10 Common E-Commerce Pitfalls


Let our experience help you avoid the mis-steps.

You sell a product. People want that product. It’s a matter of connecting the two parties. Easy enough, right? Unfortunately, this is the first pitfall most e-commerce businesses discover.

Indeed, it is a big day when a brand’s e-commerce website goes live, but this is often followed by intense disappointment when expectations are not met. Many e-commerce business owners become frustrated when they can’t understand what went wrong.

Small mistakes that go unnoticed or may seem insignificant at the time can cost enormous amounts of your time and budget. While every business experiences growing pains, in the digital world, the threshold for mistakes is very low.

While there may be dozens of obstacles standing between your business and its success, these ten pitfalls of e-commerce marketing can destroy your dreams of a seamless digital business.

1. Lack of Focus

It is not lost on anyone that mega-online stores like Amazon, Ebay, Zappos, Rakuten, Overstock are always going to have the competitive edge over you due to their buying power and customer base. But what they don’t have is intimate knowledge of specific industries, target markets, hobbyists, sub-genres, cultures and handmade goods. By curating your products and keeping your target market more focused you have a significant upper hand over the elephants in the room.

Your e-commerce website needs to show your shoppers that you not only have the best products available, but that you know why they are the best. Highlight specific features that are special to that product, and don’t be afraid to show what is not so good. Developing a trust with your consumer will keep them loyal to your store.

2. Credibility By Design

A major part of having an e-commerce website is providing customers with a sense of trust. A strong design not only helps to get people to use your site, but it provides the credibility that all online shoppers require. If your users ever have to stop and question if you are selling these goods out of your garage, chances are you will lose the sale.

Your design should be clean and enticing, as well as appropriate for the products it offers. Should your website not be performing up to expectations, you may want to take a look at the design of your competition’s website(s). Do your homework, and keep it cool and simple.

3. Page Load Time

User experience is everything. We’ve all been there when trying to buy something online and the page or order form doesn’t cooperate. What do we do? We give up and go to the next seller. Load times are very important. It is estimated that each second a page is delayed in loading leads to over 10 percent fewer page views. The loading time of an e-commerce website or its subsequent pages need to be regularly checked.

4. Product Insights

Product pages are the lifeblood of your online store. Therefor, clear, concise product descriptions are the core. Highlight the specific features of that product that may entice a user. Try to find the angle that is going to get them to not just want that product, but need that product.

  • Upsell – You can also use this as an opportunity to upsell any other products that may go hand-in-hand with each other, or offer similar products that may be more or less expensive.
  • Product Reviews – They can also provide insights and give that extra push to turn your shopper into a buyer.

5. Clumsy Checkout

When a shopper peruses an e-commerce website, they may have already spent a significant amount of time choosing products. When it comes time for the checkout process, they’re excited and want it to go quickly.

  • Payment Options – Make sure to offer safer checkout methods like Paypal, Apple Pay, or Google Wallet.
  • Short Order Form – Keep your order form as brief as possible, eliminating any fields that are not necessary.
  • Save Customer Accounts – By providing this option you can save their address information, order details, allow reordering.
  • Credit Card Information – Never store their credit card information, it leaves you open to security breaches and potential for very unhappy customers.

6. Shipping & Returns

It’s important for an online business to clearly state their shipping and return policies. After all, converting sales and fulfilling orders are the ultimate goals. Your customers will want to know prior to placing their first order what will happen if they are not satisfied with a product or need a different size. Who pays for return shipping? What will the process be. By clearly stating these policies, your users will have confidence in their purchase. Avoid any delivery problems by only promising what you can realistically deliver, especially when demand is high.

7. Keep Your Inventory Up to Date

One of the single worst things you can do after converting a sale is having to call that customer and let them know that it is no longer available. While you may be able to find a suitable alternative product, it will always leave a negative impression. Customers want what they want and expect that the goods they order are available, and will ship out in a timely fashion. Develop a method that ensures your inventory levels are kept up to date by having an ‘online only’ inventory, or having a ‘Point of Sale’ system that syncs with your online store’s supply.

E-Commerce has massively matured in the last decade and its still growing fast. We are living in exciting times, where e-commerce sites are becoming smarter and more advanced day by day.

8. Mobile Incompatibility

Time to face reality: U.S mobile e-commerce is a $40,000,000,000 (that’s billion) dollar market—it’s a mobile-first world. According to several major studies on mobile commerce, the digital shopping experience is more likely to start on a smartphone than a desktop computer, or even a tablet. By not serving your audience a mobile-optimized shopping experience, you’re essentially ignoring the public demand. That’s like a grocery store stocking products on shelves that are out of reach for 80% of their patrons.

9. Maximize Social Media

Social media is free marketing. This is the first place start when searching for your customer base online. It is essential that you use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others. Certain industries work better on certain platforms so spend some time on each and learn how others are using it to see how you can leverage its potential.

Use social media to make your brand accessible, and pull your customer into your company’s story with sneak peeks of new offerings and behind-the-scenes photos.

Just as well, social channels can provide an opportunity for an online business owner to hear their customers’ concerns. These concerns will need to be addressed immediately. Quick responses to issues can increase a customer base and build brand loyalty.

10. A Helping Hand

Opening an online store can be both gratifying and also extremely frustrating. Between the technological hurdles, design challenges, inventory issues and customer service it is easy to lose steam or make a mis-step. You have to consider things like website hosting providers, e-commerce platforms (engines), security certificates, credit card processors, live shipping rates, and that is only scratching the surface.

You can avoid a lot of this frustration by working with a professional design and development firm (like us) who has helped countless other companies, and learned from their specific challenges. Working with an experienced e-commerce firm, you can spend your valuable time focusing on creating a better business, attending to customers needs and developing new relationships to further your business rather than getting mired in the minutia of the mundane e-commerce world.

Is That All?

Realistically, no. There are dozens of pitfalls you may encounter in your e-commerce marketing. The best-case scenario is that you’ll learn from early mistakes, which will prevent future blunders. It’s important, especially in the early stages, to use your time and resources wisely.

Ultimately, the functionality, accessibility, and reliability of your e-commerce platform should come first. Learn from competitors in your respective industry and emulate their success while systematically making it your own, and avoid falling into that e-commerce pit of despair.

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