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8 Big eCommerce Mistakes To Avoid

8 Big eCommerce Mistakes To Avoid

Mistakes happen in all walks of life, everyone knows that. As long as humans are involved in some form, no business can ever truly operate at 100% efficiency.

That fact makes running any type of eCommerce business a challenge. Things will go wrong, and a lot of the time it won’t be something you can control either which builds frustration.

You could say the experience is a bit like that inconvenient car journey when you’re going away – you’re starting with a plan and you obviously know where you want to get to, but you’ve got to avoid all the obstacles that come your way during the journey and take the rough times with the smooth. Above everything, the destination is well worth making the trip.

Sometimes on that journey, you’ll enjoy the times when things feel easy and everything is going your way – but there will also be those times when you feel trapped because nothing is going to plan. The key is to always stay determined and keep focused on your destination which, for eCommerce, is a successful online business.

It’s the journey then that needs preparation, which is why we believe it’s so important to gear up for success in eCommerce. By avoiding some of the most common errors that other entrepreneurs have made, you can save yourself a lot of stress and ultimately reach your goals quicker.

This post will run through some of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen during our time as Magento specialists; from not selecting the right eCommerce platform, to begin with, right through to flat out ignoring the user experience. If you can avoid these, you’ll be well on your way to online success!

Mistake 1 – Choosing The Wrong eCommerce Platform

When it comes to building your online business empire, selecting the right platform is the equivalent to choosing your car for the long journey ahead.

It needs to be comfortable, reliable and also able to take you all the way – there’s no point picking a platform that will restrict your growth just when you start to see some success. Your choice of eCommerce platform can make or break your business, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running an online store for a long time.

Your choice of eCommerce platform can make or break your business, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running an online store for a long time.

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This is a big decision and one we often see new entrepreneurs get wrong.

As Magento specialists, we obviously back one particular eCommerce platform but you should think long and hard here. Not only will your choice of platform impact how you showcase your product catalogue, but it will also play a significant role in how you attract new customers to your store as well as how you scale over time. Any business looking for long-term success should heed this warning!

Some of the most important things we think you’ll want to consider include:

  • The products you plan to sell
  • The type of design you want, be it a template or completely custom
  • How much control you need over your store
  • How you want to scale your offering over time
  • Any particular tools or features you’ll need to succeed
  • Your budget

Choosing the wrong eCommerce platform for your business just puts everything out of place in the future, and all your hard work may have to be undone when you need to move things forward. If your platform limits your growth, won’t work alongside your existing systems or just isn’t giving you the control you need, this can have a disastrous impact on things like traffic, conversion rate or revenue.

Making a mistake of this size when taking your first steps into eCommerce can prove critical. You’ll have to invest even more of your time, energy and money into switching platform again, without having taken any steps forward in your journey. Take your time and make the right decision (choose Magento!).

Mistake 2 – Not Understanding Your Target Audience

So, you’ve got your business plan and some amazing products to sell. You’ve also chosen the perfect eCommerce platform, what’s next?

Well, in today’s crowded marketplace, those things on their own aren’t quite enough anymore. To truly enjoy success selling online, you need to avoid the common mistake of just thinking you can ‘built it and they will come’.

Modern-day business owners often fall into the trap of choosing NOT to define their target audience, ignoring the needs of potential customers and going with what they think will work based on a hunch. With the huge amount of data available nowadays, tapping into the thought process of your customers to find out what makes them tick can be the difference between success and failure.

Market research has and always will be crucial, so our advice as eCommerce and Magento specialists – don’t avoid it!

Is there a genuine need for your product from your target audience? Are you able to communicate your offering in a way they will understand and engage with? Can you build a marketing strategy that keeps everything entirely focused on your core audience?

Defining your target market before you’ve even started selling allows you to construct an online experience that resonates with your customers. Building trust and loyalty over months and years are invaluable to any business, so your brand message needs to be one that continually entices users both new and old.

One of the best ways to do your own market research is to ‘profile’ one individual that you can constantly reference as your target market.

You’ll need to:

  • understand and learn their pain points
  • listen to the solutions they’ve tried in the past (as well as why these haven’t worked)
  • know what values they feel are important
  • work out how best to engage with them from a marketing perspective

Take all of the above seriously and you’ll be much better positioned to get your products in front of the right audience, perhaps even ahead of your competitors if you really nail it!

