Top 5 eCommerce Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

by David Landriault (6-28-14)

Unless you have been off the planet for 10 years you know that eCommerce is growing rapidly.

Unless you have been off the planet for 10 years you know that eCommerce is growing rapidly. Despite this, I see common mistakes in eCommerce, even among some of the major sites. Here are the top 5 and how you can avoid them.


Building an eCommerce site that customers will use is a lot of hard work and effort. There is a lot to consider when designing your site including human behavior, everyday habits, usability, site security, and architecture. So enough with the introduction lets get started improving your bottom line.

1) Sites That Look Untrustworthy: If you ignore this area you may find that your beautiful eCommerce site will not get many purchases if any at all. Remember that you are likely to be competing against people like Amazon who have tons of credibility and brand recognition. Your site may be a person first exposure to your company so you need to make sure that it takes a customer-focused approach and put yourself in the mind of your customers. What are their concerns? They are likely concerned with the security of your site, whether their information is safe with you and what recourse they have if they are unhappy with your product or service. So how do we combat this? One reliable way is through customer testimonials. If you are lucky enough to have a famous customer then, by all means, try to get a testimonial from them. If you don’t then choose a customer that represents one of your ideal customers that addresses these common concerns. Another way to combat these fears is by adding any positive press that you have received. An article or quote from a legitimate and easily recognizable member of the press will go a long way towards easing customer’s fears and spur them to take a leap of faith.


2) Poor or Substandard Site Design: The first thing that a potential customer sees is your website’s design. If your design looks substandard, they will assume that the site is not safe either. While many eCommerce sites are designed this way and are perfectly safe, they still cost themselves a ton of sales by giving the impression that they are not legitimate. You don’t have long to make an impact either. Within seconds of visiting your site, a person will subconsciously assess your navigational structure, copy, products, images, and testimonials and judge the quality of your site. For that reason, you need to make sure that our site loads within 2 seconds. Any longer than this and they will start to doubt the legitimacy of your site. If they believe your site is not professionally designed they will pass on purchases and move on to a competitor. The need for a good design goes deeper, however. You have to make sure that the site’s purpose is obvious. This involves making sure that everything is easy to find and there are clear calls to action on each page. To assess this look at every page of your website and ask yourself “What is the purpose of this page?” If there is no purpose, then you should get rid of that page or redesign it to give it a clear reason for existing. Once you have decided why the page exists then look to see if there is a clear call to action for your message. If not then you need to redesign your site so that it is crystal clear. You also want to have a search feature on larger sites to make sure they can find what they are looking for on your site. Once your site is easy to use you will find that you will get more purchases and better recommendations from customers who will be on average happier with their purchases.


3) Creating Obstacles for Customers to Purchase: We talked about making the site easy to use but there is more to it than just making the site load quickly and making navigation easy to navigate. You want to make it easy to purchase from you. Many companies make it very difficult for a customer to browse their site. Take for example one of the largest companies in the US, Wal-Mart. For their first two years online they make it very difficult for a customer to browse the site because they required a visitor to create an account including a user id, a password, and other information just to put something in their virtual shopping cart. You should not put obstacles up to stop customers from their natural shopping “flow” by trying to rush them to purchase. If you do they will leave and you will lose money, perhaps not the millions that Wal-Mart lost but still the percentages will be considerable. Remember that you want to lure the customer in slowly and let them make the purchase when they are ready. It is a lot like dating, if you try to force a commitment on the first date you will not get very far. Also, make the purchasing process as easy as you possibly can. Don’t make people jump through hoops just let them find their own pace and you will find that the process is much more enjoyable for them and profitable for you.


4) Lack of Detailed Product Information and Images: Shopping online is a unique experience. In many ways, it is superior because you can avoid crowds, shop several stores in minutes, search for the best bargain, and much more. There are some disadvantages for the customer and the seller, however. In a brick-and-mortar store, the customer can pick up an item and look at it from every angle. You can feel how substantial it is and make sure that it is not a cheap knockoff or fake. Online all you have is a product description and images of the product to go on. Because of this, you need to provide clear pictures of the product from all angles and also include as much product information as you can to allow your potential customers to get to know the product. Don’t overwhelm them with technical jargon. Using descriptive words can have a much greater effect on the consumer. Just imagine that you were explaining the details of a product to a customer in person and use similar language.


5) A Substandard Shopping Cart: Your shopping cart should not be an afterthought, but unfortunately it is for many eCommerce businesses. This may be the biggest mistake of all because the right cart is  crucial to your success. Many carts are abandoned before purchase, and this is typically the top reason. Often carts don’t allow users to add multiple products, revise the number of items, change colors or other options, view shipping charges, return to their last page, etc. There’s no reason for this if you purchase a high-quality cart from a reputable company or designer. If you can, buy a mini-cart that never requires the user to leave the page where they are shopping. This is the best way to keep them on track to purchase an item. Also, make sure that your cart allows as many options as is practical for payment. eCommerce sites should be using a payment service that lets customers pay with each major credit card. This will not only make customers happier but will also expand your customer base considerably.




Despite the five mistakes above the biggest mistake you could possibly make is missing out on eCommerce altogether. Consumers spent over $210 billion online in 2013, and that number is multiplying every year and will continue to do so. Some may think that only companies like Amazon can succeed in this space, but this is not true. Small companies take advantage of this market every day, and your company could be one of them. eCommerce is the future of commerce, and if you plan on being around in the foreseeable future, you need to take advantage of this massive source of additional revenue. If you don’t, your competitors definitely will if they haven’t already. It’s easier than you think to get started with eCommerce. All you need is a great designer and some products to sell, and you are on your way. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from improving your companies bottom line. Get started with eCommerce right away!

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