5 Deadly eCommerce Mistakes You Want to Avoid When You Create An Online Store
Creating an online business has never been easier. However, making it successful and avoiding costly mistakes is not so easy. Read this article to find out more about the eCommerce mistakes that you definitely want to avoid.
The ‘eCommerce gurus’ on social media want you to believe that eCommerce businesses are getting rich quick schemes. The fact is, though, starting an eCommerce business is challenging, and making it successful is even harder. The failure rate for eCommerce businesses is thought to be around 80%, with one study suggesting it’s as high as 97%.
The benefits of overcoming eCommerce’s challenges can be phenomenal, and the overall eCommerce market is booming. So, there’s never been a better time to launch your eCommerce business.
This article will cover the top 5 mistakes that eCommerce businesses make so you can avoid them when you create an online store.
Let’s get into it…
1. Choosing the wrong platform
Choosing the wrong platform to launch an eCommerce business is a widespread mistake. It’s easy to rush this step because entrepreneurs are eager to bring their business to life with a website. However, it would be best to get it right because your eCommerce platform will be the foundation of your website’s design, performance, user experience, scalability, and overall success.
Firstly, you want to make sure that your chosen platform is appropriate for your skill level and budget. You will also need to make sure that the platform can provide the functionality that your website needs now and in the future, to allow your business to grow.
Here’s a list of the most important considerations to think about when choosing an eCommerce platform:
eCommerce platform considerations checklist
- Will the platform require coding knowledge?
- Is it SEO friendly?
- Are the web templates mobile responsive?
- What payment methods are accepted?
- Are there any transaction fees?
- What is the monthly subscription and hosting cost?
- Is there an app store to provide additional functionality?
- How fast is the loading speed?
- Does the platform support SSL certification to protect customer data?
- Is there 24/7 customer support to help you when things go wrong?
What are the best eCommerce platforms?
The best eCommerce platform is slightly different for everyone. However, below are the top three eCommerce platforms and who they are best for.
Wix – best for beginners
Wix should be the go-to brand for beginner web developers who want to make a stunning website. Wix has a fantastic drag and drops website builder that makes it easy to create the design you want. There are also a ton of eCommerce web templates that will help you to create a site quickly. Finally, Wix has a huge app marketplace with plenty of eCommerce related apps that you can use to boost your website’s functionality.
Shopify – best for intermediate web developers with plans to scale their business
Shopify is also suitable for beginners. However, the Shopify website builder is much more limited and requires some basic coding knowledge to make substantial web templates. However, what the platform lacks in terms of beginner design features, it makes up for with advanced eCommerce features. It’s a dedicated eCommerce platform with lots of advanced features already built into the platform, plus a large app store that will provide you with anything else you might need.
WooCommerce – best for advanced web developers
Woocommerce is a WordPress based platform. It gives users the most flexibility out of all the platforms in this list, and it also requires the most technical abilities to be able to use it effectively. If you want complete control over your eCommerce store and have the technical abilities to create an eCommerce store from scratch, then Woocommerce is the right choice. It’s completely customizable, and it has the added benefit of being the cheapest eCommerce solution on the list.
2. Designing for desktops
According to The Drum, 63% of traffic to online retail stores comes from mobiles, with 53% of all sales happening via mobile. So, mobile visitors are now the most important as they make up most visits and sales. Of course, you shouldn’t forget about desktop users but don’t make the mistake of never checking how your website looks for mobile users. It would be best to give equal time and effort to make your website’s design and user experience great for both desktop and mobile users. If you have to compromise on a design element, you should try to make it look better for mobile rather than desktop because it’s more than likely that your visitors will be using a mobile device.
The good news is that most website builder tools like WordPress, Shopify, and Wix have a mobile preview feature. This feature allows you to switch between desktop, tablet, and mobile screen sizes. You can check how any changes you make to your website’s design look on all types of screen sizes.
Mobile-friendly web design basics
How your website looks on mobile devices will be unique to your business and brand. However, there are some mobile web design fundamentals that you can use to make sure your website looks and works great for mobile users.
Simplify the navigation
Mobile users don’t have the luxury of having a mouse and a cursor to scroll and move around the screen. So, your navigation options need to be simplified for mobile users. Make sure that the menu can be reached at all times with just one click. You can also include a search bar to help mobile users pull up relevant pages. This will make it easy for mobile users to find what they need.
