When the inventory is stagnant and your business is not moving in a progressive direction, it can be extremely frustrating and confusing. Starting an ecommerce business is relatively easy and cheap, compared to the efforts required in sustaining it. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that
About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more.
All online businesses may not be successful, and three out of every four online startups may fail. Despite the survival rates, one should look at the core reasons why any business flourishes or fails in its initial years. Ecommerce, to be specific, is still the fastest growing market in the U.S. and Europe.
Maybe a change in certain practices can help accelerate the growth of ecommerce. Each business is unique, but when it comes to the use of technology, many entrepreneurs all over the world are making the same mistakes.
Here are a few such mistakes you might be making that are becoming a hurdle in the success of your ecommerce business:
You are not targeting multiple personas
You have probably heard the term “buyer persona.” Built from the real words of real buyers, a buyer persona tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves. (Buyer Persona Institute)
Many companies make only one ideal buyer persona when starting their business, overlooking the possibility of serving multiple buyer personas. If this possibility is ignored, investing in inbound marketing strategies could be a big failure.
For example, a developmental toys website is only targeting moms-to-be for their toys, while there is also a section of society where children with mental disabilities can use the same toys. When content only points out one buyer persona, people who don’t fit that persona might choose to leave your site for another seller.
Customers complain that one of their biggest problems with an online store is that the customer care doesn’t answer their queries. Here’s what you can do to solve these issues:
- Don’t be too over-focused on a single category of buyers. Try to maintain your existing customer base and develop a working strategy for multiple buyer personas.
- Adopt a call to action (CTA), which is the best way to optimize content for different buyers.
- Categorize customers on the basis of the purchases they often make from your site, and then send out personalized emails.
- Optimize the site to offer birthday and anniversary discounts to customers.
Customers love a personal touch, and they create a relationship of trust with businesses that give it. To be successful, it is important that you make them feel like they are treasured.
You do not have an easy-to-use and browse website
Ecommerce businesses can’t survive without functional websites. In the U.S. alone, 77 percent of the population is using the internet. In the year 2015, U.S. online retail sales surpassed the $300 billion mark for the first time. The time to revamp your ecommerce website is right now. Are you paying attention to the key features of a modern ecommerce website? A modern ecommerce website:
- Is highly functional
- Has great search features
- Has mobile automation
- Has low load times
You can either get help from agencies to craft a beautiful website that fits all your needs, or you can get help from online shopping platforms that provide a great interface with minimal efforts. You can read more about the crowded ecommerce platform market in this helpful post.
You have a difficult checkout system
Many of your customers are abandoning the cart midway through the checkout process and there’s a reason why. Baymard Institute reports that the percentage for abandonment of the shopping cart on ecommerce websites is 61.79 percent. This is the number of people who left your site and refused to spend for your products. According to Neil Patel, if you just invest in improving your checkout system, your customer will not only complete the checkout process, but your sales will also soar.
An inconvenient checkout process is a major reason why many customers leave without spending a dime. The system is either not designed to be responsive, or it may not work smoothly on mobile devices. A large number of users prefer to complete the transactions through their smartphones. MarketWired reports that 51 percent of shoppers leave checkout due to difficult navigation, tiny images (46 percent) and an inconvenient checkout process (26 percent).
The Linear Checkout: Baymard points out that an ideal checkout system should be linear. By linear, it means that the process should happen step-by-step and in flow. If you are stopping the customer in the middle of a checkout to make an account and then validate the email address, chances are the customer will go away for good. The only way to avoid non-linear checkout is to never force the customer to go back. Find more checkout usability tips in the case-based study at Baymard.
You do not use unique product descriptions and high definition product images
Consider your ecommerce website as a brick and mortar store. The face value of a product will sell it faster than anything else. Online customers need to know what the product is, how it will help them and what the specifications are that differentiate the product from its competitors.
“Poor product information accounted for 8% of the usability problems on the websites we tested. Even worse, poor product information accounted for 10% of the user failures…” 10 High-Profit Redesign Priorities, Jakob Nielsen, Usability Expert
A good and unique product description will earn you leads. The trick is to identify the ideal length of the description and then ace it. Imagine it as a virtual salesman who is trying his very best to convince a customer to buy a product. Look at the product description of furry adventure slippers on ThinkGeek:
High definition product images should be paired with a unique product description. Maybe your current website lacks this simple feature. Maybe you are not uploading photos with the right dimensions and they don’t look good on every device. Visit the websites of successful online sellers, like Zappos and L.L. Bean to see the kind of impact good photos can have on a customer. Photos are the only way to show your customers what you sell, so invest some time and money to make them appear attractive with the ideal pixels and dimensions.