Mistake 3 – Not Allowing For Growth

As we’ve already highlighted in this post, failing to plan for the long-term future of your business is NOT the way to go about things. You need to lay the foundations for success, which should include a website design that allows for growth and isn’t limiting in that respect.

All too often we speak to entrepreneurs that have started a small local business with little in the way of expectations, but suddenly they’ve reached a point where things have grown rapidly and they are now struggling to keep up with the store’s popularity.

If you can see a long-term future for your business that may involve expanding into new markets, adding more complex features into your store or increasing the range of products you sell, your site should be set up to accommodate this from day one. Failing to do this can be costly, both financially and in terms of the time taken to resolve things.

Our advice here as Magento specialists is not to make the mistake of thinking too small. You may not reach the dizzying heights you imagine, but at least your store will be prepared in the event that you do.

Craig Keith

Support Manager

Media Lounge

Mistakes happen in every walk of life, however the difference is the failure to learn from those mistakes in eCommerce can be fatal for your business. It’s worth noting that life’s greatest lessons are learned at the worst of times. Take those valuable life lessons and apply them to your business to get a head start on your competition.

Mistake 4 – Creating A Poor User Experience (UX)

Like most things in the world of technology, you want your eCommerce store to be a perfect blend of fantastic design and brilliant functionality – something that is much more challenging than you might anticipate.

You don’t want a good-looking website that isn’t backed up by any decent features, nor do you want a site that functions brilliantly but isn’t particularly pleasant on the eye. We often see confusing navigation options, content that is hard to understand and certain features that are just plain broken on many sites across the internet. Blending everything together perfectly is truly a skill many don’t possess.

So, don’t make the mistake of ignoring the journey your customer is going to take when using your site. One of the best ways to ensure you consider every angle is to work alongside a user experience (UX) expert – they will optimise your store at every point along the buying process and bring an enjoyable experience to your customers.

Any eCommerce business should want to help its customers find information faster, navigate quicker and checkout easier.

Your choice of eCommerce platform can make or break your business, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running an online store for a long time.

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Mistake 5 – Not Making The Site SEO-Friendly

One of the best ways to bring success to your eCommerce store for years to come is investing in SEO or search engine optimisation. By working to optimise your site for Google and other search engines, you can rank higher on their results pages and therefore gain more traffic.

Unfortunately, it’s very common for entrepreneurs to focus all their energy elsewhere and only later down the line is the site’s content visited as an afterthought. Our advice here is to consider each piece of content on your site as an opportunity to attract more traffic and ultimately make more sales in the long run.

SEO is a practise that can take months to have an impact on traffic numbers and while the results can be substantial, it’s not unusual to see a slow and steady rise in users over time. For any new eCommerce business, that is perfect as you’ll probably be focused on driving traffic to your store through other channels like paid advertising and social media initiatives. Organic traffic can then take over the mantle further into your organisation’s life.

As long as your site is set up to win from day one, you can take advantage of the benefits SEO can bring.

Our advice here? Everything needs to be optimised, from your homepage meta data right through to the content on your product pages. As Magento specialists, we know that taking the time to optimise every element of your store is worthwhile in the end, regardless of whether you sign up with an SEO agency or take on the work yourself.

Mistake 6 – Not Making It Easy To Checkout

Perhaps the hardest part of operating an eCommerce business is encouraging your customers to go through with their purchase. In a world where price comparison is quick and easy, you need to make sure your store is geared up to convert at every stage of the sales funnel.

When it comes to closing the deal, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to go about it. We, unfortunately, see a lot of online stores struggle with high cart abandonment rates because they are approaching the checkout part of the funnel in the wrong way. Time-consuming, unnecessarily complicated and also requires sign-up? Customers aren’t going to bother buying with you, they’ll go to your competitors.

Keeping it simple is the best policy here – if it’s quick and simple to checkout, your conversion rate will increase.

Avoid common mistakes like forcing customers to set up an account with you before you have their money. Let them get what they want first, then add their details to your email list through a GDPR-compliant opt-in checkbox. Customers will grow frustrated if they can’t get through the checkout process and will likely give up mid-transaction.

Also, keep your content within the checkout clear and concise. List out the exact steps your customers need to follow with big buttons that are eye-catching and follow an obvious pathway.

Last but by no means least, don’t throw in any additional fees or charges at the last minute – this is a big no-no. Customers have to trust you if they’re going to part with their cash, so giving them a reason to doubt your credibility is a bad idea.