Reduce file size to improve page speed
Although mobiles improve performance with every new generation released, they are still not as powerful as a desktop. This means that sites with lots of rich content like images and videos will take longer to load on mobile than on desktop. Slow loading speeds are notorious for making visitors leave a website early. So, do everything you can to speed up your loading times. Common tactics include reducing the file sizes of any media uploaded to your website, using .jpg rather than .png where you can, limiting the number of apps installed, and removing any unnecessary code on your website.
Responsive web templates
Likely, you won’t have to think too much about making your website responsive to different screen sizes as it now comes as standard on nearly all website builder web templates. However, it’s worth double-checking that the web template and the platform you use to build your website use responsive web design to ensure that your site looks good on all types of screen sizes.
3. Poor product images
Let’s face it; online shoppers will definitely judge your store by the way it looks. Of course, text content is necessary as well to provide detail about your products. However, it’s multimedia content like product images and videos that will do the heaviest lifting when converting leads into sales.
An eCommerce store with poor imagery is like having a brick-and-mortar store with dusty unorganized, and rusty shelves. It won’t do your products justice, and it will significantly lower your chance of selling to your visitors.
Online shoppers have come to expect high-resolution, clean, professional images that build a sense of trust between the store and the shopper. You’ll have to meet this expectation if you want to keep people from clicking off your store.
It’s tempting to put money into ads straight away so you can start to generate traffic to your online store. However, it’s a big mistake if you don’t have the right imagery when your visitors turn up. Investing in some professional product imagery will help you to impress your customers and create high-converting product pages.
The dos and don’ts of product imagery
- Create high-resolution images
- Capture products from various angles
- Include close up shots so customers can look at the detail
- Create images with white backgrounds
- Choose the right lighting.
- Create scale by standing your products next to common items
- Include grainy, unprofessional images
- Use 3D visual representations (the real thing is much better!)
- Just have one image
4. No social proof
Social proof is a psychological human behavior where an individual looks at others’ actions to decide how to behave. The brain thinks, well, if all of these other people are doing it, it must be the right thing to do. Social proof is a powerful marketing tool when used correctly and something you should apply to your eCommerce business.
Types of social proof you can use for your eCommerce business
There are many different social proof types that you can use to tap into this powerful psychological effect. However, it’s important not to go overboard as too much social proof can seem desperate, untrustworthy, and simply a little annoying. It’s best to pick two or three types of social proof and do them, really.
Product reviews via comments or review sections are probably the most common form of social proof that is easy to set up and can have powerful results. They allow the potential customer to see that others have purchased the product and whether they liked it or not, you’re just starting, not easy be difficult to get that first review. However, don’t be afraid to ask your customers to submit a review. You can even incentivize them with a discount code for their next order.
Share press mentions
If your business or product is mentioned in the press, highlighted on a respectable platform, or used by a celebrity, don’t let it get swept under the rug. Shout about it!
Write a short social post with a link to the article or repost an influencer’s image using your products to show your audience what others think about your product. Alternatively, you could have a ‘featured in’ section on your home page like the example below.
Communicate company milestones
Communicating company milestones that show your brand’s success is a great way to show your company’s value and prestige tastefully.
Some examples could be reaching x number of sales, reaching x number of followers on social media, or any other milestone that shows your success.
Work with influencers or brand ambassadors.
Influencer marketing has become an integral part of successful marketing campaigns, and for a good reason. It’s a prime example of social proof. People look up to and respect social media influencers that share their values or have achieved an ideal they want to achieve. When the influencer’s audience sees them with a product, they transfer some of the positive values they feel for the influencer onto the product.
The most important thing when working with influencers is that they share something in common with your brand and have a relevant audience.
Include customer testimonials
Customer testimonials are similar to product reviews. Instead of having them on product pages, you can place them on your home page or landing page to show potential customers what existing customers think about your products.
You will have to reach out to customers to get a testimonial, and again, you can use a discount code or a gift to incentivize them. Try and include a picture of the customer to really bring it to life.
5. Not focusing on SEO
Unfortunately, lots of new eCommerce businesses have a lack of focus on SEO when they start. Commonly, eCommerce businesses don’t focus on SEO until two or three years when they realize how important and beneficial it can be to an online business. It’s understandable because SEO won’t generate sales overnight, and most new eCommerce businesses are hellbent on sales in the first 6 to 12 months of trading. However, if you start an effective SEO strategy from day 1, you will be noticing the benefits of organic search traffic within 12please months. So, please don’t skip over it! Start early and reap the rewards as soon as possible.
