So, you’ve decided to enter the world of eCommerce? Starting your own online business can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’ll be easy. The process of creating an eCommerce store may have been simplified and streamlined since the early days of the web, but the act of generating a steady income through online sales remains as tough as it ever was.
While the apparent ease of generating profit lures many in, the hard truth is that there’s no easy way to make a success out of your store. Like anything worthwhile, it takes hard work — and in such a competitive market, even the slightest misstep can result in disaster. Worse still, the symptoms of any errors are often easier to spot than the root causes.
Problems can occur at any stage in the customer journey, and it isn’t always easy to resolve them when they do crop up. Below, we’ll dig into 4 of the most common mistakes made by eCommerce store owners, along with pointers on how to fix them.
If your customers do run into any trouble on your site, their first port of call will be your customer service department. The value of maintaining a well-staffed and knowledgeable customer service team cannot be overstated. Many small store owners naively attempt to tackle support themselves, only to quickly discover that their valuable time gets eaten up by the never-ending queries and demands of their customers.
Overall, hiring even just a small squad of customer service experts is far more feasible from a business perspective, even taking into account the ongoing investment of employing salaried workers. But simply having such a team in place is only the first step. You then need to train your support workers properly and give them the backing they need to focus on what really matters for your long-term success: making your customers feel valued.
The key is to make your customers feel valued. For example, if your store serves an international audience, your customers are bound to appreciate the ability to communicate in their native languages. Using third-party software, language barriers can be completely eliminated, allowing your agents to communicate fluently without the years of study typically required. Services like Unbabel can translate emails using a combination of AI and human intelligence. Before being sent to the intended recipient, every message goes through an initial AI translation layer. The message is then forwarded through to a human translator, before finally making its way onto the customer.
Of course, hiring an entire customer service team can get expensive, especially for sellers just starting in the world of eCommerce. If you lack the capital to hire a dedicated team of support agents, a chatbot tool such as Crisp can allow you to automate common customer service interactions, ensuring assistance can be provided at all times. And even if you can employ a support team, having a chatbot can prove particularly useful during periods of high demand or low agent availability. Even though a chatbot will require human intervention for more complicated queries, its ability to deal with the barrage of simple queries a store is likely to face can make it an invaluable asset. Moreover, there are platforms where you can outsource eCommerce customer service to get better service without any big investment.
When was the last time you clicked through to the second page of Google? If it’s a question you’re struggling to answer, this should indicate just how important search engine optimization is for your eCommerce store. If you’re looking to maximize visitors to your site, increase conversions and build brand awareness, SEO should be marked as a top priority in your business strategy.
Without proper optimization, your store is likely to languish at the bottom of Google’s search results, so it’s well worth putting a little time and effort into optimizing your site’s content to prevent this. This SEO journey should begin with researching keywords and terms that your customers are searching for. Ahrefs simplifies this process, providing keyword suggestions and allowing users to analyze ranking difficulty and accurately calculate traffic potential.
In addition to conducting basic keyword and competitor research, you’ll want to develop a backlink profile to develop domain authority (the strength of your website) and draw more traffic. Admittedly, while the bevy of tools available online makes optimizing a store simpler than ever, the process can be a real time-sink (especially for those prone to perfectionism!). If you’d prefer to focus on running the core elements of your business instead, it may be worth considering the use of an SEO agency.
To give your store an edge over the competition, such an agency can create a tailored plan to build you backlinks. Links from trusted websites will help your store build authority, allowing it to gradually move up through Google’s rankings. High-value shows Google’s algorithm that a site is trustworthy and relevant to specific keywords. Guest blog posts paid link inserts and bespoke PR campaigns are all common tools for achieving these results, but be aware that agency fees can often prove pricey, so choose wisely.
Your hard work has paid off and a visitor has decided to make a purchase, but there’s one major roadblock — they’re unsure of how to complete the process. It’s unlikely you’ll gain many conversions if the customer journey from browsing to checkout isn’t optimally simple. Believe it or not, checkout issues are among the main causes of cart abandonment.
Making sure that a shopper doesn’t need to create an account to complete their purchase is the easiest way to minimize checkout abandonment. After all, pushing for someone to create an account can frustrate them and lead them to go elsewhere. The key here is not to oversell: give shoppers the space they need and allow them to complete their purchases on their own terms. If the worst does happen and a shopper decides to abandon their cart, automation software from ActiveCampaign can help. You can set it to contact those who have yet to follow through on their purchases, though bear in mind that the software will require contact information to deliver those messages.
Offering a wide variety of standard payment methods should also serve to encourage customers to commit to their purchases. For added convenience, digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Paypal can provide hassle-free checkout experiences, with customer details being filled in automatically. It’s also worth allowing your customers to spread the cost of their payments. The growing popularity of services such as Klarna shouldn’t be ignored, especially since their very nature often encourages customers to spend more than they would otherwise.
There’s no excuse for a poorly-designed site. Back in the early days of eCommerce, a vendor could be forgiven for running a store with a haphazard layout, amateur-ish design, and clunky navigational elements. This was understandable, as the barriers for entry were far higher; building a website was no mean feat, often requiring the help of a dedicated web developer (or at the very least, a solid understanding of HTML and CSS).
Thankfully, it’s far easier to get a web store up and running nowadays. Yet despite simple editors such as Wix or Squarespace completely democratizing the web design landscape, poorly-constructed e-commerce stores are still surprisingly commonplace. In general, the following rules are worth adhering to:
- Place your products front and center. Unlike those using physical stores, online customers can’t pick products up or try them on, but you can mitigate this issue through the use of high-resolution photography and video. Want to go the extra mile? Deploying an interactive 360-degree viewing plugin can make a big difference.
- Design your site with mobile users in mind. Better yet, create an app. Many web users prefer to browse and shop on their smartphones. Don’t expect to sell your goods to them if your store is poorly optimized for their devices.
- Make navigation simple. Ensure your products are organized logically and your store’s search function works correctly. Shoppers will soon abandon their browsing sessions if they’re unable to locate the products they’re looking for.
If you’re looking for more information on the tools you can use to build your store (with no coding experience necessary), check out our list of 25 web design packages here.
While it can feel daunting to step into the battlegrounds of eCommerce, avoiding these 4 common mistakes should put you in good stead to give your competition a run for their money. Found your store on good, strong foundations, and success is sure to follow!