Thien-Lan Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at OneStepCheckout has this to say about using simple checkouts to help reduce cart abandonment on your eCommerce store:

” Most online businesses are obsessed with getting more traffic to their stores. However, there is a much more effective way to get more sales and improve your bottom line. Just by adding technology you can reduce Cart Abandonment and boost your Checkout Conversion.

With Cart Abandonment at over 70% globally, it’s over 1 Trillion dollars lost annually. We now have data and insights available to help mitigate this.

Both Consumer and Merchant studies show that the top reasons for cart abandonment are: unexpected costs, speed and form filling complexity. Most of it can be addressed with UX design.

Merchants with the best checkout conversion offer free shipping, do not require to set up an account and take 50% less time and 50% fewer clicks than worse performers to complete checkout.   

You too, you can make sure you always show the updated order totals at all time to avoid any surprises and remove all the barriers that would complicate the checkout process i.e. minimise the number of pages that need to be loaded and that might lose your customer.

Specifically for Magento, look for Checkout solutions who are rock solid, well coded, secure and compatible with the most popular Payment and Shipping Options. Remember, Checkout is the most critical part of your online business so don’t make any compromises with it!” 

Thien-Lan Weber

Chief Marketing Officer

OneStepCheckout

With cart abandonment at over 70% globally, it’s over 1 trillion dollars lost annually. We now have data and insights available to help mitigate this. Both consumer and merchant studies show that the top reasons for cart abandonment are unexpected costs, speed and form filling complexity. Thankfully, most of it can be addressed with UX design. Merchants with the best checkout conversion offer free shipping, do not require to set up an account and take 50% less time and 50% fewer clicks than worse performers to complete checkout.

Mistake 7 – Lack Of A Brand Identity

It’s rare for a successful business to be built entirely around one product.

It, therefore, makes more sense for you to build a brand rather than pin all your hopes on one product taking off. Sure, there might be the odd rare example where one product has been hugely successful for a business (think Apple or the more local Jimmy’s Iced Coffee!), but it’s far more common to see a brand grow quickly thanks to its clear and unique message.

Nike is known for its shoes of course, but they’ve also spent millions of pounds on developing the ‘swoosh’ logo – something that is now recognised around the world, along with their now iconic tagline ‘Just Do It’.

In our experience as Magento specialists, we’ve seen entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking their product is good enough to sell itself without any effort made into branding or identity. Whatever you’re selling, you need to develop a strong brand that will relate to your audience and be conducive to brand awareness across your target market.

You need to develop a strong brand that will relate to your audience and be conducive to brand awareness across your target market.

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You can use your market research to guide you here, and this should give you a good idea of exactly what kind of brand your audience is craving. Then you just need to be consistent, committed and dedicated to your messaging.

It’s common knowledge that having a strong brand can boost customer loyalty (again look at Apple) as well as increasing the potential for greater audience reach. Try to create something unique and memorable for all the right reasons.

Mistake 8 – Poor Customer Service

We end on one of the biggest issues in modern-day eCommerce – customer service.

This topic covers a wide range of themes and isn’t restricted simply to how you deal with customer complaints for example. It covers how you reply to contact form messages through your store, it’s how you respond to social media comments, it’s how you engage with your customers over the telephone and across email – it really is all-encompassing.

There are some obvious customer service problems to avoid. Slow response times, showing a lack of care and attention to your customer needs, not providing refunds etc – the list goes on. Customers nowadays have high expectations so you’ll need to pull out all the stops to really blow them away.

It’s important for online-only businesses to be accessible at all times and at every stage of the buying process. Customers right at the start of the sales funnel may have a question about your product that needs answering, in the same way, a customer looking for a refund will want a quick response. If you reply in a timely and professional manner, you shouldn’t have any problems here.

Remember that your customers are what makes your business, so you need to look after them! Not only is it much easier to retain and profit from an existing customer, but the likelihood of them sending more business your way is also massively increased when the customer service you provide is excellent. Going the extra mile for your customers won’t go unnoticed.

Summary

The journey to the top might just be starting for your eCommerce business, but if you avoid all the mistakes we’ve listed, you’ll have a decent chance of fighting off the competition and reaching the top spot.

It makes sense to learn from the mistakes of others and avoid the common pitfalls many entrepreneurs experience when first starting out in eCommerce. Use these tips and you’ll steer clear of unexpected costs, time-sucking tasks and ultimately reach the top.

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