In theory, setting up an ecommerce business is easy. After all, in an era where more and more of us are consuming content and making purchases through mobile devices, ecommerce is primed to play a bigger and bigger part of our lives. In the US alone 75% of consumers make regular purchases online. Of those 20% shop online every week while 40% shop online several times a month. In fact, only 2% state that they shop online only once a year. That’s fertile ground upon which to plant the seeds of entrepreneurship, right?
Well, there’s certainly a great deal of opportunity in the world of online retail. But if running an online store were easy or guaranteed to be profitable, pretty much everyone would be doing it. After all, an ecommerce business represents a fraction of the risk and the tiniest percentage of the overheads in comparison to opening up a brick and mortar store (especially a store somewhere with decent foot traffic). Nonetheless, as in any business, the path to success is beset with perils and pitfalls.
Many a wouldbe online entrepreneur has set up an ecommerce business and many have thrown in the towel within a year. If you have a great idea for an ecommerce business but aren’t sure which mines you’ll need to dodge, you’re in luck! We’ve sketched out a map of the minefield for you in order to insulate yourself from risk and lay a solid foundation for success.
Steer clear of these commonly made ecommerce mistakes and you have every chance of building a healthy, successful and profitable business that’s well placed for sustainable growth and long-term viability…
Homepage design and copy that don’t match your product
Design and copy are two very different sides of the same coin and require different skills. Nonetheless, both are informed by your product. The product (or range of products) you offer and the types of people who buy them will play a huge part in determining the content of your site.
For example; let’s say that you run a business that makes organic smoothies. Who will your target market be? People who are health conscious and care about what goes into their bodies. They want simplicity. They want as few ingredients as possible and they want to know that the products they buy are natural both in terms of ingredients and process.
How will this impact upon the design and copy of your homepage? It will likely affect your page layout, your color palette, the kinds of imagery you use and your choice of font. Likewise, the language you use should also be simple, frank and refreshingly to the point.
If, on the other hand, your business makes custom-built gaming PCs simple is the absolute last thing your customers will want. They’ll want rigorous detail and comprehensive spec lists as well as images that give them an up-close and personal view of your products. Your copy will be completely different as will your design. Your challenge will be to convey a lot of highly complex information in a way that is still easy and pleasant for the eye to interpret.
In either case, it behoves you to consider the relationship between design and copy and how they pertain to your product(s). An aesthetic that feels mismatched will create a sense of cognitive dissonance which will repel prospective customers no matter how great your product may be.
Another aspect of website design that all too many ecommerce neophytes neglect is User Experience (UX). While many are keen to ensure that their website looks beautiful and is cohesive with their branding and their product, they are less adept at creating an enjoyable and easy to navigate experience for the user.
Poor UX can reduce conversion rates and send bounce rates soaring. It can impede users from moving easily through your site and, thus, making more purchases. Moreover, it can prevent prospects from ever returning to your site even if you give your UX a massive overhaul in their absence. If you’re to achieve optimal conversions from the outset, you’ll need to make sure that your online store starts off with great UX.
Among your biggest UX considerations should be;
- Creating a great first impression and giving users easy visual access to everything they’re likely to need.
- Selection tools to help them to filter out irrelevant products.
- A system to bring back abandoned cart users (abandoned cart rates are currently at over 60%).
- Quick access to answers / customer service via easy-to-find tabs.
- Fast loading pages (a page with a load time of just 5 seconds can increase your bounce rate by over 30%).
- Fast and easy checkouts.
- Something that ensures the customer still feels valued after the purchase has been made.
A poor CTA
If you have your eyes on the ecommerce sector, you’ve likely heard of a Call To Action (CTA). While these are an important part of UX for any website, they are especially crucial in increasing conversion rates. The right CTAs will subtly influence user behavior without being so pushy as to scare users away. If you’re not convinced of the importance of CTAs, hopefully these statistics will convince you otherwise;
- A CTA on an opt-in email increases clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%.
- A CTA on your business’ Facebook page can increase click-through rate by as much as 285%.
- Over 90% of visitors who read the headline on your content will also read your CTA copy.
When it comes to CTA you must consider both their copy and design. Check out this article by business blogger Neil Patel who promoted the same free ebook with two subtly different CTAs; “Get It Now” and “Grab Yours Today”. The latter had a conversion rate of just under 5% more than the former with 1000 more clicks and almost 500 more submissions.
Neglect the importance of CTAs at your peril!
Choosing tools that don’t account for your growth
Your ecommerce business may be small at first but with luck it will grow in time. You need to be equipped with tools that you can upscale to facilitate easy growth. Start out with tools that are only fitting for very small home businesses and you may find that your growth is inhibited.
For example, when first starting out you may find that Square is a great tool for accepting credit card payments, but as your business prospers and grows in scope Square may no longer be adequate for your needs. You may find luck with some of these Square alternatives and competitors. While your operational budget and the funding you are able to secure will determine the digital tools you select when starting out, you should nonetheless ensure that you try to choose tools that will be able to meet your needs now and 5 years from now.
Pushing your content over your products
Content marketing is an undeniably important part of ecommerce just as it is virtually any other business. Your content is what gives your brand a voice and an identity. It can be something that elevates you above your competitors and keeps your customers coming back to your brand and your website. It can help your customers to create the kind of meaningful relationship with your business that ensures a lifetime of repeat custom. What’s more, it builds social proof for your brand and establishes trust in your business.
Yet, while content is undeniably important, it’s the product that’s the star of the show! By all means have a tab that links to your blog posts, videos, infographics and non-product related images readily available, but don’t let it overshadow what your customers came to you for.
Devoting too much space on your homepage to your content can make your page look too busy and make it harder to find the products they want.
No (or poor) lead capture techniques
Leads are precious commodities that should be captured at every opportunity. For that reason, it’s vital that your store incorporates some sort of lead-capture form on its homepage. This can help to ensure that users who are interested in engaging with your brand but aren’t necessarily ready to make a purchase yet can learn more about what you can offer them. Lead capture forms allow you to stay close to their thoughts when they have need of the products you offer. ,
However, get lead capture forms wrong and they can be distracting if not downright irritating. A good lead capture form should be easy to access but never in the way. It should be short enough so as not to be intimidating, yet long enough to allow you to capture quality data. It should use fields to help you to qualify the strength of the lead so that you know which ones you should follow up on immediately and those who can stand to wait a little while.
Steer clear of those commonly made errors, however, and your ecommerce business can get off to the best possible start and gain some much-needed inside track in an increasingly competitive marketplace.