16 Critical Ecommerce Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Online
Running a business is like climbing a mountain. Sometimes you’re on the up-and-up, and other times you hit obstacles that hinder your progress. Like a rock climber, you need the right tools, expertise, and determination to reach the top.
That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself for success by avoiding common ecommerce mistakes that other entrepreneurs make on their ecommerce journey.
In in this blog you’ll learn what ecommerce mistakes to avoid — and how to set yourself up for business success.
In this ecommerce pitfalls guide:
- Choosing the wrong ecommerce platform
- Not defining your target audience
- Not taking time to understand your customer
- Making copy mistakes
- Not utilizing a scalable website design
- Complex website navigation and poor UX
- Website content isn’t CRO or SEO-friendly
- Complicated checkout process
- Limited payment options
- No strong brand message or lack of identity
- Lack of social proof
- Poor customer service
- Lack of marketing
- Not keeping up with competitors
- Lackluster imagery
- Frequently asked questions
Choosing the wrong ecommerce platform.
Whether you’re just starting your ecommerce business or you’ve been running an online store for some time, your ecommerce platform can truly make (or break) your business.
Not only does your ecommerce platform determine how you showcase your products and sell to customers, but it also plays a role in how you attract users, and how you scale your business over time.
Once you have a business plan in place, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors while choosing an ecommerce platform, such as:
- What products you plan to offer
- How you plan to scale your business
- How much control you want to have over your website
- What tools your platform needs to integrate with
- Your budget
- Whether you want a templated design or a custom design
- What kind of experience your customers are looking for
Not defining your target audience.
You have products, you have a business plan, and you have a website – what more could you need?
Unfortunately, simply having an offer and a place to sell it aren’t enough to truly be successful with ecommerce (or any type of business).
One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is not clearly defining their target audience, and taking the time to understand what makes them tick.
You’ll need to take a deep dive into the market research to ensure that:
- Your audience has a need for your product.
- You know how to communicate your offer in language they will understand.
- You can develop a marketing strategy that puts your target audience front and center.
Defining and understanding your target audience will help you create an experience that resonates with them and a brand message that entices them to buy time and time again.
Not taking time to understand your customers.
In every area of your B2C or B2B business, you want to keep your ideal customer in mind. To create a profile of who this “customer” is, you will need to conduct market research.
This research typically involves:
- Learning your customers’ pain points
- Hearing what solutions they’ve tried in the past (and why they haven’t worked)
- Knowing what values are important to them
- Figuring out where and how they engage with content online
- Testing what kind of language resonates with them
- Addressing what problems your products solve for them
With this information, you’ll be better positioned to get your products in front of the right people and communicate why your products stand out from those of your competitors
Copy is the written content on your website. It’s your product description, your ordering pages, and even your brand logo. Mistakes in the copy can make your website seem amateur. And people are less likely to order from a business that appears amateur.
Typos, misspellings, and incorrect word choice can all contribute to people feeling unsure about your website. Mistakes with your website appear unprofessional and customers are likely to feel uncomfortable handing their money to an unprofessional business.
Double and triple check all your content regularly for typos, misspellings, and poor grammar. Likewise, you’ll want to make your copy engaging. Consider the following when writing copy:
- Your brand voice.
- Your target audience – what “voice” do they expect?
- Your product descriptions.
- Ensuring strong and correct keyword use.
Not utilizing a scalable website design.
Avoid this ecommerce mistake by selecting the right ecommerce platform. The best choice lays the foundation for your business success – that includes utilizing a website design that is set up for future growth.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking small. If you have a vision of expanding into new markets, integrating complex features, and offering a wider range of products, then your website should be set up to accommodate this.
Make sure to discuss your options with your ecommerce platform representative and/or your web developer to ensure that your website design can evolve as your business grows. If you don’t, you may face some expensive (and time-consuming) obstacles in the future.
Complex website navigation and poor UX.
Maintaining a difficult-to-use website is a common ecommerce mistake.
Your website should be a collaboration between functionality and design. Not only do you want your website to look good, but you want it to convert users into paying customers.
If your site navigation uses confusing terms, if your content is hard to find, or if certain features aren’t working properly, users will get frustrated and go somewhere else.
To avoid this, optimize your website to deliver a powerful user experience, including smooth navigation and an enjoyable user experience for your customers. This will help users find the information they are looking for faster — which means more sales for you.
Publishing web content that isn’t CRO or SEO-friendly.
If your ecommerce business relies on organic traffic in order to attract customers, then your website content should be written with both the user and SEO in mind.
Many businesses make the mistake of treating their content as an afterthought — not recognizing that each piece of content is an opportunity to attract more traffic and convert customers.
