8 Critical eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Online

January 8, 2019

By: Magento
eCommerce Mistakes

Running a business is like climbing a mountain.

Sometimes you’re on the up-and-up, and other times you hit obstacles that hinder your progress. Like a rock climber, you need the right tools, expertise, and determination to reach the top.

That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself for success by avoiding common mistakes that other entrepreneurs make on their eCommerce journey.

From choosing the wrong eCommerce platform to not considering user experience, in this blog you’ll learn what mistakes to avoid — and how to set yourself up for eCommerce success. 

If you’ve got big dreams to grow your eCommerce business, check out these 8 critical eCommerce mistakes to avoid when selling online.

Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong eCommerce Platform

Whether you’re just starting your eCommerce business or you’ve been running an online store for some time, your eCommerce platform can truly make (or break) your business.

Not only does your eCommerce platform determine how you showcase your products and sell to customers, but it also plays a role in how you attract users, and how you scale your business over time.

Once you have a business plan in place, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors while choosing an eCommerce platform, such as:

  • What products you plan to offer
  • How you plan to scale your business
  • How much control you want to have over your website
  • What tools your platform needs to integrate with
  • Your budget
  • Whether you want a templated design or a custom design
  • What kind of experience your customers are looking for

Avoid Costly Mistakes

The last thing you want is to choose a platform that limits your business growth, one that doesn’t integrate with your existing systems, or offer the level of control and customization that you want.

Choosing the wrong eCommerce platform can lead to a range of issues like revenue loss, lower conversions, traffic reduction, security issues, poor design, and much more.

This critical mistake could mean having to invest even more time, money, and energy into updating your platform or migrating to a different one altogether.

Make sure you take your time while choosing the right eCommerce platform for your online business.

Mistake #2: Not Defining and Understanding Your Target Audience

You have products, you have a business plan, and you have a website - what more could you need?

Unfortunately, simply having an offer and a place to pitch it aren’t enough to truly be successful with eCommerce (or any type of business, really).

One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is not clearly defining their target audience, and taking the time to understand what makes them tick.

You’ll need to take a deep dive into the market research to ensure that:

  1. your audience actually has a need for your product
  2. you know how to communicate your offer in language they will understand
  3. you can develop a marketing strategy that puts your target audience front and center

Defining and understanding your target audience will help you create an experience that resonates with them and a brand message that entices them to buy time and time again.

Take the Time to Understand Your Ideal Customer

In every area of your B2C or B2B business, you want to keep your ideal customer in mind. To create a profile of who this “customer” is, you will need to conduct market research.

This research typically involves:

  • Learning your customers’ pain points
  • Hearing what solutions they’ve tried in the past (and why they haven’t worked)
  • Knowing what values are important to them
  • Figuring out where and how they engage with content online
  • Testing what kind of language resonates with them
  • Addressing what problems your products solve for them

With this information, you’ll be better positioned to get your products in front of the right people AND communicate why your products stand out from those of your competitors.

Mistake #3: Not Utilizing a Scalable Website Design

Selecting the right eCommerce platform lays the foundation for your business success. That includes utilizing a website design that is set up for future growth.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking small. If you have a vision of expanding into new markets, integrating complex features, and offering a wider range of products, then your website should be set up to accommodate this.

Make sure to discuss your options with your eCommerce platform representative and/or your web developer to ensure that your website design can evolve as your business grows. If you don’t, you may face some expensive (and time-consuming) obstacles in the future.

Mistake #4: Complex Navigation and Poor UX

Your eCommerce website should be a collaboration between functionality and design. Not only do you want your website to look good, but you want it to convert users into paying customers.

If your site navigation uses confusing terms, if your content is hard to find, or if certain features aren’t working properly, users will get frustrated and go somewhere else.

To avoid this, work with a UX expert to optimize your website for smooth navigation and an enjoyable user experience for your customers. This will help users find the information they are looking for faster — which means more sales for you.

