It’s becoming more and more common to see literal ‘Brick and Mortar’ stores merging into a digital world through the use of ecommerce websites as an outlet to generate more sales. With this trend, it’s no surprise to see that the number of ecommerce stores is on the rise.
As the owners of these small businesses trying to break into a competitive online world, you might not know where to start or what mistakes to be on the lookout for so that you can stand the test of time and have a thriving online business.
While mistakes can give us an opportunity to learn, I’m pretty sure that most business owners would prefer to avoid as many mistakes as possible.
So let’s look at 6 of the most common mistakes made by ecommerce shops and how you can avoid them.
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Stop trying to Reinvent the Wheel
One of the most common mistakes that I come across while helping clients who are small business owners is that they think they need to change every little thing so that they are different from their competitors. In a way, they feel like they need to revolutionize the way that their customers shop online, or just change one more thing to try and get noticed by their customers, and as a result they sacrifice the functions of their presentation to do so.
While you should try to make your products better than your competitors, the way that you present your products online should remain relatively similar to the industry standard.
The reason I say this is because your customers want a shopping experience that they are familiar with and trust. This is why I will often recommend to my clients that they use well-known ecommerce platforms that are highly trusted such as Shopify or Woocommerce and use payment methods that their customers recognize and trust.
You never need to recreate or compromise the quality of your store’s functions such as shopping carts, payment methods etc. to give your shop a Unique Selling Position (USP). You should instead focus your time and energy on the things that will separate your products from the competition so that your brand is the best on the market.
A good rule of thumb while setting up your ecommerce store is that if something isn’t a selling feature for your brand then you should try to find another company who specializes in that service to take care of it for you.
(Example: Let’s say you’re setting up payment options for your online store, you should let Paypal, visa, apple pay etc. take care of the payment options unless your brand revolves around offering better online payment options.)
Make sure your web design is modern
The next most common mistake that I see being made by ecommerce startups is the design of their shops. I know that this is one area that small business owners feel like they can try and save money on by designing their own stores, and a lot of the time it turns out to be a failure, but you can avoid this mistake in 1 of 2 ways.
- Find an agency to outsource the project to
- Use a Ecommerce Template and DIY
(Option 2 will require that you learn a bit about web design and have a keen eye for design)
If your brand needs to look professional then I would suggest that you find a web design agency and have them build the website for you. If your brand doesn’t necessarily need to look top notch then you can buy a clean modern template that won’t make your customers wonder if they can trust you or not and then proceed with building it yourself.
A tip that I give to my clients is that the design of your store is not an area that you will want to cheap out on. Because the way that you look in a digital world is the perception that you’re giving to your potential customers and if they don’t trust you by the way that you look then you’ll find it very difficult to convince them to buy from you.
Get Responsive Web Design
While this mistake isn’t being made as often, it’s critical that you avoid this mistake from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) viewpoint, and you can avoid it simply by being aware.
What is Responsive Web Design?
A responsive website simply means that the website is designed to provide an optimal viewing experience regardless of what device or search engine you use to view the website.
For example, if your website has a responsive design then your customers won’t have to do things like “Pinch and Squeeze” their screens to see what you’re selling. Instead, the website’s images and text will all format properly to fit the device screen size to make the experience as easy as it would be on a laptop.
This mistake is especially important to avoid because almost 50% of all web searches being made from a mobile device, it’s imperative that your ecommerce store has a responsive design or else you’ll lose almost all your mobile shoppers and your SEO will suffer as a result.
I often suggest to my clients that they have their websites tested prior to launching their ecommerce stores to make sure that they are responsive across a variety of different mobile devices to make sure that any possible issues are taken care of so they can give their customers the best experience possible.
Find Your Target Audience
While this problem isn’t as prominent with business owners who own a ‘brick and mortar’ store and are trying to get their products online to reach their sale goals. It’s still common with ecommerce startups who see a way they can profit with a certain product but have no clue who they’re trying to sell to. In most cases, the owners will spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on ads just trying to get a generic audience interested in what they’re trying to sell before they try to find help in figuring out who their audience is.
The only way that you’ll be able to build a thriving ecommerce store that stands the test of time is by knowing exactly who you’re trying to sell to and then targeting that specific audience.
One of the ways that I have found to be successful in finding out who is your target audience is by creating an “Ideal Customer” portfolio and then find creative ways that you can sell to that specific audience.
To do this effectively you’ll need to gather analytical data from past sales and use some intuition to help determine which audience is the most likely to make a purchase from your business.
Once you have narrowed down your potential customers to a specific audience, you’ll begin to save a lot of money on ads while having a higher conversion rate by targeting the right customer base for your products.
Stop Complicating the Buying Process
I don’t think that there is any customer base in that world that enjoys a long, complicated buying process, and still it’s common to see ecommerce shops with this problem. And when you stop to think about it, it makes little sense to make it more difficult for your customers to purchase your products. If your customers have decided to make a purchase from your store then you should make it as convenient as possible for them to complete that purchase.
Here are some of the things that you should remember NOT TO DO when you’re designing your ecommerce store.
Never add hidden fees – It is important for you to be upfront with your customers from the start, but especially during the buying process. Tell them the exact price that it will cost them to receive your product and then stick to that price. I don’t think there’s anything more annoying than when you go to confirm your order and realize that the company you’re buying from snuck a hidden fee into the total of your purchase. When you add hidden fees you will start to see a trend of your customers ditching their shopping carts midway through the checkout stage and those customers will likely never shop at your store again.
Never make customers sign up – One big reason why a lot of customers will leave their carts mid-purchase is because the website has made it mandatory to either sign up through an email or make an account to complete the purchase. This is extremely inconvenient for the consumer and overcomplicates the buying process. You will also get no mobile shoppers because making an account through a mobile device then verifying that email address is a lot more hassle on a mobile device than on a laptop.
I realize that most ecommerce stores make their customers sign up so that they can get repeat customers and be able to email promos. If this is the case then you should make a pop up that gives the customer a coupon code for signing up through their email and then you’ll have a happy customer while getting their email for future promos.
Invest In a Logo
Imagine being able to get a ton of brand awareness as a small business without paying some huge marketing agency fee.
Well, You can! All you need to do is invest in a logo and then have that logo put on your products, so that anyone who sees your products during their busy days will know what brand makes that particular product by the logo.
This is a common problem with ecommerce stores. They have amazing products but don’t take the time to make sure that they brand their products with a simple logo so that they get free marketing for as long as their products are in daily use.
Just like your website design, your brand logo is not something that you want to cheap out on. Your logo is literally the face of your brand and is one of the only visual representations that allows your customers to differentiate your products from other competitors in your industry.
I would highly recommend that you hire a graphic designer to create a professional looking logo for your brand and do not attempt to do it yourself (Unless you have past experience with graphic design). The investment will be worth it if you plan on your brand staying around for the long run.
I hope that this guide will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes being made by ecommerce startups and help boost your online shop in an increasingly competitive eccomerce world
Caleb is the Co-Founder of Artiiseo, a digital marketing firm in Winnipeg Canada. He’s an avid reader of anything marketing and loves to share his knowledge of successful marketing strategies with business owners through writing.