What Not to Do in Ecommerce
If you’re reading this, you are one of the 1.5 million ecommerce vendors trying to be relevant on the internet. Some are more successful than others, and often the most successful are those who have been around the longest. But that’s not always the case, and there are guidelines you can follow to make sure you’re giving your business the best shot it has to become a force in online commerce.
While forced and unforced errors can sabotage your best efforts, you’re fortunate to operate in an environment rich with constructive advice. Let’s sum up some of the pitfalls that pose problems for online sellers and tackle each one by one.
Visual impact is critical, and it includes the graphical interface of your site as well as what is (or is not) on it. Do you have a unique brand, complete with a logo, a theme, and some form of a mission statement? Does your site layout lend itself to navigation that makes the buying process as simple as possible? Are your products reflected in quality photos that supplement product descriptions, and aren’t replaced by them?
Does your website load efficiently on a tablet or smart phone? Remember that shoppers today are more likely to be reaching for their devices than sitting at a computer. Spend the time and money necessary to optimize your layout.
Longtime players have dedicated shoppers who access their sites directly and peruse through them because of loyalty. You may not be there for some time, so it’s critical to use proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to direct customers to your offerings. If a potential buyer sees a search engine return to your site and finds out that it returns to a “404 Not Found” message, chances are good you will be abandoned in favor of a more reliable vendor.
Once you’ve earned trust, ensure that the buying process is seamless. That means making your shopping cart navigation clean and easy. Avoid forcing customers to create an account if they don’t want to; chances are they won’t want to if they don’t have a choice. Make the graphical interface of your cart easy to read and provide intuitive text. Total up all costs in the first stage or two so as to avoid surprising shoppers at the last step. You will probably lose them.
In the vast sea of ecommerce, you are a veritable minnow. Make yourself stand out with efforts to establish your identity and ability to fill needs. Pay attention to the customer service aspect of your business, as it may be one of the most neglected of all. Responding to concerns and inquiries in a timely manner will create a loyalty connection between you and the customer, who is far more likely to return if you extend a personal hand.
Finally, part of putting yourself out there as an online merchant is understanding your audience. Buyers see right through the Jack-of-all-trades types; if they’re hoping for a generic shopping trip, they will visit Walmart or Amazon. Be the specialist to the extent you can, and identify your target audience. This allows you to fill a niche in the mind of consumers who will make you their go-to merchant for their future needs.