11 Most Common eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid
Starting an online business can be alluring. Working from home and being your own boss sounds perfect when put on the paper. With no physical place, low maintenance costs and a wider market available, eCommerce has become an extremely popular business option. Once you get started, it can provide viable income for many years.
But this business is not without flaws, and can be very risky and challenging. If not done correctly, it can end even before it officially began.
Of course, there are also many things that can be done, and that can go wrong here. We will give you a hand and mention some of the biggest mistakes that people usually make when starting their own online store.
1. Customer Base
This first point should be done before you start making your web store. Research needs to be done about the product you are about to start selling and its targeted demographic. If you focus on a certain group, you will have a bigger success rate, since it will be easier to find and attract potential customers.
Most people do not want to go with the specific demographic, but instead turn towards everyone, thinking the more the merrier. This is not exactly right, since you will be potentially wasting marketing resources on a demographic that is most certainly not interested in your goods. So in the beginning stay with the target and see where it leaves you, because you can always expand to a different area if the work starts well.
Of course, some products are universal and are bought by anyone, so if you are selling something like that, it might be a bit easier to get it rolling.
This part goes hand in hand with the previous one. Once you find your targeted demographic, you need a way to let them know that you are in business. The more people that know about it, the more potential work you will have.
It is important in this day and age to be present on social network sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Promoting your store on these web pages is of great importance. Your store should probably have its own social media pages to keep your customers informed about any changes made.
Some web host providers offer great marketing tools to help you spread the word on the Internet. These tools usually include Google or Yahoo ad credits, which you can use to promote your store on different sites that are mostly visited by your specified demographic. Sometimes these packages are sold separately, but are worth the money as they have a higher chance to improve your traffic.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
It is important for your site to be found easily when people need to buy product that you are offering. Most notable among these is certainly Google’s search engine. It scans the Internet and places relative websites as a search result on its pages.
In order to be higher on the search result pages, it is necessary for your site to have a good SEO plan. This means that your website has to fulfill standards set by Google if you want to be found more easily.
There are many rules that have to be followed in order to make the most out of this platform. Even some small mistakes can cost you greatly and put your website further down on the list of searches. There are whole articles on this matter on the Internet, because of the complexity of this engine.
This system is measured by your website design, tags and keywords used, and accessibility to the site, etc. The more your website is following these rules, the higher it will get on the search result. There are plugins that can help with cleaning up some mistakes made, but it is still better to check them yourself, just to be sure.
4. Poor Site Navigation
Now that a customer has found your website, the next big mistake can be made by having poor site navigation. It should be elegant and easy to use, with as few clutters as possible. Buttons, links and other things you can find on a web page should be visible and clear. No need to make a complex and messy systems that will confuse your customers.
For example, your product images on the front page should also serve as links to the specified product they are showing. If one of your pages has a lot of articles on display, maybe put a “to the top” button, or with site that has more than one page, use a “home” button that will be clearly visible from any page.
There is a lot to consider about this point, so if it is not your strong point, be sure to hire a professional designer for the work.
5. Inadequate Search
Now, this is similar to SEO, but it focuses on your website only. A lot of shops do not have a functional search option. These search engines assist people in finding the right products they are looking for. It is there to help people who already know what they want, and should find it in a single step.
Most host providers offer this option as a plugin. You just import it to your website and you are all set to go. But still, it is better to check if the keywords and tags are optimized and work on the website as they should.
6. Desktop-Only Design
Since we are living in an era where the mobile industry has gained a lot of popularity, there are more and more people every day that use their mobile phone as a primary mean to browse the Internet. They are now like little pocket computers and should be treated as such.
Your website should be mobile ready, so that when you lower the resolution, the site will remain fully functional, and you won’t lose a huge chunk of people that use mobile phones for these things.
This optimization is now included with almost every hosting provider, so not having it is rare. But still it should be checked, because if it is not preset, it can cause harm to your business.
