The world of eCommerce has become increasingly more competitive as customer preferences have entirely changed the digital landscape.
The competitive nature of eCommerce is multifaceted: Not only are you striving to beat your competition, but you’re also fighting to keep your shoppers’ interest. 68% of customers will end up abandoning their shopping carts. The responsibility falls on eCommerce merchants to prevent people from leaving before they check out, while also devising a strategy to win back customers that have abandoned their carts.
So, let’s look into some of the most lethal mistakes eCommerce merchants make, and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Not Being Clear About Your Shipping Costs
“Surprise” shipping costs are one of the easiest ways to lose your shoppers and are ranked as the highest source of cart abandonment. When it comes to your website’s availability to convert shoppers through the checkout process, shipping, and any other relevant cost information, must be stated as early on as possible.
Not being clear about your shipping costs will only hurt your conversion rate. Roughly 28% will abandon their shopping cart if they’re surprised with unexpected shipping costs. This means you’re losing one out of every four shoppers on your site just because you weren’t clear about your shipping costs.
Keep in mind how buyers psychologically operate. They consider the product, whether they like how it looks, how will it fit, how much does it cost, and is it worth it. By the time a shopper places an item in their cart, they’ve not only thought of multiple different reasons they should and shouldn’t buy, but they’ve also likely shopped around for alternatives.
Over time, a feeling of fatigue develops. Each new decision doesn’t receive as much thought or merely is more challenging to make. When a new variable comes into play, like a $7.99 shipping cost, many shoppers will either take a break from shopping, because the decision is stressing them out, or will just abandon the search altogether.
This is why it’s imperative to be clear about your shipping policies on every relevant touchpoint—meaning your product pages and even your website header. If you offer free shipping, you’re missing out on the vast potential of attracting shoppers if you’re not advertising it on your site as well.
Paying for shipping is not a novel idea, and shoppers understand that. Sure, if you advertise your shipping costs, you might lose a shopper or two at the beginning of the funnel, but you will ultimately boost your conversion rate since they wouldn’t convert anyway.
2. Not Optimizing for Mobile
Mobile shopping is expected to reach 27% of all online shopping by the end of 2018, yet many merchants have sites that are ill-equipped for mobile shoppers. The numbers behind mobile shopping’s growth are staggering. By the end of 2017, over 2 billion global mobile phone users will have made some form of mobile transaction, up from 1.6 billion this year.
Merchants using platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce don’t have to worry as much about this since many of the templates offered are mobile-responsive. The cause for concern is merchants that are using custom solutions that look great on desktop, but which just don’t cut mobile. This is why it’s important to understand how your store looks on every size screen, and that it is built to be mobile responsive.
Many merchants are aware of and understand the growth of mobile but, for some reason, they just don’t act on it. As mobile continues to grow and shoppers continue to utilize multiple devices to make a purchase, merchants that fail to optimize for mobile will be left in the dust trailing behind mobile-friendly competitors.
3. Not Having Enough Payment Options
Payment options play an obvious role in your checkout process: If a customer can’t give you money, you won’t make a sale. This seems like a somewhat silly reason to lose a customer, especially after you’ve worked so hard to perfect every other detail of your checkout process and marketing efforts.
There is no shortage of different payment options, and the more you have, the higher chance you will have of making the sale. For starters, you can’t go wrong with all major credit cards, PayPal, and Google Wallet. There are even some eCommerce sites that welcome BitCoin and other cryptocurrency payments as well!
An issue that arises from having multiple payment options is that merchants might end up creating several CTAs such as “Checkout with PayPal, Buy with Google Wallet, etc.” Simple design tweaks such as a drop-down menu during the checkout process can offer your users the same flexibility in a seamless and clean manner.
4. Having a Chunky Checkout Process
Shoppers in the digital age have a penchant for instant gratification. This means that once your shoppers have made their decision, they want to flow through your checkout process seamlessly. View each additional step or visual distraction in your checkout process as an obstacle that the buyer has to maneuver around. Any friction means potentially losing a sale, and each bit must be removed wherever appropriate.
Creating a perfect checkout process comes with ruthless experimentation and data analysis. Understanding how your shoppers interact with your checkout process is must-know knowledge for any eCommerce merchant.