Never post the manufacturer’s copy about the product on your own website. It is bad for SEO, because Google penalizes duplicate content. It is bad for your reputation, because that copy is only about specifications and does not entail benefits. You can either hire a copywriting service or do the reviews in-house to add a personalized touch to your products.
You site is bad at SEO
It is common for most ecommerce business owners to think that by listing hundreds of products on their site, customers will start pouring in from day one. That is far from reality. Product listings do not boost Search Engine Optimization and thus, the site has very few visitors. It can lead to frustration and discouragement. Unfortunately, optimizing ecommerce websites for SEO isn’t as easy as it is for blogs and small websites.
If you aren’t working on a proper SEO strategy, your business is going to suffer. Maybe you are not optimizing the product pages on the basis of demands. You can use this Kissmetrics checklist to see how your SEO is currently doing:
- Use model numbers in your title tags and H1 headings.
- Use brand names in your title tags and H1 headings.
- Don’t forget to fill out your image alt tag information.
- Don’t stuff the page with the keyword phrase by repeating it over and over again.
- And never, ever, use iframes to display content. Make sure your content actually exists on the product page it is meant to be on.
You don’t blog
You may brush it off as something unnecessary, but you aren’t looking at the big picture here. It doesn’t come as a surprise that a majority of ecommerce business owners are not working on a blog.
Owners question why they should have a blog when their primary purpose is to sell stuff. While blogs drive significant traffic to the main business sites, they also serve some special needs for specific ecommerce businesses. Thus, you should take advantage of this and set up a blog.
Search engine bots perform two primary functions. First, they crawl all over website content. Second, they index that content. This helps them answer the users when they perform a search on the search engine.
If you have a blog, the bots will do content crawling and index your business for words that may bring lots of traffic to your ecommerce site. Every time you publish a post, it will be indexed for a specific keyword and will work as an added route toward your website. If your content is really valuable, it can help you get higher rankings in Google.
For some quick tips, check out ‘A better lemonade stand’ blog and see the beauty of an ecommerce blog that is impressive and useful. Richard Lazazzera runs this blog. He also writes for Shopify and runs his own brand. He documents this entire “winning” process on his blog, and tells you all the great ways to make your customers feel like they are part of your journey.
Upsell, cross-sell processes are missing
Amazon reported in 2006 that cross-selling and upselling contributed to 35 percent of their revenue. Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru says that product recommendations alone are responsible for an average of 10 percent to 30 percent of ecommerce site revenues. So, what is upselling and cross-selling?
Upselling is a business strategy of selling a better, more expensive and superior version of a product that the customer already has, or is buying. It can be a higher model or the same product with some value-added features. These things raise the perceived value of a product in the eyes of the buyer.
For example, a customer is eyeing iPhone 7 32 GB for $649. If a salesman manages to sell the customer an iPhone 7 128 GB for $749, an iPhone 7 256 GB for $849 or an iPhone 7 Plus for $769, it is an upsell. In ecommerce, the popular feature of “Bought this? You might also like this…” often leads to an additional purchase by the customer, which is an upsell. If you want your stats to rise on the site, implement this simple trick to get more out of your business.
Cross-selling, on the other hand, is a strategy of selling something that goes along with an item the customer is already buying or thinking of buying. Jeff Stratton, head of McDonald’s Corp., USA, says that they place apple pie dispensers right behind the cashier because the placement leads to more sales. If they place the dispensers at the back, the sales would be halved.
In ecommerce, the user is only seeing what you want them to see. By adopting cross-selling techniques, you can display items that complement each other and also show reduced prices if the items are bought together. If there was cross-selling with an iPhone 7, you can put on your website:
- iPhone headphones with remote and microphone $79
- Skullcandy headphones $69
- iTunes gift card $25
- Griffin wireless speaker $79
Customers might get interested in these items and buy them with the iPhone, making your cross-selling technique successful.
The ecommerce journey requires frequent checks and balances and daily surveillance. Internet trends change overnight; if you work online, you should be able to keep up. Make sure that your workforce is prepared for these changes and can adapt to new trends. Selling is no different, be it through a brick and mortar store or an online one.
What matters is the way you sell. A Rice University study indicates that asking for customers for feedback is enough to keep them engaged. By doing what customers want, you can sell better and improve your store for future updates.