One of the main reasons e-commerce works is the ease in which consumers can find what they want and how simple it is for them to buy it. When setting up your online shop, the last thing you want to do is make what should be a smooth process more complicated or unappealing.
The rule of thumb is, don’t ask anything of your online customers that you wouldn’t ask of buyers on the high street. If you want your customers to want your products, you’ll want to make sure you’re avoiding making these common e-commerce mistakes.
1. Unreachable Customer Service
Sure, you want your online shop to do most of the work for you, but in return you should ensure you are visibly available to customers incase they have any questions or comments. Not providing your customers with a way in which to contact you is a sure fire way to raise suspicion of your site.
Don’t be shy about who you are and how a customer can get in touch if they need to. Customers can be understandably wary of faceless businesses, so make sure you introduce yourself and let them know you’re there to help if they need it. If you’re not keen on displaying an email address, place a contact form on your site, or at the very least provide links to your active social media channels, like Facebook or Twitter.
As for your business’ bricks and mortar address, not only does including this on your site build trust in your business, but it’s a legal requirement for those undertaking distance selling in the UK. And, no, a PO Box doesn’t count.
2. Poor Product Photos
Product images can make or break an online shop, regardless of what’s on sale. Not only does poor product photography reflect badly on the goods you’ve lovingly crafted or acquired but it makes your whole site feel amateurish. You might have the smartest web design on the planet, but filling it with blurry, poorly-lit and badly-cropped product photos will ensure that visitors steer clear of your checkout.
Remember that these photos are the closest your potential customers can get to touching and experiencing the things they’re anticipating buying, so you want them to showcase your products in the best possible light.
3. Lack of Product Details
So you’ve got your products looking perfect on your site – great stuff, but that’s only half the story. A picture may speak a thousand words, but you should add a few more to give your customers everything they need to make their purchase decision. Depending on the product, they’ll want to see sizes, dimensions, colour options, washing instructions and the like. Don’t hide this simple info in a descriptive paragraph, either. Be sure to list it clearly so the customer can see at a glance what they’re getting.
Near this, add a product description – a brief, informative and well-written summation of what the product is and why your customer should buy it. Coupled with a great picture and brief product details, this will lead them naturally on to the next step, the checkout.
4. Forcing the Customer to Register for an Account
Forcing new customers to create an account when they check out is like putting a market researcher at the till of a high street shop – clipboard and pen in hand. The online shopping process should take as little time as possible, so why add another barrier between your customer and their purchase?
Also consider the fact that when they return they’ll need to dig their login out of their memory or fish through their old emails to find the password, adding yet another unnecessary obstacle between you and their repeat order.
Give them the choice to make an account or not, and make the benefits for them clear – special offers, exclusive deals, ease of re-ordering with stored details, ability to track their order are all great value-adds to encourage the customer.
5. Hidden or Complicated Shipping Costs and Delivery Information
Online shopping might not be burdened with the real-life hassle of queues and travelling to the shop, but it does have its own foibles that need careful consideration to avoid the customer abandoning their shopping cart out of frustration. One such bugbear is shipping costs and delivery information, these should be accessible at any point and clear as day to read.
No-one likes thinking they’re getting a bargain, going through the checkout process and then seeing an unexpectedly large shipping fee whacked onto their bill at the end. Avoid this by publishing your shipping costs and delivery information on a dedicated page and linking to it from your site’s main menu or footer, as well as making it visible during the checkout process.
Where possible, consider including the domestic shipping cost in the price of the product. It may raise the product price a little but you’ll be able to stamp ‘Free Shipping to the UK’ on your home page and get more potential customers into your shop with the promise of hassle-free delivery.
6. Complicated Returns Policy, Or Worse, None At All
These days online shoppers are a wise bunch. If this is their first time shopping with you, they’ll want to check out not only the shipping costs and delivery info mentioned above, but also your returns policy. Knowing if they can return an item easily, what the cost is and if they’ll have to return it to a store are all important parts of the customer’s purchasing decision.
Making a clear and concise returns policy easily available to your site visitors is important if you want your customers to have faith in your business.
You should also consider placing your refund policy on the same page as your shipping costs and delivery information, so your customer can get their hit of shop trustworthiness in one place before making their purchase in confidence.
It’s important to remember that although these mistakes are common, they’re not the be all and end all of e-commerce pitfalls. Even with the above errors avoided, you should be sure to check your site statistics regularly to see what’s working and what’s not. Don’t be afraid to try out different approaches, within reason, and perform user testing to perfect the shopping experience for your customers.
Today’s Micro Action
Take a close look at your online store and assess how it compares to these six common mistakes. Is there anything you need to change to drive up your store’s conversion rates?