflect your e-commerce business’s identity, image, and purpose. It should speak for the brand itself and attract customers to the site over and over again.
Poor Design and Copy
While two different components of a homepage, design, and copy go hand-in-hand with one another. For instance, if you have a visually pleasing website paired with poor copy or vice-versa, your customer will not be motivated to explore your website further.
Ultimately, your design and copy should reflect your business and product. If your product is simple, then keep the design and copies simple. If your product is one-of-a-kind that’s new to the market, then use your copy to convince and convert your customers.
For example, If your offer a new smartphone, then your copy should reflect how it’s a differentiator in the market and why your customers should care. But if your product is clothing, then your copy should focus more on the aesthetics and comfort it brings to the wearer.
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Poor Mix of Text, Imagery, and Video
It is very simple, be sure to use the right balance of text, images, and videos on your homepage and your product. Balance here doesn’t necessarily mean equal proportion. It simply means that your text, images, and other multimedia elements should be cohesive without overpowering each other.
The purpose of your homepage is to entice your visitors with just the right amount of information that will get them hooked and prompt them to explore your website further.
Not Using Social Proof
Social proof is product reviews, testimonials, and referrals. They are the major drivers involved in converting prospective shoppers to consumers.
The social proof on your website is a trust marker that lets potential customers understand the products through the lens of someone like them. Real-life reviews and experiences increase credibility and enable your customer to make a sound decision. It is highly unlikely for consumers to purchase products from brands that do not have reviews or ratings.
Place these reviews, ratings, and testimonials on the product pages to drive more engagement and increase the chances of sales.
Collect more customer reviews by encouraging customers to post reviews on your website. You can also request customers for reviews through email or social media. Display some of the most favorable ones on your homepage to provide your prospective sufficient proof of what they can expect when they purchase your products.
Lackluster Product Descriptions
Your product images and videos are not going to do all the work. They have to be coupled with appealing and informative descriptions that persuade the customers to buy from you.
Your product description should answer these questions: what are the benefits of your product? What pain points does it solve? What sets it apart from the competitors? And why should the customer purchase it?
To write the perfect product description, you have to think like the a shopper who’s visiting your site for the first time. And the information you provide should be clear, enticing, and appealing to all.
Mistake #4: Complex Navigation and Poor UX
The user experience of a website is of utmost importance. In addition to your search engine rankings and your conversion rates, website design also impacts user experience. As a primer, we’ve listed out a few basic mistakes to watch out for in your website design
Your prospectives should be able to navigate to find the products easily. With designated product categories, you can guide customers and provide customers with an overview of the other items grouped under specific categories. This maximizes the chances of cross-selling or encouraging customers to add more products to their carts.
If you do not have set categories, your products will appear unorganized on your e-commerce website. Customer may have trouble spotting your products or will end up looking at products they have no intent to buy. This will increase drop-offs and the customers who were interested in buying from you at one point will never come back.
Little Service Info or Business Contact Info
It is not just the products that influence the decisions of the buyers. The customers would also require clarity on shipping rates, delivery time, and return policies. In most cases, customers may also require clarity on how they can get their concerns addressed. If you provide a bare- minimum or little information, your potential customer may not trust your business enough to make a purchase.
So provide as much clarity as you possibly can as these factors influence customers in their buying journey.
Your homepage should appeal to your visitors enough that they browse through the rest of your site. And good navigation helps them work their way across your site easily.
While the homepage may be a bit of an information dump, you need to ensure that customers can find categories each product is mapped onto and also information about these categories.
The point is that you should make your visitor browse and click around, but with purpose. Everything should be easy to navigate- categories, products, contact information, shipping details, return policies- you name any component of your site, and it should be easy to navigate.
No Guest Checkout
Many times customers who have added items to their cart have abandoned them because they weren’t allowed to proceed without making an account on the site. And this is why it is crucial to have a guest checkout option. This helps minimize the time a customer requires at checkout and without the additonal hassle of creating a dedicated account on your website.
The abandonment rate is not worth the collection of customer information you will get after the sign-ups. You can always collect their email address through guest checkout should you be interested in sending post-purchase communication and marketing campaigns. A healthier alternative to guest checkout is also the swift social login feature that enables one-click account creation via Gmail or a popular social media account.
Not Analysing the Data for Marketing
Effective marketing is a blend of creativity and the data collected. And your marketing strategy should be based on customer behavior.
For instance, when using email marketing tactics, personalized and highly targeted email has a higher chance of converting than non personalize emails.
