improve online shop avoid common ecommerce problems

It is estimated that by the end of the year 2017, eCommerce sales will reach a whopping $2.3 trillion! eCommerce is a highly competitive industry, where mistakes will lead to lost customers, lost revenue and some really happy competitors.

When setting up your online shop you may inadvertently make mistakes that will either drive away your customers or make them think twice about buying your products. While mistakes of this nature vary from one eCommerce site to another, there are some eCommerce problems that are commonly made by all online shops that freshly venture into the intricate world of doing business online.

In this article we’ll analyze some of the most common eCommerce mistakes, provide solutions on how to fix them and how to improve your online shop so that you can maximize the benefits of your online presence, and give your competitors a hard time catching up with you.

Bad user experience

User experience is a multi-faceted issue, and it can encompass many problems such as slow website issues, poor site navigation, bad search capabilities, bad product information, etc.

  • slow website: While a clean and clear design is indeed important, before your customers get to experience that, your online shop has to load fast enough for them to even stay on your page. If your site runs slow, your customers will lose their patience and abandon your site. If you’re on a shared hosting, switch to a dedicated one, look into integrating a content delivery network with your site and look into further specifics on how to speed up your WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. site.
  • cumbersome site navigation: Once you’ve solved website speed related issues, you can start focusing more on how to make your site more intuitive and easily navigable. For a smooth navigation, stick to a simple and clear design. Create well-defined and well-organized categories and allow your customers to filter results by brands, models, sizes, etc.
  • bad search capabilities: A bad search engine that doesn’t return correct results is a huge eCommerce faux pas. Test your search engine over and over again to make sure it works! Also, think about adding autocomplete or autosuggest features to your web-shop’s search engine to make the search process a bit smoother.
  • lack of product information: If your products don’t have detailed information about them, if you don’t have product reviews and enough pictures about your products, your customers will be left wondering. In the best case scenario, they will overburden your support team with product-related questions, but more often than not, they will just go elsewhere.

Long buying and checkout process

In the previous section we’ve discussed some of the elements that factor into making the product search process faster, now we’re going to focus on how to make the buying and check-out process shorter.

Give some thought to the design of your shopping cart – does it make it easy for customers to update it, edit quantities and preview charges? Can they easily switch back and forth between the cart and continuing their shopping?

You want the checkout process to be as short as possible, thus avoiding the risk of your customers changing their minds. Don’t ask them for irrelevant information and avoid multi-page check-out processes that confuse your clients and gives them a chance to reconsider their purchase. If possible, stick to a maximum of three pages – a shopping cart page where customers can enter their billing and shipping information, an order confirmation page, and a secure payment page. Anything more than this, and you run the risk of your prospective buyers abandoning your online shop in the middle of the check-out process.

Allow guest purchases, don’t force your buyers to register or to create an account, otherwise they may once again lose interest and click away from your site.

Few payment methods

ecommerce payment optionsLimited payment methods will make you lose credibility along with clients who can’t or won’t pay with the payment options you provide. Make sure you support all major payment methods, don’t stick only to AmEx, Visa or MasterCard, also include payment methods such as Maestro cards (popular especially on European markets), PayPal, Skrill, bank transfers, etc.

Another thing that you should consider regarding payment is securing the online purchase process. Having an SSL digital certificate and a secure encrypted connection will give your site more credibility.

Out of stock products

There are many ways to deal with out of stock products, but only a few of these are the correct way. What to avoid:

  • removing the product and creating a 404 page (this method is simply not helpful in any way);
  • redirecting from the product to the homepage (the customer has to repeat the search if looking for a similar product);
  • displaying the ‘out of stock message’ in a barely readable, small print message or by crossing out the size selection;

What to do instead:

  • display an out of stock message in a clear red sign to avoid any confusion;
  • display alternative suggestions based on the product name, brand, category, color, size, pricing, etc.

Bad customer support

ecommerce customer supportGood customer support is just as important as any of the above elements. First, make sure your clients can easily get in touch with your customer support team. This means that you should place contact information in an easily noticeable place on your web shop. Make sure to provide your clients more than one option to contact you (by phone, mail, chat, etc.), and give clear instructions on how to reach you depending on what problems they have (sales questions, product return, technical questions, etc.).

Supplement your support team if all the inquiries and complaints become too much to handle, especially during holiday shopping periods or during sales promotions. Just like your online shop, your customer support team has to run like a well-oiled machine.

Take a proactive approach and ask your clients for product reviews and feedback on how to improve your services. By taking up an active role, you show your clients that you care about improving your services.

Other improvements you can make

There are many other things you can do to improve your online shop. For example, having a mobile-friendly site is an absolute must as many people research products and even prefer to make purchases on their mobile devices.

Apart from ensuring more payment options, you can also provide more than one shipping mode. Include cheaper shipping options with reasonable delivery times and more expensive options with fast delivery times. Think about providing free shipping options for purchases above a certain amount.

Conclusion

As an online shop owner, you want to gain buyers and retain them, turning them into loyal customers. The only way to achieve this is to make sure your eCommerce site is well run and your visitors are happy with their experience. You may not be able to achieve this from the very beginning, but listening to your customers and using visitor behavior insight tools like Google Analytics can help you identify your weak spots and improve your services faster than you think.

Start Your Online Shop!

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InMotion’s platform supports various open source shopping carts such as PrestaShop, WooCommerce, Magento, OpenCart and others. Simply order a hosting plan, choose an eCommerce platform, design your shop, upload product images and start selling!

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