Top 5 e-commerce mistakes

Nowadays everyone can practically create their own E-Commerce website in a matter of hours, even with no technical knowledge, no business experience and even… no inventory. However no matter how novice you are, there are a few mistakes that can cost you your sales, and can be spared with some minimal attention:


You sell a product that is practically impossible to find on the site, does not show up on any reasonable search result and is buried in page 39 of your catalog? Don’t be surprised no one’s buying. Sure, it is smart to promote your top products (best-selling, most profitable, best looking, etc.) to the top, but don’t ignore the one at the back of the shelf. Make sure every product can be found, especially if someone specifically comes searching for it.

2. Selling Ice to Eskimos

Or baby products to teenagers, or Sprint phone plans to Indonesia’s elderly population? Check who actually visits your site, what countries they are coming from and how they find your site. Google Analytics is a good (and must) place to start, but there’s a lot more you can do to find out about your visitors’ demography and behavior. Start even by looking at your internal search – if your top searched term is not a product you carry, you probably should consider adding it. If there’s a big discrepancy between your visitors and your target audience or your technical capabilities (you have mainly international visitors but you can’t ship internationally, for example), you should consider alternative online marketing methods to reach those who would actually buy (or start selling what your visitors want).

3. Transaction Failed (UnknownException).

You spent weeks designing a great site, creating the ultimate product descriptions and advertising online, and finally people start adding items to the cart and checking out, but wait… why are my numbers so low? You have to absolutely, completely, make 100% sure, that when customers actually decide to buy – they are successful in doing so (as long as they actually have a valid payment method, of course). Rejecting a credit card because of a misplaced ‘-‘, or a badly formatted expiration date (and not explaining that to the customer) is a proven way to lose the sale. Make sure your payment form is fool-proof, there are clear instructions and error messages and if something does go wrong they customer knows who to contact. And its needless to say – TEST, TEST, TEST and TEST again your checkout flow, with various payment methods, products, and if needed – from different countries.

4. Be Unreachable.

In online commerce, unlike stepping into a store, the customer is almost always accompanied by a constant fear that something may go wrong, the product will not ship, will be DOA, or that the seller is not legit (or there’s even no seller altogether). Building trust and confidence should be done across your site anyways, but the number-one factor for establishing trust is knowing that there’s a person at the other end who will respond. Put your customer service phone number or email address in a prominent location on the site, and make it easy for potential customer to reach you. In addition, a customer frustrated by bad service is much more likely to return your product (or even worse, report you to the credit card company) and is much less likely to recommend you to their friends.

5. Not Following Up.

You are spending all that time and money on acquiring new customers, but have you forgot the ones you already have? It is many times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to get an existing customer buy again. Think about it – someone already knows who you are, wanted something that you have (and hopefully is happy with it), and trusts you – I bet you that at some point in the next year you’ll have at least one other product or service they may be able to use. Keep up with your past customers, build a relationship, remind them that you’re there and tell them what’s new. Give them special treats and offers, and ask for referrals (if appropriate). Sending an email-a-month does not have any downside and will not impact your business, but is very likely to have a significant upside.

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