Using analytics can help improve gather information pivotal to your marketing strategies, giving your e-commerce business a boost over your competitors. It will keep you on track with your customer’s behavior and patterns in real time. Integrating analytics to your e-commerce store will help you unearth insights like page visits, active sessions, content performance, cart abandonment, traffic sources and more.
Mistake #5: Website Content Isn’t CRO or SEO-friendly
If you intend your e-commerce business to rely on organic traffic to attract customers, then your website should be written with the user as well as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind.
You shouldn’t treat your content as an afterthought, there is a lot of potential in the content you put up on your site- it has the power to attract more customers and increase the conversion rates.
Every piece of content, from your homepage to your product description should be optimized to target your audience and rank on search engines.
Whether you DIY it or hire an SEO specialist, it is a fruitful investment. Your SEO and CRO-friendly content mean using the right keywords related to your niche to boost click rates easily.
Listed below are SEO mistakes one can commit on an e-commerce site.
- Lack of SEO-optimized content
The reason for optimizing your content is simple- if you don’t, you won’t find its place in the Search engine results page. Anything beyond page 2 of a search engine results cuts reduces your chances customers click on your site drastically.
Optimizing content during creation is achieved by making your content audience-centric (content focusing on what the audience wants to hear and not what you want to speak) and keeping it in line with industry standards.
- Content that is like your competitors
When you conducted your market research, you may have picked up the language and tone that your competitors have used on their e-commerce websites. While you realize that this is the kind of content that speaks to the customers, you can’t use it word by word.
Use your research findings as inspiration to build your e-commerce store’s content. Avoid copying content from other websites because search engines might flag your site or penalize you for plagiarism.
- Not Optimizing the Site for Mobile Devices
Everything has now shifted to the mobile front. The majority of buyers use mobile websites to purchase, as opposed to their desktop counterparts. This means that your website should adapt easily for mobile device usage without compromising on the user experience provided on the desktop version.
You can test your mobile site with tools like Google Mobile-friendly tests to find out if your site renders well on mobile devices. Having a mobile-optimized website is key so that you do not miss out on shoppers who use their mobile devices to make purchases.
- Ineffective CTA
CTA or Calls to Action are critical to the conversion process. The language of your CTA has to be direct and should influence someone’s willingness to click and purchase.
The tone used has to be action-oriented and should set a preface of what your shoppers should expect when they click or tap the button. Using the right text for your CTAs can play a role in boosting conversions and sales on your e-commerce site.
Thus, your CTA has to have a call to value- it is an invitation and not a command.
- Not Doing any AB Testing
A/B testing involves changing certain elements of a page and testing its performance by running it against the original version.
Think of it this way, you have a webpage called Version A. You make changes to Version A which results in a modified page- Version B. AB testing is where you split your traffic across both versions, and compare the reception both versions received to find out if the changes had any impact or not.
It is straightforward text to compare the performance of both the pages and the data collected will highlight which one yields a higher conversion rate. And these tests are crucial to underline opportunities that can exponentially improve conversion and website performance.
Mistake #6: Bad Shipping and Fulfillment Experience
Once your customer has gone through the product pages, added their desired products to the cart, and are about to purchase, they are at the final steps of your sales funnel. However, this could also be a point where customers are likely to change their minds and abandon their carts. And this can happen if your shipping policies are unclear or the customer isn’t satisfied by the shipping and payment options presented to them.
Lack of payment options
A lack of preferred payment options can increase cart abandonments. Since different customers prefer different methods of payment, your payment gateways should appeal to different demographics.
Your e-commerce website should facilitate transactions through digital wallets, cards, cardless methods, and more.
By focusing on limited options, your e-commerce website will appeal to only a certain section of customers while others will feel neglected.
Lack of shipping options
When stepping into customers’ shoes, you realize that they want their products at a fair price, shipped faster, and delivered in one piece.
Slower shipping time frames may cause your customers to look out for other stores that offer faster shipping. Try incorporating expedited shipping options for additional fees or free shipping for a specific shopping limit. This helps you keep customers happy and reduces customer drop-offs significantly. If you provide them with satisfactory shipping options, they are highly likely to return to your website and become return customers.
In conclusion, if you want to get ahead of the competition and come out at the top, you need to understand and learn from others’ mistakes.
This guide walks you through all the common mistakes one has to watch out for when starting an e-commerce business and launching an online e-commerce business website. Ensure that you take in the learnings and apply them to your business and online store to realize results faster and level up sales.