Someone I had worked with a few years ago contacted me out of the blue last week, espousing their disappointment over the flat sales for their new eCommerce business. They had a great idea, but their momentum fell flat one week after their official launch. I spent the better half of an hour digging for more details in a quest to help get their newest endeavor back on track.
Truth be told, this client was not experiencing an unusual struggle. Achieving sustainable growth with an online business is hard work. In fact, 22 percent of eCommerce businesses fail within their first year. eCommerce is not as easy as it looks. You can have the most innovative products on the market and still not attract customers.
There are several reasons why eCommerce websites fail. Here are just a few:
Ditch the poor design
A poorly designed eCommerce site can cause potential shoppers to flee in a hurry. Information overload is one of the biggest faux-pas online business owners commit. Trust me when I say more is not necessarily better. Cramming too much information onto a single page will cause visitors to bounce faster than Tigger on his way to a picnic with Pooh.
The only thing worse than too much information on a page is low-quality graphics or an over-abundance of them. Flashing gifs, colored backgrounds on top of other colored backgrounds, and low-resolution photos enlarged until they are super fuzzy do not make a great first impression. Not everyone is an artist or a graphic designer. Consulting with a person well-versed in graphics can help with avoiding this pitfall and is worth the investment.
Pop-ups also annoy visitors to your site and make it difficult to navigate to pertinent information. I’m not saying you should never use pop-ups on your site. Use them sparingly and do not program them to continue to emerge until visitors take you up on whatever you are offering. If they must keep closing a pop-up box every time they navigate to a new page on your site, they will abandon your page.
These are just a few tips for designing a more user-friendly eCommerce site. I can get into more detail with online retailers interested in improving their sites.
Streamline the checkout process
To say consumers have become spoiled with free shipping over the years is an understatement. They don’t just expect it, they demand it. Online businesses that fail to offer this perk will find online shoppers committing cart abandonment and taking their dollars elsewhere. There are ways to incorporate the cost of shipping into product pricing so that you aren’t losing money on free shipping. Somewhere in the back of their minds, most customers know this happens. Still, there is something about seeing a $0 next to the estimated shipping costs line during checkout that makes them giddy.
Other ways to streamline your checkout process:
As of the writing of this blog, 1.8 million online retailers were operating in the U.S. alone. If you add in global eCommerce, the figure jumps to 7.1 million. That is a lot of competition, which is why online business owners must go the extra mile to help themselves stand out from the crowd. One of the most trusted and relevant ways to build brand authority is with quality content. Whether it is a blog offering tips about how to use your products, or a weekly podcast to discuss the state of the industry, providing value-added tools for your customers boosts engagement and encourages brand loyalty.
eCommerce SEO tactics also draw eyeballs to your site. Take the time to use relevant (and unique) keywords for every page and every product on your site. Yes, it is a lot of work to do this, but the effort is well worth the reward.
Create a top-notch marketing strategy
There is more to marketing your online business than taking out a few paid ads on Facebook or other social media platforms. Investing randomly in advertising does not produce fruitful results. Sometimes it propels your eCommerce site into a death spiral from which it cannot recover. Claiming your Google My Business account and tapping into influencer marketing are just a few of the marketing strategies that convert leads into loyal customers. Working with a marketing professional is the best way to craft a plan that takes your unique selling proposition and goals for growth into account.
Crushing your eCommerce goals
Ready to crush it online? Do you dare to think big and ditch those limiting beliefs that stand between success and failure? Reach out to The Write Reflection™ today for more tips on how to go from eCommerce newbie to online sales sensation.
Shari L. Berg is the owner/operator of The Write Reflection, and a writing professional for 25 years.