Common E-Commerce Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

We’ve built a lot of sites over the years, but the web isn’t a ‘build it and they will come’ type of place anymore.  You have to spend a lot of time (and sometimes money) to make sure your site is better than your competition.  While I usually post tricks to enhance your site, this article is going to be more about things NOT to do.

Poor Quality Product Photography

Too often we build a client a beautiful site, only to see them upload product photos that look like they were taken with a 1980’s Polaroid camera.  Just because we all carry a camera in our pocket everywhere we go doesn’t mean we are all professional photographers. Product shots are some of the most difficult to shoot, and a good shot makes a HUGE difference in the way your customers see your products.  These days ‘lifestyle’ photos are very popular – showing someone using your product in the real-world.  Props are also very helpful, particularly when trying to convey scent or taste (the scented web isn’t quite here yet).  While it is possible to create beautiful photos yourself using some inexpensive tools, it is not something everyone will be able to do.  Spend the money on a pro if you don’t have the skills.  Here’s an article with a bit more detail about product photography.

Ignoring Social Media and Your Blog

It is pretty much impossible to ignore social media these days, particularly when it comes to E-Commerce. Customers want and expect to see your company on at least one of the channels they follow, and if you aren’t there it reflects badly on your brand. You should be active on Facebook and Twitter at an absolute minimum, with Pinterest and Instagram quickly becoming just as important.  If you don’t have the time to do this yourself, hire a social media manager.  Yes, it is that important.  Blogging is also crucial, as that is one of the best ways to get fresh copy on your site and keep your customers coming back.  New product announcements, tech articles or just interesting tidbits may be enough to entice the visitor to come back and purchase something else.  Want to know more about social media and e-commerce?  Here you go!

Sending Customers Off-site to Pay

We often get customers who want to only offer PayPal so that they can save themselves the $30/month gateway fee.  Unfortunately if you do this you will be alienating a good number of potential customers.  I’m a fan of PayPal, but many people are not and simply won’t bother completing the transaction if that is the only method you offer.  People expect to be able to enter a credit card on your site and be done, not jump through hoops.

Ignoring Search Engine Optimization

Google has gotten VERY picky about the sites it lists in the search results.  Gone are the days of ‘keyword stuffing’ or linking your site on link farms.  These days it is all about following their very specific rules and quite simply, writing good copy.  In order to succeed, you need to take the time to research the correct keywords, and include those keywords everywhere they are expected – URLs, META data, H1 tags, and of course your actual copy (descriptions, product titles, etc).  It is a laborious and mind-numbing exercise, but one that needs to be done as thoroughly as possible. Ideally you should hire a professional to at least help you with the keyword research, as optimizing for the wrong keyword is just as bad as having no keywords at all.  If this isn’t something you feel comfortable doing yourself, we can help!

Poor Design/Visual Hierarchy

I talk about this subject a lot, because it is SO important.  Many people who start an e-commerce site put up a generic template and don’t spend any time or money on design.  This would be like opening a retail store in a cardboard box, no one is going to want to shop there!  Your site needs to represent your brand well, and convey a message of professionalism and confidence.  A template that looks like every other generic site out there, or something that looks like it came from the 1990s isn’t going to win you many fans or repeat customers.

Hiring a professional designer will benefit you in other ways as well. We understand visual hierarchy and the use of color so that your customers click where you want them to, and spend time where you want them to.  (hint – you don’t want them clicking on a link to another site first!).  The goal of any e-commerce site is to get the customer to buy, not get distracted with social media or things that aren’t related to opening their wallet.  Understand your customer, understand what they want, and don’t assume they will find what they are looking for without some direction.  Here’s a bit more about the importance of Graphic Design in E-Commerce.

Unclear or Missing Value Proposition

You have about 5 seconds to grab the attention of a potential customer, and if you don’t clearly communicate who you are and why they should shop there immediately, chances are they are going to shop elsewhere.  Your value proposition should be clearly shown above the fold either as part of the hero space, or in the header itself.  Keep in mind that not all customers land on the home page, so it is always safer to include something this important in the header.  For example, in an industry like handmade soaps, you are going to be competing with thousands of other makers, so what makes you better than them?  Why should someone shop with you vs them?  Make that extremely clear in your value proposition and you’ll make the customer want to learn more about you and your products.

Insecure or Non-Compliant Site

Security and privacy have become huge concerns in the last couple of years due to highly publicized hacks and data scandals like Cambridge Analytics.  Making sure your site is 100% secure and that you are complying with regulations like GDPR is essential.  If your customer doesn’t feel secure, they aren’t going to push that ‘submit order’ button and if you get hacked, you are going to be on the hook for some HUGE fines.

Need help fixing one of the issues above on your site?  Feel free to contact us!