Everyone in the eCommerce world is, by default, competing with giants such as Amazon.com, which are capable of spending billions of dollars a year just to test and refine their checkout processes. Merchants who fail to optimize their checkout will end up having their market swept up from under them.
5. Using Manufacturer Product Descriptions
A huge problem that runs rampant in the eCommerce space is that many merchants are using the same product descriptions that come from the manufacturer. This means that thousands of merchants are selling the same products, using the same pictures, with the corresponding descriptions, at likely the same prices.
While this may work for some, it’s no way to build a brand. Product descriptions are your opportunity to let your brand’s voice flow and capture the shopper’s interest and imagination. As more and more merchants realize the importance of having high-quality product descriptions, whether purely for the benefit of ranking higher in search engines or increasing conversion rates, merchants that fail to do so will be forced to compete solely on price on goods that look commoditized.
Additionally, using product descriptions from the manufacturer can create SEO trouble for you down the line. Manufacturer product descriptions will not only give you any SEO points, but they could also get you penalized for using duplicate content.
6. Unclear Value Proposition
Your value proposition is the number-one thing that helps a consumer understand whether or not they should purchase something from you. This is an opportunity to communicate both your product’s value and your brand’s value.
A value proposition is a concise, clear statement that:
Delivers specific benefits in a way that allows shoppers to quantify the value of your product.
Tells your ideal customer why they should purchase something from you and not from your competition.
Explains how your product will solve your shoppers’ problems.
It’s critical that your value proposition is written in a language that is natural to your shoppers. It should feel like an organic extension of the conversation already going on in your shoppers’ heads. It’s tough to stumble into a perfect value proposition voice; however, with some practice and research, it becomes much more attainable.
For example, merchants will often browse and communicate with other people on forums such as Reddit that are specific to their industry. Even if you are interested in your products yourself, assume that there are multiple angles and perspectives that must be accounted for.
7. Using Lackluster Images
A few years ago, using manufacturer images and lackluster product pictures barely passed. Today, merchants are taking every opportunity possible to differentiate themselves and create a more attractive and appealing website for their customers.
Many sites are investing into professional photography and product videos because they work very well. Humans are visual creatures, and they want to see what they are buying. The better your images can capture the essence of your products and answer your shoppers’ questions, the more likely your shoppers will be to make a purchase.
Additionally, shoppers who have a better understanding of what the product looks like and how it functions will be less likely to have a reason to return it in the future. This means that investing in high-quality images will not only boost sales but will decrease the number of returns and logistical headaches you would otherwise have to deal with.
8. Not Using Dynamic Retargeting
Dynamic retargeting is an extremely efficient way to deliver relevant ads to your customers. One of the biggest mistakes eCommerce merchants make is not utilizing retargeting ads—because not doing so simply just leaves too much value on the table.
Retargeting is an ad strategy that allows merchants to target shoppers that were previously on a specific part of your site. For example, if a shopper were looking at your “Nike Elite Socks” product page, a retargeting ad would show up on Facebook, or elsewhere, reminding them of the product.
There are a few big reasons failing to use dynamic retargeting ads could be ruining your eCommerce site:
First of all, not using retargeting ads means all your money and effort spent on raising awareness and customer acquisition goes to waste when a shopper leaves. This keeps your advertising and marketing costs high, which eats into your profit margins.
Online shoppers frequently abandon their searches simply because there are too many distractions online. If a shopper leaves your site, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested; they could still be very engaged with and want to purchase something from you, but the cards are stacked against you regarding attention. Retargeting ads allow merchants to get a second crack at making a sale—and these second chances add up.
eCommerce will continue to evolve along with customer preferences and digital trends. Merchants that can adjust quickly and keep themselves at the forefront of eCommerce best practices will be able to thrive, instead of trying to survive as each year becomes increasingly more competitive.
Perhaps the most insidious part of these mistakes is that they can be so easy to make if you aren’t careful and regularly benchmarking your site to industry leaders. If you find yourself guilty of making a few of these mistakes view this as an opportunity to prime your site for the future. Keep an eye on your analytics and KPIs to see how they improve as you put the above solutions into action.
Ron is the CEO of Visiture and spends his time leading his team of evil geniuses to get more results for his customers. His passion is helping eCommerce business owners and marketing professionals navigate the search marketing landscape and use data to make more effective decisions to drive new traffic and conversions.