7th November 2016

5 common e-commerce pitfalls to avoid


Five pitfalls that limit e-commerce success.

Using a website to sell products can be a great way of making money. Rather than paying rent and utilities for a bricks and mortar store and hiring staff, you can open a virtual store online and sell to anyone and everyone with very little overhead.

Whilst similar to starting a physical store, simply putting a website online won’t necessarily guarantee sales. Many people assume that an e-commerce store is a quick and easy way to move products, but there are many things that can go wrong and that require a certain amount of forethought and planning.

Below are 5 of the most common e-commerce mistakes you should do your best to avoid.

1/ Poor Site Navigation

There aren’t too many things that can discourage a consumer quicker than poor navigation. Hard-to-find information, a lack of buttons and too many font types and colors all lead to customer frustration and therefore reduced sales. Your e-commerce store must be easy to navigate.

People should be able to click through images to the product page, see more information about a product and click on the header at the top to take them back to the homepage. Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to your site’s navigation; use navigation best practices to get the most out of your site.

2/ Insufficient Product Images

A picture is worth a thousand words.  We’ve all heard the expression but in e-commerce this is extremely important.  The only way for consumers to truly understand what they’re buying online is through product images. They cannot pick up the object or test it out, but must infer from the images you choose that it is what they’re looking for. Make sure to offer more than one product shot, preferably from multiple angles. If the product is available in different colors, make sure to include pictures of those options too.

3/ Complicated Check-Out Process

Once a purchasing decision has been made, the customer should be able to make their purchase quickly and with as few clicks as possible. Make sure to offer a “check-out as a guest” option so that people who don’t wish to create an account don’t have to. If possible, keep your check-out process to one screen.

4/ Poor Choice of Shipping Options

All consumers like to have options, and this is especially true for shipping. Be sure to offer a variety of shipping methods in terms of delivery time and price. It’s hard for a customer to justify making a purchase from you if there’s only one shipping option and it costs as much as the item they’re buying.

This also helps you, the business owner, because different shipping providers offer different perks. Diversifying your shipping options also helps in the event of a natural disaster or other work stoppage; even if one carrier is effective, you might still be able to fulfill orders by switching to a different vendor.

5/ Lack of Customer Service

The customer is king.  Even though consumers will be purchasing online and not speaking face-to-face with a sales rep, customer service is very important. Make it as easy as possible for consumers to get their questions answered, speak to a person or file a complaint. You must be prepared to take returns and process a variety of payments, including refunds if necessary.

The lesson is simple: your company may be new, but there’s plenty to learn from established companies.  Be sure to research your competitors as these will be a good guide as to what works and what doesn’t in your industry.  All the best.

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