Mistake #5: Website Content Isn’t CRO or SEO-Friendly

If your eCommerce business relies on organic traffic in order to attract customers, then your website content should be written with both the user and SEO in mind.

Many businesses make the mistake of treating their content as an afterthought — not recognizing that each piece of content is an opportunity to attract more traffic and convert customers.

From your Homepage to your product descriptions, you need to offer content that is on point for your target audience, is optimized for search engine traffic, and entices users to buy your products.

Whether you work with an SEO agency or are taking the DIY route, it’s worth investing in content that’s SEO and CRO-friendly. That means utilizing the right high-quality keywords for your niche, and writing copy that’s made to sell.

Mistake #6: Complicated Checkout Process

Once users have made it through the initial steps of your sales funnel, it’s time to close the deal. Unfortunately, this is a time where a lot of eCommerce businesses see abandoned carts.

This can happen for a variety of reasons — mainly the checkout process is just plain confusing.

If your customers are left to fumble through the checkout process they are likely to get frustrated and give up before ever making a purchase.

Keep it Simple

To increase conversions, make the checkout process as simple as possible.

Don’t require that customers set up an account before buying a product. Get their money first, then add them to your email list. Eliminate any obstacles in their way.

Website copy should be clear, detailed, and concise. This is not a place for quirky language like “Ready to get poppin” or “Pay up, buddy!” Outline the exact steps they need to take in order to make a purchase. Buttons should be big and eye-catching.

Finally, make sure you aren’t hitting them with any unexpected terms or fees. Everything should be defined from the beginning. Making a purchase involves a degree of trust and you don’t want to give customers any reason to think that you are being sneaky or spammy.

Mistake #7: No Strong Brand Message or Identity

A product does not a brand make.

While Nike may be known for its shoes, they’ve put in the work to create a strong brand identity, logo, and message. The Nike “swoosh” is recognized across the world and their tagline “Just Do It” is simple, iconic, and motivating.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your products are good enough to sell themselves. In order to create a thriving business, you will need to cultivate a strong brand identity that will relatable to your audience and will be conducive to viral brand awareness.

Be Authentic, Be Consistent

If you’ve done your market research, you should have a solid idea of what your audience is looking for, and what type of language speaks to them. Then it’s just a matter of being consistent and unwavering in your messaging.

If your brand represents high-quality, trustworthiness, fun, affordability, etc., then these values should be evident in all of your content, branding, and marketing.

Having a strong brand identity increases customer loyalty and increases your potential for widespread brand awareness.

Mistake #8: Poor Customer Service

Customer service includes a lot different things.

It includes how you respond to user messages through your website. It’s how you respond to questions and comments on social media. It’s how you address customers complaints over the phone and via email. It’s any interaction you have with a customer that requires your attention and support.

Poor customer support (including slow response time, showing impatience, not offering refunds, etc.) is the surest way to lose existing customers and hinder getting new ones.

Be There When They Need You

You should be accessible to your users and customers at every step of your sales process — from acquiring information, to checking out, to follow-up. This ensures that they don’t have any issues, or if they do, you are able to resolve them quickly and professionally.

If you take forever to respond, rely on automated responses, only send one-word answers, or have a “tough luck” attitude, you will create a long trail of unhappy customers.

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Not only is it easier to and more profitable to keep an existing customer, but the likelihood of them sending more business to you is increased when you offer amazing customer service.

Avoid These Common eCommerce Mistakes to Sell More and Grow Online

You want to climb above your competitors and reach the top of your industry. To do that you need to learn from others’ mistakes, while keeping your eye on the prize.

By being aware of the most common pitfalls that other entrepreneurs experience in eCommerce, you can avoid unexpected costs and time-sucks in your business.

Not only will you be sure that your eCommerce website it optimized for success, but you will create a following of happy, loyal customers that are excited to buy your products time and time again.

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