ecommerce mistakes to avoid in your business

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Navigating the online marketplace

Today’s consumers are shopping online more than ever before, so standing out as an ecommerce business is even more important. Because the marketplace is so competitive, your small business needs to make sure it’s doing everything to maximize success. That includes avoiding pitfalls that can hinder your business and your bottom line. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most common ecommerce mistakes, and how your company can avoid them. First, let’s briefly discuss ecommerce business.

What is ecommerce?

With the evolution of the internet, ecommerce, also known as electronic commerce, has gained popularity. Ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods or services on the internet. This is a broad term and it encompasses a whole range of data, systems and tools for online buyers and sellers. Think of ecommerce as setting up an online store for your business. Ecommerce also includes mobile device shopping and online payment encryption. Those who run ecommerce storefronts utilize popular platforms to help build their online presence through marketing, sales activities, and to oversee logistics and fulfillment.

For small businesses, there are several benefits of having an ecommerce presence. The first is that you’re able to sell directly to the consumer. With the rise of direct-to-consumer models, customers are more familiar with retailers who utilize this sales tactic. Selling directly to consumers can help you cut down on some of the costs associated with your business.

You’re also able to make it a seamless experience for customers, who can buy your products directly from promotional social media or email marketing. Now that you know more about ecommerce, let’s look at the top mistakes to avoid as you’re building your ecommerce business.

The top ecommerce mistakes to avoid

Not understanding your product or audience

When it comes to building your ecommerce store, you shouldn’t just assume that customers will want to buy your products. If it doesn’t solve a need they have or it doesn’t resonate with them, you’ll be left holding a bunch of products and a failed ecommerce business.There’s a lot that goes into understanding your potential customers, and avoiding this legwork can be detrimental to your business. Failed ecommerce businesses often do not do these things:

  • Market research: Vital to your success, market research includes researching and listening to the clients you’re trying to reach in order to develop your marketing strategy. You can find out a lot of great information from product information to customer service expectations just by listening and watching out for online conversations.
  • Define the target audience: Solving problems is an important aspect of any business. You should know the types of customers you’re trying to solve problems for before going into business. Just like you wouldn’t sell tires to someone who only uses the subway, you need to know what needs your products or services solve and who will benefit from them.
  • Price product appropriately: Some businesses fail when they price their products without observing what the market can support. Therefore, they end up pricing their products too high or too low. If you price your products too high, you will not make any sales. But if you price your products too low, you could run out of inventory or just be leaving money on the table.

Choosing the wrong ecommerce platform

Another common mistake in ecommerce is choosing the wrong platform for your ecommerce business. The right ecommerce platform that fits your needs can really make or break your business.

This is because your ecommerce platform determines how you’ll showcase your products and sell them to customers, how you attract customers and how you scale your business. One example of this is if you’re currently a direct-to-consumer business but hope to expand to business-to-business transactions down the road. You’ll want to make sure your ecommerce platform has the functionality to support both these capabilities. Here are some of the factors to consider when evaluating an ecommerce platform:

  • Your current and future product offering
  • Your growth plan, aka how you plan to scale your business
  • The level of control you want in managing your website
  • The tools your platform needs to integrate with
  • Your budget
  • If you want a custom design or a templated design

Your ecommerce website customer experience

The wrong ecommerce platform can cause major issues for your online business over time, including revenue loss, lower conversions, traffic reduction, security issues, poor design, and more. If you make a poor decision now, you may have to invest even more time, money and resources to update your platform or migrate to a different provider in the future.

Issues with navigation and user experience

Nothing will turn a customer away faster than a poor navigation experience. Think about it: how frustrating is it when you go to a site and can’t find what you’re looking for? Time is money for many consumers, so the longer they have to spend navigating your website, the more likely they are to go somewhere else.

