10 Painful E-Commerce Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

e-commerce mistakes

The world of e-commerce is competitive. And. e-commerce mistakes can sink your marketing efforts, even damaging your reputation in a way that can reduce sales from your physical store. Too many companies don’t understand what really matters in this ever-expanding digital marketplace, and without the right guidance, they will continue to feel the repercussions of their blunders through poor market performance.

e-commerce mistakes

Don’t fall for any of these e-commerce mistakes! In this post, we aim to help you in your digital marketing journey by showing you what not to do. Here are 10 painful e-commerce mistakes you need to avoid at all costs.

E-commerce mistakes to avoid 

1.    You haven’t defined your audience

One of the most serious e-commerce mistakes to avoid is not defining your target market or incorrectly defining your target market. Your target market encompasses the subgroup or subgroups of consumers most likely to buy your product based on the following:

  1. need
  2. money
  3. authority
  4. desire

Consumers buy products to solve a problem. If you reach consumers who don’t have the problem or don’t care to fix it, nothing you do can motivate them toward purchase. Finding those consumers (targeting) and producing promotions designed to motivate them to buy (positioning) is key to the success of any marketing effort; whether online or off.

Marketers commonly define the target market based on similarities across demographics (age, income, etc), geography (country, region, etc), psychographics (lifestyle, etc), and behavioral variables (usage occasion, usage rate) that make their needs different than the population at large. You can’t simply sit in your office and determine your target market. You must do some research to build an accurate definition of your target market. For instance, what characteristics do your current customers and members of your communities (such as fans on Facebook) share? Or, if you don’t have this data yet, look at the consumers who follow your competition. How can you build a target market of consumers who will find your product more enticing than the ones already offered by your competition? Or, conduct a survey to find consumers who like your product and collect data necessary to build your market.

2.    You don’t have a clear brand identity

The task of increasing customer loyalty and spreading awareness for your product does not fall on the product. It takes a strong brand identity to help your business truly succeed. Use the market research and data gathered on your target market to find a language that speaks to them and spread a consistent, appealing message in an authentic “voice” to reach your target market.

Develop clear messaging and graphics, such as a logo, that give confidence to your buyers and create a brand personality they love. For instance, Godiva ensures everything about the brand from packaging to quality evokes feelings of indulgence to motivate buyers, who pay premium prices to purchase products as gifts and as a self-reward. Buying Godiva says something about the buyer and, when given as gifts, about the value they place on the recipient.

3.    You don’t work hard to deliver a great user experience

user experience

According to research:

  • 8 in 10 customers will pay more for a better user experience.
  • Every $1 invested in UX brings $100 in return, which is a ROI of a 9,900%.
  • A high-quality user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to 200%.
  • A website optimized with UX design can yield conversion rates up to 400%.

To make your store stand out from the endless available online shopping options, you must consider the user experience and take steps to make it as positive as possible. Do so by making your landing pages attractive, easy to navigate, fast loading, and optimized for the web.

The latter may include strategic categories, keyword phrases, and other considerations that we expand on below. Optimizing for mobile use is another crucial factor you would be remiss to overlook.

4.    You use low-quality product photos

Online photos are powerful and can say a lot about your brand. That’s why it’s important to post only high-quality images that portray your products in the best light. Research shows that 25% of e-commerce sites provide product images that are, “insufficient for users’ need to perform a visual exploration and evaluation of a product”. Zapps did A/B testing to find that even rotating the shoe image impacted sales volume.  From utilizing professional photography to sophisticated graphic design, you need appealing images on your site that help the customer make an informed decision.

Besides the impact of poor images on the appeal of your products to website visitors, poor image quality also makes you look unprofessional and may lead visitors to assume they can’t trust you or the quality of the products you sell.

5.    You use poor product descriptions

If your descriptions are simply pasted information from the manufacturer, you’re doing the product page a great disservice. Every product description should be unique and well-crafted to draw customers in, explain why they need the product, and illustrate how it might improve their lives. Use descriptions to evoke an emotional response to the product to increase sales.

Be sure to properly optimize and tailor the content and the headings to the specific customer base to create greater appeal, boost SEO efforts, and increase conversions.

6.    You have a difficult checkout process

shopping cart abandonment

Does your site see a lot of abandoned carts? It could be because your checkout process is clunky or confusing.

According to research, 17% of US online shoppers have abandoned an order in the past quarter solely due to a “too long/complicated checkout process”. When customers encounter such difficulties, it sours the user experience, leaving them frustrated and eager to find the product somewhere else.

Clean up the process and make it as simple as possible by eliminating obstacles, using concise language, and outlining the exact steps to complete the transaction. Avoid including unexpected terms or fees at all costs. By limiting the amount of information required, allowing guest checkout, and reducing the number of required clicks, you optimize the checkout process.

7.    You don’t provide great customer service

Another way to help foster a positive user experience is to build relationships with customers once the purchase is completed. A well-crafted email marketing campaign helps you stay in touch by sending birthday and holiday greetings, ensuring customers received their products on time and enjoyed them, and reminding them to review the product. Of course, you can easily go from building a relationship to being annoying, so monitor email performance until you find the sweet spot.

Provide fast, easy, and transparent customer service to address problems and questions with multiple service options.

8.    Your website content isn’t optimized for SEO and conversion


According to research, SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate and 60% of marketers say that inbound marketing (SEO, blog content, etc.) is their highest quality source of leads.

SEO is a complex strategy that brings search traffic to your website by improving the rank of your content. Based on a long algorithm, SEO considers factors that improve the satisfaction users feel when using the search engine. SEO is keyword driven, using the users’ query to find the right search results, then ranking them to provide the best content first. You can optimize your content by creating valuable content (in the eyes of your target market) on a consistent basis, focusing on the keywords your market uses in their queries, ensuring pages load quickly, and creating engagement with your social network and other website owners that acts to validate the value of your content. Sure, you can do other actions to improve your rank, but doing these few activities has the greatest impact on your SEO performance.

9.    You don’t analyze your data

Data is an invaluable asset and, if you aren’t properly analyzing it, you’re losing out. To thrive, you can’t continue with the same, ineffectual marketing strategies. You must re-examine the performance of your marketing campaigns frequently and develop insights based on key metrics contained in your data.

If you don’t perform these regular inquiries, how else will you know which approaches are working and which are wasting your time and money?

10. You chose the wrong e-commerce platform

The capabilities of the e-commerce platform you use play a key role in how you scale your business over time and attract users. If you choose the wrong platform, it could lead to a range of issues such as lower conversions, security breaches, poor design, traffic reduction, and even revenue loss.

Make sure you’re making the right choice to best suit your current and future needs.

E-commerce mistakes happen

e-commerce mistakes

Getting the perfect e-commerce website is not easy. The key is to learn from your mistakes and use the knowledge gained to make changes and drive business growth. As you do so, watch for other areas for possible improvements and keep moving forward.

AUTHOR BIO: Aaron Wittersheim is Chief Operating Officer at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency. He has helped startups, middle-market firms and Fortune 500 companies improve organizational structure and grow through his expertise in process conception, task automation, technology, and internal project management.

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