With ecommerce getting bigger every day, more and more items are being sold online. Everyone from solo entrepreneurs to huge companies -and everyone in between- is trying to get a piece of the action. This has resulted in lots of people making huge profits. It’s also, inevitably, creating a fair amount of failure and disappointment. Success is never assured with any type of business and ecommerce is no exception. There are, however, certain common mistakes that are responsible for a high percentage of the failures. These mistakes are worth studying if you sell anything online but especially physical items.
1. Inadequate Product Descriptions
Many online stores sell items with surprisingly limited descriptions. This is a problem for several reasons. First of all, you miss the chance to optimize the item for the search engines. The more relevant keywords you can fit into a description, the better the chance that it will be found by the search engines. It’s also important for customer conversions. In addition to listing the features and benefits of the item, try to anticipate any questions customers might have. If you’ve been selling the item for a while, you could post an actual FAQ based on typical questions. You might also look at competitors’ descriptions and note what details and questions are covered. It’s hard to include too much for your product descriptions. Including too little, though, will definitely harm your sales.
2. Insufficient or Poor Quality Images
The internet is getting more visually-oriented every day. Images are extremely important when you’re selling any type of physical item. This is true even if customers don’t, strictly speaking, need a picture to show them what something looks like. For example, if you’re selling high-end dog food, you might wonder why you need a great image. After all, the dogs aren’t going to be accessing your website and the owners are only interested in the ingredients, nutritional value and price. However, a captivating image goes a long way towards converting a browser into a buyer.
3. Poor UX
User experience or UX is a catch-all category that refers to anything that makes the shopping process slow, cumbersome, or confusing. To identify such issues, it’s important to frequently test your site and to listen carefully to feedback. Here are a few issues to pay special attention to.
- Slow-loading pages. Many customers won’t bother to wait more than a few seconds for product pages to load. Remember, shoppers often want to browse many items before making a selection.
- Confusing menu or lack of search options. If customers can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll go to one of your competitors.
- Slow or complicated checkout process. Amazon initiated one-click shopping and customers now expect a fast and hassle-free checkout process. Don’t make customers register for your site to check out.
- Lack of payment or shipping options. An online store should strive to serve as many customers as possible. The more you limit their options, the more excuse you’re giving them to leave your site and look elsewhere. People have a wide variety of needs and preferences when it comes to shipment options. Some people would prefer to pay more and receive their item faster. Others prefer to save money on shipping. People also have preferences such as the USPS, FedEx or UPS. The same is true for payment options. By accepting credit cards, PayPal, checks, money orders and perhaps even Bitcoin, you make it appealing to a wider range of customers.
4. Website Isn’t Mobile-Friendly
This is a mistake that’s getting more costly all the time. According to recent statistics, the majority of shoppers access the internet via smartphone or tablet. This means that if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re leaving out a large portion of potential customers. This is more of a risk for older sites as contemporary platforms are mobile-optimized. However, it’s a good idea to regularly test all features of your site on multiple devices to make sure everything is accessible to all users.
5. Inadequate Customer Support
Some people start an ecommerce business thinking that it doesn’t require much direct contact with customers. While it’s true that an online business is far more passive than a traditional one, you still need to provide high quality customer support. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling through Amazon or Ebay or if you have your own independent online store. If you’re not available to answer questions or address concerns, your reputation and, eventually sales will suffer. Remember that ecommerce success is largely driven by reputation in the form of positive reviews. Poor customer service is one of the major reasons that some sellers end up falling short in this area.
There are many factors that contribute to the success or failure of any business. The above are just some of the more common reasons that ecommerce sites don’t do as well as their owners would like. There are also some other, even more fundamental reasons that we didn’t cover. These include selling products without sufficient demand, prices that aren’t competitive or having a website that doesn’t have a professional look.
One of the great things about ecommerce is that it’s relatively easy to fix errors. If you open a brick and mortar store in an unpopular location, you’ll probably go out of business. With an online store, though, it’s simple to sell different products, improve your images and descriptions and make other improvements. The important thing is to look at your site objectively and have a willingness to make changes when necessary.