From your homepage to your product descriptions, you need to offer content that is on point for your target audience, is optimized for search engine traffic, and entices users to buy your products.
Whether you work with an SEO agency or are taking the DIY route, it’s worth investing in content that’s optimized for SEO and CRO-friendly. That means utilizing the right high-quality keywords for your niche and writing copy that’s made to sell.
Making the buying process too complicated.
To increase conversions, make the checkout process as simple as possible.
Don’t require that customers set up an account before buying a product. Get their money first, then add them to your email list. Eliminate any obstacles in their way.
Website copy should be clear, detailed, and concise. Outline the exact steps they need to take to make a purchase. Buttons should be big and eye-catching.
Finally, make sure you aren’t hitting them with any unexpected terms or fees. Everything should be defined from the beginning. Making a purchase involves a degree of trust and you don’t want to give customers any reason to think that you are being sneaky or spammy.
Limited payment options.
Customers expect to be able to pay via a variety of means online. Debit cards and credit cards are often a given, but some users prefer to pay by other means, like PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay. Others still may prefer to make purchases on your Amazon sales channel.
Limiting the range of payment options you’ll accept can deter customers who prefer to pay a certain way from purchasing your products. You’ll be effectively blocking a portion of your audience from purchasing with you.
No strong brand message or identity.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your products are good enough to sell themselves. In order to create a thriving business, you will need to cultivate a strong brand identity that will relatable to your audience and will be conducive to viral brand awareness.
If you’ve done your market research, you should have a solid idea of what your audience is looking for, and what type of language speaks to them. Then it’s just a matter of being consistent and unwavering in your messaging.
Whether your brand represents high-quality, trustworthiness, fun, or affordability, your values should be evident in all of your content, branding, and marketing.
Having a strong brand identity increases customer loyalty and increases your potential for widespread brand awareness.
Lack of social proof.
Social proof comes in several forms: good reviews on your website or in search engines and a strong and engaged social media following. Having neither of these can make customers wary of shopping with you.
Of course, when you first set up your business, you’re likely to have fewer reviews and a small following on social media. However, by updating your social profiles regularly and creating content that people want to interact with a share, you can take the steps to building your follower and subscriber numbers.
Encourage people to leave reviews on your site by reminding them after purchase, or offering incentives to do so, like a small discount on future orders.
Poor customer service.
Customer service includes many different aspects. Avoid common ecommerce mistakes in this area by tightening up your service.
Customer service includes how you respond to user messages through your website. It’s how you respond to questions and comments on social media. It’s how you address customers complaints over the phone and via email. It’s any interaction you have with a customer that requires your attention and support.
Poor customer support (including slow response time, showing impatience, and not offering refunds) is the surest way to lose existing customers and hinder getting new ones.
Lack of marketing.
Absent or poor marketing is a common ecommerce mistake made by businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Your audience won’t hear about your business if you don’t spread the word and if your communication isn’t honest and relatable, people will see through it.
Make sure you’re marketing to the right people on the platform, and in the correct way. Consider who your target audience is and how and where they want to be marketed to.
Your communication needs to be regular, but unintrusive – if you bombard your audience with sales messages, they’re likely to head elsewhere.
Not keeping up with competitors.
You want to climb above your competitors and reach the top of your industry. To do that you need to learn from others’ mistakes, while keeping your eye on the prize.
By being aware of the most common pitfalls that other entrepreneurs experience in ecommerce, you can avoid unexpected costs and time-sucks in your business.
Not only will you be sure that your ecommerce website it optimized for success, but you will create a following of happy, loyal customers that are excited to buy your products time and time again.
The best way to sell your products is with engaging and eye-catching imagery that shows your items in the best light. Your product imagery is the only way your audience will be able to see what they’re buying before choosing whether to make the purchase.
Poor imagery can result in customers heading elsewhere to spend their money. Some common pitfalls to avoid include:
- Poor image quality
- Images that are too small or too large
- Images that are too dark or too bright
- Obscured products
- Products only visible from one angle
You want to be honest with your imagery. Depending on the nation you live in, you may have legal obligations to advertise your product as described.
Frequently asked ecommerce questions.
What is ecommerce?
Ecommerce is an online business method focused on driving internet-based sales, via a website. A customer browses an online store and places an order via a website portal. The order is then delivered to them by the business.
What are the three types of ecommerce?
The three types of ecommerce business are B2B (business-to-business), B2C (business-to-consumer) and C2C (consumer-to-consumer). It is possible for a business to operate across these different sectors.
What is the difference between ecommerce and ebusiness?
Ebusiness refers to all business conducted via an online platform. Ecommerce, meanwhile, is a subset of ebusiness and refers to the buying and selling of items.