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Starting a retail business on your own is not an easy thing, but trying your hands at e-commerce can seem even scarier than most other ventures. You not only need to have a deep knowledge of the market you are trying to conquer, but you must also become an accomplished webmaster and internet marketer. Before you have second thoughts and change your mind about it, look around: there are so many online shops out there, and they are doing just fine! You can do it too, don’t worry! Learn from other people’s experience, avoid making the same e-commerce mistakes they made, and start building your online store right now!
Online shopping is increasingly popular, but the big brand names like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart get stronger and more aggressive by the day, not to mention that they offer just about everything. Trying to compete with them would be a total waste of time. Instead, you need to find a gap in the market, a narrow niche you are (or can become) knowledgeable in. This would make your life easier as far as aspects like inventory management and e-commerce website maintenance are concerned, but it will also help you with your branding and search engine optimization efforts.
One of the biggest e-commerce mistakes is not knowing who your audience is. Establishing who is your target customer represents one of the very first steps you need to make before you even build an online store. The population segment you address impacts a series of choices like the color theme you use on your website, the way you formulate your promotional messages, the kind of promotions you run, the type of content you write, and the list can go on.
Many e-commerce websites thrive on the power of product pictures. After all, the image and the product description are the only ways you can inform your potential customers. In the absence of touch and smell, visuals and text become the only marketing tools you have. This is why using big high-quality pictures becomes of utmost importance. Paying for the services of a professional product photographer who would also process the pictures and make them website ready is not a bad idea. Ideally, you should include more than one picture of each product so that the customer can see it from different angles. Another unfortunate e-commerce mistake is using an incorrect image for a product. A customer will lose faith in your website if the product description describes one thing while the image shows something completely different.
Whether it was via search, referrals or online ads, a potential customer has landed on a product page. That’s great, but now what? Even if he instantly decides to make a purchase, wouldn’t it be better for you if he had the opportunity to add other products in his shopping cart before he checks out? What if he’s looking for something slightly different, and you have it? Make sure he can navigate through your website easily! How do you do that? An internal search option would be great. Most e-commerce website builders also have a “Related Products” option displaying at the bottom of your page thumbnails of entries within the same category.
Although the field of e-commerce has witnessed huge development during recent years, there are still people out there who are afraid to enter their credit card details on a site that does not seem trustworthy. And, they are right! There are many e-commerce scams and traps. Of course, your site is not one of them, but how would your prospects know? You have to tell them!
When you incorporate secure payment technology, tell your customer about it by displaying the respective logo in a corner. Also, testimonials are a very effective marketing tool. Ask your most satisfied customers if you can use their name on the site, and work together on crafting a convincing message. Has your brand been featured on a trustworthy portal? Brag about it! Some site builders like Wix make it very easy to add testimonials thanks to built-in apps that they feature.
More and more people are now using their smartphones to make purchases. If your e-commerce site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you can potentially lose out on a large number of sales. Just think about it: most people check their email and social media from their phones, and those are exactly where your marketing campaigns are likely focused. If someone sees an ad for your store on Facebook or receives an email with a coupon code while checking for updates on their phone, they’ll want to click to your website right away to make a purchase. If they need to remember to wait until they get home to check your site from their desktop, you’ve likely lost the sale.
Once your customer has decided to make a purchase, payment should be quick and easy. Include an option for the customer to check out as a guest rather than requiring registration for your site first. If the checkout process is too complicated or timely, it may turn the customer off completely from making the purchase. That’s a big e-commerce mistake that you want to avoid! Include as few fields as possible for checkout and make sure your customer receives instant confirmation of their purchase, complete with a tracking number for peace of mind.
Customers want to know that they will receive good service in case a problem should occur with their order. A bad customer service interaction could mean losing that customer for good. Most customers realize that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and the error may even be on their part. For example, they may have ordered a medium but realized after placing the order that they really need a small. Whatever the reason, the customer needs to get in touch with you to get an issue resolved. Ideally, you’ll have several contact options for customer service, such as a phone number, web chat, and email. Make sure that you use a call center that you trust if you choose to outsource your customer service calls.
While building an e-commerce website might seem daunting at first, it is a challenge worth taking, and an educational experience. Learning from other people’s experience is a surefire way to avoid costly e-commerce mistakes.
This article was originally published on July 13, 2015. Its content has since been updated.
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