A guide to SEO for eCommerce websites
Organic traffic is free, and therefore, your profit margin will be much better if organic search traffic converts into sales versus paid for traffic. So, you want to do everything possible to improve your site’s SEO performance.
All SEO campaigns should start with effective keyword research. It will enable you to optimize your site for search queries that will bring in relevant search traffic ready to engage with your business.
Use tools like Google keyword planner, Ahrefs, Moz, or ubersuggest to find a list of relevant keywords to use throughout your website content. You want to have a mixture of high-volume keywords and long-tail keywords. Ranking for long-tail keywords will be the most useful as they are less competitive and provide more relevant traffic.
On-page SEO will help you boost your rankings by increasing your website’s relevance for specific keywords and improving the user experience. Here are five elements of on-page SEO that eCommerce websites should focus on:
- Include keywords in headings, titles, and meta descriptions
- Create friendly URLs by keeping them short and include your focus keyword
- Create unique product and category descriptions
- Add schema markup data to improve how your products are displayed in SERPs.
- Include rich content like quality images and videos to improve the experience of your visitors
Improving some of the technical aspects of your website will help search engines crawl and index your site and improve your visitors’ experience while they browse your online store. Both aspects are important for improving your rankings. Here are three technical SEO optimization tactics to help you boost your SEO.
- Page speed is a direct ranking factor. So, the faster your online store loads, the higher up in the rankings you will go.
- HTTPS creates a secure connection between your website and the server it’s stored on. Without it, your customer’s data could be hacked. An SSL certificate is essential for all eCommerce stores to protect customer data, and search engines reward it with a slight boost to rankings. So, it’s a win-win!
- Site architecture is important to help search engines crawl your site efficiently and make it easy for your web visitors to find what they are looking for. A general rule to help you make an effective site architecture is that no page should be more than three clicks away from the home page.
The last piece of the eCommerce SEO puzzle is link building. Search engines will primarily judge your site on its relevance and authority around certain topics. Keywords and on-page optimization signify your website’s relevance, whereas backlinks signify your authority on a topic. The idea is that if a web page has lots of inbound links from external sources, then it’s likely that it has authority on the subject because other people have made an effort to link to it and show it to their audience.
How to build links to an eCommerce site
There are lots of potential avenues for generating backlinks to your eCommerce site, but there are some easier wins that you can focus on first to get the ball rolling.
Creating a post for a popular blog within your industry or niche is a great way to score a backlink from a reputable website. Make a shortlist of target sites with high domain authorities and try to find their blogging guidelines. Use the guidelines to help you craft a blog post that will match their style and appeal to their audience. Include as many links back to your site as possible but make sure you stick to the rules within the guidelines.
Everybody loves a discount, and that’s why there are thousands of sites dedicated to finding the best deals for consumers. You can approach these sites with a discount code for your online store, and you’ll gain a backlink from them. Try to avoid spammy discount sites, as this can harm your SEO. While this tactic is one of the easier methods to gain backlinks, it should be used sparingly.
Find some popular blogs within your niche and reach out to them with an offer of a free product if they review it and link to your site. Some sites will charge a large amount of money to provide a backlink. So, this is a relatively cheap method of securing a backlink.
Likely, you’ll already have a good rapport with your suppliers. Reaching out to them to ask for a backlink is usually an easy way of collecting several backlinks to your own store. It works well when they have a section on their website that says, ‘these products are sold at businessname.com.’
Using a backlink analysis tool to crawl your competitor’s websites to find out where their backlinks have come from is another effective tactic. It’s likely that if a website has linked to your competitors that sell similar products, they will want to link to your site. Make a list of all high authority domains that are linking to your competitors and begin reaching out.
Hopefully, this article has helped you highlight some of the common mistakes made by eCommerce websites so that you can avoid them and accelerate the growth of your business.
Avoiding the mistakes starts with picking the right platform and making sure that your website is designed with desktop and mobile users in mind. Then, you want to do your products justice by creating top-notch, professional product images that convince your visitors to buy rather than scare them away. Once those basics are complete, you can optimize your site further by including social proof to increase your conversion rates and improve your SEO to build organic traffic to your site.
Let us know about your own experience with the mistakes listed in this article in the comments below.
Jake Hughes is head of content marketing at Website Builder Ninja and co-founder of Liberty Office. Jake has a passion for writing about his own experiences and knowledge within online marketing, eCommerce, and web design. Website Builder Ninja reviews the world’s leading DIY website builders to help you find the right platform to grow your online business