7. Bad Product Images and Descriptions
This is strongly related with the site design, but still deserves its own point. It can be the end of any online business.
Firstly, using stock photos of the product you are selling should be avoided. Generic picture cannot guarantee that the product you are selling is really there. Also, convenient is having multiple pictures for the same product, since customers cannot try your goods, so the pictures are a very useful tool that can sell the product.
Same thing goes for product descriptions. Try not to post copy / paste texts that are not at all interesting to read. Try being creative and describe the item with your own words, and be honest about it. It will add personality to the shop and also increase your chances of selling that particular item.
If pictures and descriptions are done correctly (meaning that they contain relevant keywords and tags, necessary for the SEO), they will have a great impact on the rating of your website, and will help it to stand out in the crowd.
8. Complex Check-in and Check-out Processes
Okay, now since the parts about finding your website and browsing it with ease are done, we have come to the part where it all pays off. If the shopping cart module is not done correctly, everything you’ve done so far will be for nothing.
Try to contain the check-in and check-out processes to one page and in a couple of clicks. Complicated carts can scare off most of the customers, because nobody likes it when things are hard and not truly transparent. Simplicity is the key here.
Try to have as many payment methods available as possible, since there are so many of them today that one or two will probably not cut it.
It also doesn’t hurt to make guest shopping, so that people don’t have to make accounts just so that they can buy one thing. You can always encourage account shopping, with well-placed promotions from time to time. It is always great when you get rewarded for the things you do.
9. Shipping Options
This is fairly simple, but most people do not want to mess around with multiple shipping companies, so they stick with one. This can be a big mistake, since variety in shipping companies will go a long way towards your company’s success.
Since on the web, you are not restricted to a single area or a city, and that is why more than one shipping company is necessary. Customers from different places should have a choice, since nobody wants to pay the same amount for the shipping as they did for the product they just bought. Different companies offer different prices and delivery times depending on the location of order, so bear that in mind.
Also, in the event when one shipping company stops working for some reason, you will always have a backup and your business will not suffer as much as if it was your only option.
All in all, people love to have options and the freedom of choice is never a bad thing.
10. Lack of Customer Service
For some people, dealing with another human being is a lot easier than dealing with a computer, but with online shops there is only one way to do it. Sometimes people will need another human being to respond to their questions and possible complaints. For this reason, customer support is always needed in a web store.
Like the other points on this list, this one should also be fairly easy to find and use. It is a simple, yet effective tool for your business. Start with something small, where people can send questions and complaints and hopefully get their response in a short period. There are multiple ways to do this, like email, chat rooms, tickets submitted on your web page, or on one of the social media websites. If your business is going really well, you can even go for the telephone support in certain areas.
You should always be prepared to deal with product returns and refunds as things can go wrong anytime and losing one sale is much better than losing one or more customers.
11. Doing it by Yourself
Even if the online business seems easier, it is always good not to do it alone. It can be stressful, since there is nobody to share the burdens with, or to lend you a hand with day to day operations. Managing everything by yourself can also be time consuming and exhausting, since all the problems that might (and probably will) occur will have to be done by you personally.
As your business starts to grow, you will have more work and will need to have someone to keep the things running as they should. Some solutions to the problems and jobs can come in the form of outsourcing (hiring outside parties to provide temporary help), mostly with data entry or website design.
Beside human help, some mundane functions can and should be automated to help your store run smoothly 24/7. You can find many add-ons to improve these aspects of your online store.
Now that you are aware of the mistakes we covered in this article, there will be much less to worry about when starting your new web store business.
All in all, like with every business, in order for it to succeed, it should start with an idea and a well thought long term plan that will keep the store up and running for many years.
You need to dedicate a lot of time and effort, but in the end it will be worth it, since you will have your own lot on a World Wide Web, where everyone can find and use it. If done with care and good planning, this can be an excellent business opportunity for anyone bold enough to deal with it.