Ecommerce is a competitive space, with countless online stores, just like yours, eager to get customers to part with their hard-earned dollar. But in the race to the finish line, plenty of ecommerce brands make mistakes that, while small, actually stop them from making sales.
Here I identify five little mistakes that are limiting your sales — and how to fix them.
Having a long, complicated payment process
No-one likes parting with their hard-earned cash, even for a product they want or need. So when your customer is actually entering their card details to pay for your product, it’s important that you make the process as smooth as possible.
If your payment process takes too long, you risk your customer changing their mind halfway through. Similarly, if it is too complicated, they might decide that it’s not worth the bother and abandon their purchase.
A lengthy or complicated payment process is one of the top ten reasons why customers abandon a purchase. It’s a small step, but a vital one, and well worth optimising in 2019.
Takeaway tip: keep your payment process as short as possible, with the least resistance. Keep card detail entry fields on a single page, and make it clear what fields your customer needs to complete in order to pay.
Finally, run tests regularly to ensure there are no blockages in the process. It doesn’t need to be complex — this could be as simple as ordering something yourself.
Not going the extra mile with your mobile optimisation
For many of you reading this, not optimising your store for mobile might seem like an obvious mistake. And yet, time and again, I see dozens of ecommerce websites that fail to meet this basic requirement.
We are living in a mobile-first age, with 79% of smartphone users ordering something on their phone online in the last six months alone. But this is about being more than mobile-optimised — it’s about being ambitious with how you deliver your ecommerce store’s mobile UX.
Go beyond simply providing a responsive theme that suits a smaller screen. Implement double-tapping and pinching features to let customers zoom in on product photos, and let customers save their cart so they can pick it up later.
And if you can build a mobile app for your ecommerce store, that’s even better — but just make sure you plan ahead and get it right. There’s no point pouring money into app development if you’re going in blind.
Takeaway tip: the key to great mobile UX? Be intelligent: auto-suggestions, address lookups, automatic field error notifications — in short, automate everything for an intelligent purchase process.
Craft your interface to suit how customers actually use their phone. Creating user-oriented mobile UX can be time-consuming. But by adapting your online store to suit how customers actually use their devices, you keep them onsite and, as a result, increase conversions.
Not working on your E-A-T metrics
While you might not recognise the acronym, you’ll probably know the concept. E-A-T stands for: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It refers to the key factors that Google uses to rank websites — including yours, and an ecommerce store that isn’t ranking is one that isn’t making sales. Let’s break E-A-T down:
For ecommerce brands, displaying expertise means building a reputation. This is achievable through actively engaging with your industry. For example, if you sell tech and gadgets, guest post on reliable electronics news websites, or send out product freebies to review sites to generate backlinks.
It gets a little trickier for ecommerce brands to prove authority. An authoritative online store is one that owns its products, e.g. Rolex produces its own watches, so Rolex is an authority on its product.
So if you’re not selling your own products, you’d need to make clear that you are an approved merchant for those products. As an example, if you’re selling Adidas trainers, include a link in their brand logo on your site to an Adidas approved-seller page.
As the name suggests, trustworthiness is (partly) about social proof. Cultivating strong user ratings for your store, both onsite and on reviews sites like Trustpilot, shows Google that you store can be trusted.
Trustworthiness also relates to security too. Ensure your checkout page, in particular, is HTTPS-secured, and that you have an up-to-date SSL certificate for your store. Finally, avoid any features that could be construed as deceptive, e.g. underneath an email address field, let customers know if they are signing up to your newsletter, giving them the option to exempt themselves if required.
Takeaway tip: take the time to build your E-A-T metrics. Guest post to boost expertise and build authoritative backlinks, and encourage social proof and bulk up your security. E-A-T for ecommerce can get complex, so click here for a handy guide on how to nail it.
Having a cluttered or noisy website
As the old saying goes, a tidy house is a tidy mind, and that’s as true for your ecommerce website as it is for your home. A cluttered homepage or messy product page will put off prospective sales in a flash.
With online store design, less is more. It’s not a passing trend either — it’s a good rule of thumb that helps create a beautiful ecommerce website that customers will want to visit.
When you’re designing your online store, it’s helpful to paraphrase Marie Kondo and ask yourself: does it bring your customers joy? If it doesn’t serve a function or serves a purpose that is already adequately met, then it’s probably time to ditch it.
Takeaway tip: your homepage should include no more than two high-quality hero images (and I mean high-quality). But you don’t need to hire a photographer to get excellent photos — there are plenty of royalty-free images available online that are unique and high-quality that you can use.
Your category pages and calls-to-action should also be clearly identifiable, and your product pages should be sleek and minimalist. Ditch wordy description copy and highlight key product information so it stands out. Strive to make your ecommerce store visually-pleasing, and your customers will return to your store time and again.
Not showing your customers how you’re different
Ecommerce is a competitive industry. Between scalable ecommerce platforms, affordable marketing tools, and a huge number of educational resources available online, online store ownership has a low barrier to entry like no other industry. You need only look at the wide assortment of ecommerce businesses to see how common (if not necessarily easy) it is to build a valuable online store.
Consequently, customers have plenty of choice when they’re shopping online. Competitive prices, better customer service, and unique brands are all at consumers’ fingertips. So with this sheer variety of choice, why should they shop with you?
The answer: your unique selling proposition. Your USP is what sets you apart from your competitors, giving your customers a reason to shop with you beyond products and prices.
A good USP is hard to pin down. When the industry is so saturated, it can feel as though there’s nothing new under the sun. But take the time to work on it, and you’ll break new ground that sets your brand apart from the crowd.
Takeaway tip: your USP should permeate every aspect of your ecommerce venture, from your website design and marketing right down to your branding.
The best place to start is with competitor research, seeing what your rivals are doing to understand why you’re better. Next, look at your customers. Evaluate their pain points and concerns, and identify what they look for in a brand.
Even the biggest ecommerce brands are guilty of making the mistakes outlined here. Follow the tips above, and you’ll give your sales a boost in no time.