In 2016, there will be over $1tn spent on online retail purchases, according to the 2015 Global Retail E-Commerce Index. But with millions of online stores competing for their share, businesses can’t afford to make ecommerce mistakes.
It’s an attractive prospect – setting up an online shop and accessing an audience of potential customers across the world without the requirement for a physical presence at all if you don’t want one. But for every successful online shop you’ll see, you can undoubtedly find many more failing.
Let’s assume for a second that you have a great offering and something to set you aside from your competition. From there, it’s all about your website and your marketing.
It’s here that simple ecommerce mistakes still cripple online stores, particularly smaller ones dependent upon online revenues solely.
Picking the wrong platform
In the vast majority of cases, it’s entirely unnecessary to have a bespoke ecommerce platform developed from scratch. There are so many systems and platforms already out there on the market. Picking the right out at the outset is absolutely critical. That’s not to say it’s impossible to switch later, but it could prove something of headache to migrate.
When you come to look for a platform, consider:
- Costs (of course) weighed up against your budget
- Flexibility of the system. How much control do you have over the look and feel of your site? How easily can you change offers, discounts and sales? Can you change key messaging on your homepage and update product descriptions quickly and easily?
- Is the platform mobile friendly?
- How does the platform perform from an SEO point of view?
- How fast is the platform?
Getting this decision right will make your opening year much easier.
No marketing plan
Despite the fact there are over a billion websites online, there are still online shops with no marketing plan behind them and a mentality of “build it and they will come”.
It simply is not the case online. Whether you plan to leverage SEO, PPC, banner advertising, social media, word of mouth or any other channels, do have a plan in mind.
Plan your marketing in advance. If you don’t have budgets for the professionals or for expensive paid campaigns, take a look at some of these resources on SEO and social media:
A 2006 Amazon report concluded that the company suffered a one per cent loss in sales for a 100 milliseconds delay in a page loading. That’s significant. And as websites becomes more advanced, users’ expectations get higher and higher.
You’ll often need a developer to fix problems like these, so again it does help to pick the right platform from the outset. A fast platform will be the basis of ensuring a fast website.
Some websites are still not mobile ready
Around a third of online purchases are now taking place on mobile devices, yet a surprising number of online stores are not mobile ready.
Ecommerce mistakes like failing your mobile users could cost you a huge proportion of your website sales.
What you need a consistently simple, fast experience for users across mobiles, tablets and desktops. Responsive web design is typically the favoured option here.
Again, this is often determined by your chosen platform.
Not managing your online reputation
Someone getting upset with your service or products online can impact your reputation notably. With review sites all over the place, it’s really common for a brand search (i.e. someone searching your company name in Google) to return your site, one or two of your social profiles and then review sites. People researching your brand can be hugely put off because of poor reviews.
Over half of sales don’t take place on the first interaction. It’s commonplace for users to research your brand first if they’ve never heard of you before, so poor reviews and angry customers showing up for your brand searches can have a disastrous impact.
Make sure you incentivise your happy customers to leave reviews on the big sites, AND some review sites allow business owners to sign up to resolve disputes before one sided reviews are published.
Failing to measure
The very basic Google Analytics free package will offer a number of insights, including:
- Where your traffic came from
- Which pages or pieces of content on your site visitors looked at
- Which countries and cities your visitors are from
- Which devices your visitors are using
A huge number of businesses leave it at this though. Within the free package, you can set up ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics to enable reporting on which visitors bought items, what they bought and what they spent etc.
This is one level deeper in terms of data and helps you to assess what marketing activities are generating revenue.
If you have a small budget, a tool like Hotjar can show you even more data, like video playbacks of user sessions highlighting where they clicked and what they looked at on your site.
Only by measuring can you really assess what marketing activities and products are working for you and make a data driven decision about the next steps, and avoid those costly ecommerce mistakes.
Kevin Jones is the founder of Shopblocks.com, a hosted ecommerce platform.
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