E-commerce is a growing industry and is highly competitive. To beat the competition and help your position in the online sales markets, it is important to avoid the common mistakes that are so easy to ignore.
The following mistakes that should be avoided are:
1. Poor Web Presence
We are all aware of the proverb “The First Impression Is the Last Impression”. This is true for an online business too. The web presence of your site should reflect professionalism and it should be able to create a positive impact in the customers’ decision of buying products or services from your online store.
2. Wrong Keywords Targeted
Keyword Research is one of the important criteria to make your site rank well in the search engines. The overall architecture of your site (Homepage, Category Pages, Product Pages) should be keyword optimised to make it more searchable.
- The homepage can be optimised with the broad keywords that describe the overall site. E.g. If your site is about clothing and homeware products the keywords can be Men’s Clothing, Women’s Clothing, Homeware.
- The Category pages are important landing pages and can be optimised with the long-tail keywords that have higher conversion rates. You should optimise the title tag, the category names and the description meta tag to ensure the site ranks well in the search engine. E.g. websites targeting “Party dresses for women” would have a higher conversion rate than those targeting the short-tail keyword “Party Dresses” or “Dresses”.
- The content in the product pages should also be optimised with keywords to get more clicks from the users. For more effective results, the product pages can target the keywords that are used by the competitors, the search phrases used by the shoppers and the keywords that both marketing and the salesforce use.
3. Poor search functionality
Customers use the search box when they can’t find a product they are looking for when navigating through the site. You should optimise the functionality of the internal site search in a way that it can return better results for the search phrases. The internal site search is not only an effective tool of helping the customers to find their product search but also a way of increasing the sales which further helps in increasing conversions.
4. Complicated Ordering Process
Some of the e-commerce sites create an obstacle by forcing visitors to complete the registration process before they can place an order. It’s a good idea to allow your visitors to complete the check-out process without the hassle of registration. On completion of the successful transaction, you can give the option to your customers to save their details to place their future orders easily or can track the status of their current order.
5. Long Checkout Process
The checkout process is the last step left for the customer to complete the transaction. This process should be easy, simple and should include a minimal number of steps. This is because the more options you include between placing an item in the cart and the actually payment, the more chance the customer can leave the site.
6. Delayed Confirmation Email
Once the customer has successfully placed an order, they should receive a confirmation email which summarises the products purchased, price, delivery date and address details without any delay. This is because any kind of delay will leave them in darkness about their transaction which will further hamper the business reputation. Ensure that you instill confidence in your customer by thanking them for the order, and alerting them that it is being processed straight away. We all know about ‘Buyers remorse’. Reduce the chance of this happening on your website too.
7. Poor Transaction Process
The overall transaction process should be simple and should allow the customer to complete the transaction without any hassle. This can be done by highlighting the required fields to help the customer complete the transaction in easy steps. A small note defining the individual field and the type of data customers should fill in makes the transaction a lot easier. For e.g. if you are in UK and you have decided to send gifts to India, the postcode format should be made flexible as it is different for these two countries.
8. Poor Delivery Structure
One of the key reasons customers leave your site is when they don’t find any information about your standard delivery dates and times and also when the delivery time is longer than normally expected. Assess the quickest turnaround from purchase to delivery for happy customers who will buy again from you.
9. No videos
Another important thing that most e-commerce sites lack is video content. The visual presentation gives the customers a clear idea about the usability of the product and can help sell it by showing how the product can be used in different ways. A short video about the product helps to connect better with the customers and everyone loves video. Further it helps:
- in better merchandising.
- to increase the sales.
- to achieve higher customer satisfaction rates.
- to engage your customers more.
10. No Breadcrumbs
The site ‘breadcrumb’ navigation shouldn’t be a complex one. The navigation path should be defined to help the customers know which category they are presently in. For e.g. if the customer is looking for “Dresses”, the breadcrumb navigation path should be ‘Home > Women > Dresses’. So if the customer is in the Dresses page, they can easily go back to the Home Page or to the Women category.
11. Not tagging similar products
The success mantra for any e-commerce site depends on how well you could engage your customers. By tagging similar products, you are not only engaging your customers but also increasing the visibility of the products which further helps in improving the sales and this is ideal for Upselling or cross selling your products or services. A good example would be ‘Customers who bought this product, also bought ‘XXX’ as seen on popular ecommerce sites like Amazon.
13. Lack of Browser Compatibility
The site should be designed in a way that it is compatible in all browsers. Lack of browser compatibility hampers the site’s performance which further hampers the overall sales.
14. No Site Map
Site Maps are important to help the visitors understand the structure and the architecture of the site so they can easily find out what they are looking for. Apart from the visitors, the site map tells the search engines’ robotic visitors or crawlers which pages to crawl (as it not always possible for them to index all the pages that are buried deep inside the search engine directory).
15. Poor internal site structure:
The internal link structure or the navigational structure should be designed properly for maximising benefits from the e-commerce sites.
- The anchor text links (categories or the sub categories) should be simple, meaningful and should link to the right categories or subcategories.
- The internal links should not be a dangling link that points nowhere.
- The internal links should not have any broken links or shouldn’t point to error pages like 404 or ‘Not Found’.
- The important pages should be easily accessed and shouldn’t be buried as deep links.
- The link categorisation should be done properly to help the users navigate easily in the site.
16. Poor Customer Service
Lack of good customer service is another reason why customers will leave your site. To avoid any kind of dissatisfaction from the customers, the site should have clear information about whom to refer if they have a technical question, sales question or they want to return an item. Some sites have a ‘FAQ’ that covers the most common questions that a customer might have. Sometimes a callback to the customer also helps to build a better relationship with the customer even if you have not managed to provide a 100% positive service.
17. No Product Reviews
Product Reviews is another important thing that most e-commerce sites lack. They are real product feedback that not only help the customers to select the right product, but also guide you for future product development. Not only that:
- The reviews help to build trust which is important for any customer to make decision whether they are interested in buying the product.
- The time of the product reviews are important as most visitors are interested in reading the recent reviews over the old ones.
- The quantity and the quality of the product reviews are important for the customers to make a purchase decision. So the more reviews, the better it is.
Negative reviews are also important as they can help the customer decide whether the product will fulfil their need or not. Sometimes people might want to read only negative reviews as they want to know about the disadvantages of the product or service not mentioned by the provider.
18.Taking the final step wrong
The final biggest mistake is not identifying the right e-commerce solution and not implementing it properly in your site. Some of the e-commerce solutions that can be used are Oscommerce, Magneto, Zen Cart, WorldPay Integration.