Sales Suicide: 10 Costly E-commerce Mistakes to Avoid [TIPS]

Small to medium e-commerce stores can find it hard to compete against more well-known stores, especially when consumers are used to such high standards of online shopping. For this reason, it’s essential for every online store to iron out design and functionality problems in order to maximise sales.

Following this post on e-commerce design mistakes, here are 10 more common mistakes made by e-commerce sites that are likely to impact customer retention and harm sales.

1. Failing to Adapt

Many e-commerce entrepreneurs make the mistake of building a site, then barely changing it. By regularly altering your product mix, uploading new content, and publicising regular deals, visitors will have a reason to revisit your store. It will also improve your site’s SEO performance. Consider including a blog, and always take advantage of holiday periods with special deals.

2. No Product Links on the Homepage

Does your homepage promote your business more than your products? While it’s important to reassure visitors by revealing more about your business, save this information for the “About” page. The homepage is a valuable space to promote your current special offers and most popular products. Help customers find your best deals with clear links to multiple sections of your store.

3. An Out-Of-Date SSL/TLS Certificate

If your SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate or TLS (transport layer security) certificate is not up to date, most online shoppers won’t purchase anything from you. Furthermore, stores that have no certificate at all are violating the payment industry’s compliance guidelines. Remember to renew your certificates before they expire so that customers can be confident their transactions are secure.

4 . Poor Browser Compatibility

If you don’t have the necessary technical knowledge, work with your webmaster to make your site as compatible as possible with all internet browsers. If it isn’t fully compatible, many visitors will encounter usability issues which could seriously harm your reputation and damage sales.

5. No Site Map

Most punters understand the importance of user-friendly navigation. However, not every e-commerce site includes a site map. Many potential customers are going to want to know the basic structure of your site to quickly find what they’re looking for. Not only will a site map improve site usability, it will also improve your website’s natural search (SEO) performance.

6. Ignoring the Potential of Video

The marketing potential of video cannot be ignored.  Video search engines like YouTube, Vimeo and DailyMotion can be the perfect marketing vehicle for many product sold online.  Store videos can help prospects see the full potential of your products. And by linking to your videos from various online platforms, you can increase brand awareness and create viral ads linked to your store.

7. Inferior Customer Service

You won’t get loyal customers without good customer service, and loyal customers lead to repeat sales. Focus on exceeding customers’ expectations. Answer email enquiries promptly, confirm orders immediately, and send out emails when products are shipped. Customers who would rather not give their credit card details online also need to know they can order by phone.

8. Boring Product Descriptions

Describe exactly how a customer will benefit from owning a product – don’t just list the technical features (benefits rather than features). Make each product page rank higher in the search results pages by offering original descriptions of each product. Don’t just copy text provided by your suppliers. A little time spent on writing inspirational product copy will bring your products to life, and should stimulate sales.  More on this here and here.

9. A Difficult Checkout Process

A complicated checkout procedure will inevitably harm sales. People who’re less familiar with e-commerce sites will naturally make mistakes that lead to shopping cart abandonment. Avoid long forms, offer multiple payment options, and offer visitors the option to checkout without registering.

10. Hidden Contact Details

Unless you’re a well-known company, visitors will often look for your contact information before they do anything else. If your contact details don’t appear on every page, you could be driving away potential customers. At least consider including a “Contact Us” page. If you don’t have a dedicated phone number, try a service like Google Voice that includes voicemail. And if you work from home, you could provide a physical address or UPS/DHL/PayPal store address.

In a Nutshell…

Making the online shopping experience as effortless and enjoyable as possible must be the priority for every online store. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can make sure you have the best chance of retaining customers and maximising sales.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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