Top 10 E-Commerce Mistakes

The novelty of shopping on the Internet has worn off, and today’s customers are sophisticated and discerning. Because the competition is always just a mouse-click away, you need to make sure your site is the very best it can be. Because if you do not do e-commerce right, your visitors will find someone who does. Try not to make any of these common mistakes:

  1. Trying to sell the wrong product online. Not all products will sell successfully on the Internet. Inexpensive products that require a shipping charge are typically not worth selling, particularly if they can be easily purchased in most local stores. Other products, such as specialized high-end clothing, may be more difficult to sell because people prefer to try them on. Research how other e-commerce sites have fared with similar products and what tactics that have used to entice shoppers into ordering online. For more information, see What Products Can’t You Sell Online?
  2. Lack of marketing. Just because you have a product and a Web site does not necessarily mean anyone will find it. You need to market your site both online and off. Focus on your company’s competitive advantage, and do your best to convince the customer that you are offering a great deal.
  3. A poorly designed Web site. In their haste to get online quickly and start selling, too many e-commerce novices do not display their wares well. Many would-be Web designers crowd their sites with too much information or cram too many items on a single page. A professional-looking site that features a dozen items with clear photos and descriptions is more effective than one that includes 50 sales items all bunched together. Also, be wary of too much color, Flash animation, or graphics that can slow downloads. For more information on designing a clean and effective Web site, read Three Rules for Building Fast-Loading Web Pages.
  4. Falling behind the times. If you do not keep your site current, you will lose out to competitors that do. Stay on top of the industry and post new items often. If customers visit your site over the course of several weeks or months and nothing has changed, they may assume the site is no longer maintained, and they may look elsewhere. A successful e-commerce site is one that stays current and appears vibrant.
  5. Poor checkout procedures. Once your customers decide what they want to purchase, it should be easy to go to the shopping cart and pay without having to answer questions or jump hurdles. Make completing the transaction as easy and painless as possible.
  6. Not testing your site. All the links on your site, including product descriptions, photos, the shopping cart, feedback, and others, should be routinely tested to make sure they work.
  7. A hard-to-find or nonexistent privacy policy. Although most people will not actually read your privacy policy, some shoppers will want to know what you will do with the information you collect. Click here to view a sample Web site privacy policy.
  8. Poor order fulfillment. Word travels fast on the Internet, and just one or two unhappy customers can do irreparable damage to your reputation. Before you launch your site, make sure you are prepared to fill the orders your customers place, and do your best to deliver your product in a timely fashion.

  9. Straying from your objective. If your goal is to have an online children’s furniture business, do it; don’t start selling patio furniture or antiques. Too many e-commerce sites lose their primary focus and start spreading themselves too thin. Stick with your area of expertise.
  10. Poor customer service. Perhaps this is the most significant area of all. Web consumers today are very conscious of customer service, and they are apt to go elsewhere if they feel you are not providing them with the level of service they deserve. If you heed only one thing from this list, make it this one. Provide excellent customer service and your satisfied customers will spread the word.