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There are now more e-commerce businesses sprouting on the Internet than ever before and numbers show we’re only witnessing the beginning of this major shift. However, not all businesses thrive in this environment in the end and it’s mostly because they make a series of mistakes they can hardly recover from. This is why we’ve compiled a list of six of the most common pitfalls you need to avoid when building your e-commerce website:
They Don’t Upload High-Quality Images
Even though a great number of people are now willing to buy online, this doesn’t mean that you can cut back on the quality of presentation of your online shop. Of course, this starts with the product photos you’re uploading. Customers need to have clear images of the product you’re offering so they can better understand what they’re purchasing.
Don’t limit yourself to only two or three photos – upload more and make sure you get the product from different angles and in all its available colors. To this end, the lighting must also be very good – if you don’t have any natural light for your photo sessions, consider buying a professional lighting system.
They Underestimate the Power of Presentation
That’s right, presentation design is everything. Once the customer reaches your website, it needs to be attractive and user-friendly enough to keep them engaged and interested in your products. It’s all in the background image you select, in the manner in which you display the available features and in the words you use.
When writing your texts, stay simple and minimal, so your customers can easily follow all the steps you want them to. As for the imagery you pick, you need to consider something catchy and efficient. Having said this, it’s crucial to remember how important your landing page is, since it has the ability to draw in permanent customers. For ease of use, you can also rely on a quick and efficient landing page builder to get the job done.
The Average is Not Enough
Looking great is vital, but function is paramount as well. And these days, being average is not enough, unless you’re okay with being swallowed by your competition. What this means is that you should include everything that makes a shopping (or even just visiting) experience a smooth, safe and enjoyable ride. Here are a few tips:
- Security – invest in strong infrastructure, solid code and a system that’s resistant to hacking and malicious attacks. Nobody wants to suffer a PR scandal due to an easily avoidable hack, so buy 2-FA and make sure everyone’s data is secure.
- Inform the buyer – ideally, you should have everything in place to convert the site visitor into a buying customer. Product reviews, impressions from verified buyers, related suggestions and shopping guides are something that can turn a curious visitor into a happy customer.
- Offer value – While a bare site can still bring profit, it’s always a good idea to add some spice in order to keep the visitors clicking – no one likes another soulless e-commerce website. Consider adding a blog or video section where people can get informed about relevant topics, while not being screamingly promotional and sales-y. Remember, people buy from people they like, and one way to become likeable is to offer something sincere and valuable.
Not Enough Emphasis on Customer Support
Many e-commerce business owners feel that since customers order online, without the need for actual human interaction, there is no need for them to provide quality customer support. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be more harmful to the business.
Customers always need someone available to answer all their questions and they need to be able to file a complaint without too much hassle. In the end, good customer service will come back under the shape of recommendations and positive reviews that ultimately boost profitability.
They Don’t Offer a Wide Variety of Shipping Options
Customers often get frustrated when they have proceeded to checkout only to see their shipping cost almost as high as the item cost. In order to fix this, businesses need to get creative and offer a wide variety of shipping options.
This means including both cheaper standard shipping and the more expensive tracked shipping. Another great idea would be to ask less for any new item added to the cart in order to incentivize the customers to buy more. Look into more carriers and see what each one has to offer, so you can also switch them immediately if anything unforeseen happens to the previous one.
They Don’t Make Their Website Mobile Responsive
Although this may sound like an odd thing to do in this day and time, there are still plenty of online businesses that don’t know how important it is to make their website mobile responsive. This is why customers will often find themselves browsing on a spiffy-looking website on their PC, but stumble afterwards upon a more difficult to use one when they switch to their phone or tablet.
If you haven’t built your website yet, make sure to ask your developer for this mobile-friendly version as well. If you’re taking on this endeavour by yourself by using online builders, just remember that a lot of them already come with this feature as a given.
Everything said above is easier said than done – after all, if everything was so simple, professional web designers, coders and graphical artists would be out of work. Which is exactly why you shouldn’t spare money when developing a site, despite the lure of some half-baked template that you can transform into a barely functioning mess. For this reason, it’s better to dedicate a respectable sum from your budget in order to do this right (many programs offer loans and subsidies for starting businesses, and you can check the commercial loans here). If you’re just starting out, you probably have dozens of things you’d rather spend money on, but a solid e-commerce site is a foundation of your future business.
While it’s fair to say that building an e-commerce website is now easier than it ever was, be sure to avoid at least the six pitfalls mentioned above. By doing so, you’re bound to have an easier start in this exciting, yet volatile new environment.
Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.