So you have an awesome, one-of-a-kind product or service that you just can’t wait to share with the world; a seed, in the form of an online business, has been planted in your mind and you’re ready to get going. Buy a URL and let’s sell some goods, you say––but hold on, something to consider is the vast number of ecommerce stores out there. With budding technology and the internet’s accessibility, almost everyone is capable of opening and running an online store, but only a select few run a successful and profitable one.
Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered and will discuss in this post the big mistakes most online outlets commit, leading to a failed business. Familiarize yourself with these common errors and put yourself ahead of the curve––while other entrepreneurs come up short, you and your company will be in the know and on the path to success. Here are 5 reasons ecommerce stores fail.
1. Failure to Properly Staff
One of the most common mistakes among entrepreneurs is the steadfast belief that their business can be built alone. But, as any successful and experienced business person will tell you, having a well-rounded and adequately equipped team that balances one another is vital to a successful company.
As you set up your ecommerce, consider what functionality and attributes you will need for your online store––social media, community outreach, content writing, inventory management, promotional and marketing campaigns, tech help, and such. Would one person be able to handle all of this––and handle it well? If you are able, hire people with specific strengths to manage each component. If funding is tight, prioritize your functions and allocate your hiring budget accordingly.
With your team, where one person’s weakness is should be a fellow member’s strength––that way there are no holes, and you’re getting the best skill set that you can.
2. Poor User Interface
A second major mistake any online store can make is a bad user interface. ‘Bad’ can be defined in a number of ways such as disorganized, confusing navigation and layout, difficult usability, or lack of mobile optimization.
A messy, unorganized website, whether that be the product listings, search results, or the homepage itself, is a major turnoff for visitors. When building and arranging your site, always keep an audience in mind. How does your website look to a newcomer unfamiliar with your products? Does the organization make sense? Is the menu intuitive and all-encompassing with regards to what you’re selling or the services you offer? Investing in a good ecommerce template such as Templatic’s eMarket is an easy solution.
And in this digital era when everyone has smart phones and purchases can be made online via those phones, having a mobile optimized site is absolutely necessary. Imagine the difficulty of shopping if a store’s website is distorted, unreadable, or just plain unattractive––photos are stretched, text runs off the screen, or links are so tiny, there’s no use even attempting to click it, let alone make a purchase. Consider the addition of a mobile-specific interface such as this one achievable through Magento Connect. Having a functioning, attractive, and smart phone-ready online store is key to a successful ecommerce.
3. Lack of Security and Credibility
If you ask anyone what’s the biggest hesitation or possible downside to online shopping, most will answer that it is the risks associated with making payments digitally. Whether it’s credit card fraud and stolen information, spam, headache-inducing customer service, or shoddy products, nothing will prompt your customers to exit your store or swear off your site more than a lack of security and company credibility or a notoriously poor online reputation.
For security and credibility, the two go hand-in-hand. If your ecommerce isn’t secure for your customers, it will not gain credibility or consumer trust––making it less likely that anyone buys from you. Protect your online store from spammers, hackers, and identity thieves by looking into additional layers you can add to your website such as a Security Sockets Layer that encrypts credit card numbers, hiding them from hackers. With a SSL certificate such as this one from Symantec, your ecommerce URL will begin with https––the ‘s’ standing for secure––allowing your customers to shop with peace of mind.
If you find yourself in the latter and your ecommerce has received bad write ups, there are third party services that will repair and rebuild your online reputation. For many reasons––some less legitimate than others––companies receive bad reviews, plummeting their reputation. Groups like Reputation Hacks can help combat and change those negative perceptions in addition to offering protection to your business from future credibility attacks. Investing in a secure online store and building credibility are imperative for success.
4. Lack of Transparency
Though making purchases from a distance through online shopping offers many conveniences such as browsing from the comforts of home and items arriving right at your doorstep, that distance is also a source of frustration, deterrence, and hesitation for many shoppers. A lack of transparency igniting these negative reactions will guarantee failure for your ecommerce.
Two of the most major breaches of transparency from online vendors is inaccessibility and tacked on costs. Having a clear and open line of communication with consumers keeps customers happy, and more likely to buy and return. Therefore, a big mistake is to not post easy-to-spot contact information such as email or phone number or worse, not listing the information at all.
Customers like to be assured that they can ask questions about the product, verify descriptions and details, and request more information. If there is no way to do this, not only is it frustrating and a turnoff for potential buyers, but it also looks unprofessional and as if your company is hiding something––perhaps your products aren’t up to standards and this is why you don’t engage with consumers. Try adding a FAQ section on each products page with this free Flagbit FAQ extension.
Also, the quickest and most frequent reason customers abandon their shopping carts is an unexpected cost that is tacked on after checkout. Many ecommerce sites will not calculate shipping until the item is added to the shopping cart and the consumer’s information, including credit card number, is filled in. However, shipping rates can oftentimes be substantially larger than anticipated and be the root cause of the decision not to process the order. To avoid this, activate a plugin such as Magento’s free shipping estimation one or simply offer a flat rate fee––or even more enticing for your shoppers: free shipping.
5. Lack of Payment Options
Finally, not offering your customers a choice in payment is detrimental to conversion and the success of your online store. As with anything, people like having choices––especially when it comes to how they hand over money and information. Boxing in your consumers by only offering one option is running the risk of losing a pool of potential buyers.
Take for example the rumor about ecommerce giant eBay limiting its payment options to just PayPal. The internet was set abuzz with angry long-time eBay users who were offended that the only way they could make purchases was to create a PayPal account––meaning giving out more information and also adding an extra step in the checkout process. Additional steps toward completing a purchase means giving customers more time to change their mind and abandon their cart; so you want as simple and swift of a checkout as possible with different payment options available. Wisely, eBay never confined their purchase payments to just one method, and, in order to reach as many consumers as possible, you shouldn’t either.
As you prepare to launch your ecommerce store or if you’re just looking to improve an existing one, keep these 5 common mistakes that many online outlets commit in mind to ensure you’re ahead of the pack and setting your company on the path to success.