However, that doesn’t mean the website can’t look good. In fact, a good website design will make customers want to spend more time on your site. Because of this, you can avoid navigation and user experience issues by working with a user experience (UX) expert to help optimize your ecommerce site. This can help users find the information they need more quickly, while also translating to more sales for your business.

Lack of payment/shipping options

There are a lot of companies vying for business in ecommerce. Therefore, little barriers to a smooth experience can hurt your business. One of these barriers is not accepting a customer’s preferred payment option. However, this is an easy fix. Many payment gateways offer support for the most popular payment methods, so you can be sure your customers have access to pay how they want.

Similarly, a lack of shipping options can also hinder the customer’s journey. Today, consumers want their products to be delivered quickly and for a nominal fee. In fact, many consumers now expect free shipping to be standard on their orders. However, even if your ecommerce business doesn’t offer free shipping, it should offer multiple options so that customers can pay to expedite their purchases if they want to.

Lack of content on product pages

When customers have an interest in your products, it makes sense that they’d go to your product pages to find out more information. However, a big mistake a lot of ecommerce websites make is a lack of content for each product. In the course of getting started, many business owners fail to give product pages the attention they deserve. Here are a few mistakes when it comes to product pages that you should avoid:

  • Not using reviews: Customers trust the judgment of other customers when evaluating your product. Therefore, it’s important to showcase social proof of your products, with glowing reviews on your pages. You should also make it easy for customers to give their own reviews, which can be done using CRM to prompt customers to leave a review with a simple click.
  • Not showing compelling photos: Customers want to know what they’re buying, and unappealing product images can turn off customers to your product. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your product photos are well lit and highlight the product in an enticing way.
  • Incomplete product descriptions: Customers want to find out a whole multitude of things when it comes to the product they’re about to buy from your business. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you highlight the product using compelling descriptions and include the right amount of detail for discerning customers. This is even more important when you consider search engine optimization (SEO).

Lack of social presence

Social media helps to give your company legitimacy and also helps you communicate with customers where they are. Therefore, it’s important that your ecommerce business evaluate the best places your business should be to reach your target customer. Some social media networks to consider include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or LinkedIn. By sharing engaging content that is relevant to your audience, you’ll be able to gain brand loyalty and convert more customers. Plus, your audience can become your marketers, as consumers tend to share their favorite brand’s engaging or relevant posts on their own social media channels.

Poor customer service

No matter what type of business you run, you’re likely to provide customer support. A good customer service experience can build brand loyalty with consumers, but poor customer service can ruin your business pretty quickly. But customer service isn’t just what happens when someone has a problem. While that’s a part of it, responding to user messages and comments on your website and social media also plays a role. It’s addressing customers over the phone and via email. Basically, it’s any interaction you have with a customer that requires attention.

And if you aren’t paying attention to how fast you’re responding to customers, that can also be detrimental. Businesses can lose customers quickly with slow response times, being impatient and not treating a customer as a top priority.

Complicated checkout processes

Some ecommerce companies are successful in getting customers almost completely through the checkout process. However, shopping cart abandonment is a big issue ecommerce businesses face. This happens when customers abandon their shopping carts due to a very confusing or complicated checkout process. This can spell disaster for your ecommerce business, as you’ve already got them 95% to the finish line.

To ensure a smooth checkout process, you’ll want to ensure it’s a simple process – from being able to order as a guest, to clear, direct language that spells out the entire process.

If you’re looking to start or grow an ecommerce business, you’ve seen how complicated it can be. Luckily, by heeding these common mistakes, you’ll be able to avoid a lot of headache and extra costs of making them. Focusing on the customer is the most important thing you can do, and where a lot of these mistakes come from. Removing as many barriers as possible to make the ecommerce experience seamless for customers is the overall key to success. Do that, and you’ll keep customers coming back again.

Ready to work with a payment processor who can help you accept ecommerce payments?

Heartland is the point of sale, payments and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need human-centered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 businesses trust us to guide them through market changes and technology challenges, so they can stay competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of managing the daily grind. Learn more at