5 Common E-commerce Mistakes That Are Killing Your Sales
Being successful in e-commerce comes with a steep learning curve (if you haven’t noticed already). There are various tactics and strategies to generate leads, acquire more customers, encourage repeat purchases and incentivize brand evangelism.
But there are also a ton of potential mistakes along the way, the inevitable ‘trial and error’ of starting and sustaining your own retail business.
The good news: you have a ton of examples to learn from. So avoid these 5 common e-commerce mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to increasing brand resonance and, most importantly, boosting your revenue.
MISTAKE #1: SUBPAR VISUAL BRANDING
We live in a visual world. Content is consumed at astronomical rates. YouTube alone gets over 800M video views per month and that’s nothing to say of other social media platforms, blog sites, and of course online retail stores.
When it comes to selling online, you have to be able to bridge the gap. Since customers can’t walk into a physical shop, they have to be able to experience a brand from a distance.
A large part of that is visual branding, not only professional product shots but campaigns that invite browsers into the lifestyle of what you’re offering. Think of your website like a window display. What would get someone to actually walk in and want to spend some time there? What would make the exchange of attention actually worth it?
That’s what every online retailer is battling for, just 5 seconds of a browser’s day to hopefully make an impression that leads to a sale. Don’t blow your chance at a customer because you haven’t made your e-commerce store look attractive.
MISTAKE #2: GENERIC COPYWRITING
Contrary to popular belief, people do read when they’re shopping. Even if it’s just a call-to-action, you should look to add as much personalization as possible. After all, you are selling to a real person.
Having a target consumer in mind will inform what language you use across the site that will actually connect and convert. Online retail is a conversation not just a simple transaction and browsers are looking (explicitly or subconsciously) for reasons to trust you.
Speaking to a ‘specific person’ helps to break down those initial barriers because the customer gets the impression that you understand them. They want to be reassured that they’re in the right place and that what you have will actually help them accomplish whatever goal they’ve intended to meet.
That’s the importance of copywriting— explicitly expressing your value and the benefits the customer enjoys from making a purchase with you. From your home page to your product descriptions, you should look to engage them at each possible point and like any good conversation, the content and tone should be relevant and relatable.
MISTAKE #3: PRODUCT OVERLOAD
It’s pretty simple math right? The more you have to sell, the more they have to buy.
Well, not exactly.
Shopping is all about choice but that doesn’t mean you have to burden potential customers with options.
The stores that do the best (not counting marketplace juggernauts like Amazon) have well curated offerings, with products that are complementary or logical extensions. That means not only can you cross-sell but you can also upsell, and offer varying tiers of pricing that can increase your average order value (and add more money to your bottom line).
Don’t force them to have to sift through your offerings. More isn’t always better.
By simplifying their shopping you’re actually improving their overall experience and making it easier for them to get to checkout. Don’t underestimate the value of a shorter journey, especially when it comes to busy customers.
MISTAKE #4: NO SHOPPING INCENTIVES
Since the dawn of e-commerce, cart abandonment has been the bane of its existence. There’s nothing worse than digging into your analytics and seeing someone get so close to becoming a customer—only to disengage at checkout.
Wondering why? It could be something as simple as shipping charges.
A study in the Journal of Retailing explored the influence of shipping fees on customer acquisition and retention, noting that incentivized shipping on larger orders may even outperform generalized free shipping. It’s all about the perception of value.
Customers want to feel rewarded commensurate to the hard-earned cash they’re choosing to spend with you. Don’t give them a reason to have to google a competitor. If you can’t offer free shipping outright, have a threshold that guarantees it after customers spend a certain amount.
That way, you’ll still have a profitable sale even when you incur costs to deliver the products. Or you can offer a free gift with a purchase of a higher ticket item or special bundle.
The key is to secure a transaction while you have their attention, instead of hoping that they’ll come back after they ‘think it over’.
MISTAKE#5: MISMANAGING EXPECTATIONS
The golden rule of business is “only offer what you can provide”. A lot of e-commerce companies start off by competing on price, offering the lowest price or having sale after sale in order to generate quick revenue.
The problem is that, over time, you start to train customers as to what to expect. No one who is aware that there’s a 30% sale every month will have any reason to purchase a full price product.
That’s just one example but you get the gist.
Good business is all about being able to deliver consistently. It gets more and more difficult if you start with a model that will require you to pivot later on.
You may end up alienating your consumer base and no buyers equals no business. It’s a scary prospect but nonetheless a reality for e-commerce entrepreneurs. Make sure you’re building and branding your business with longevity in mind.