Common ecommerce mistakes and how to avoid them

One of the best things about ecommerce is that it makes shopping incredibly easy. Customers can browse thousands of websites to find their perfect product at the best price, buy it from the comfort of their own homes, and then have it shipped directly to their door.

In a market like that, customer experience is everything. And creating a truly amazing experience takes work. A lot of it. But if you’re an ecommerce merchant, you’ll know all about the late hours and unwavering effort running a successful online store takes. And with such a tightly packed schedule, mistakes can be made.

There are a lot of common, little things that slip through the cracks in ecommerce. But as small as they might appear, these can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

Let’s run through some of the most common ecommerce mistakes we’ve noticed recently, and take a look at a few ways you can ensure your customers are getting the experience you want to deliver.

A poor checkout process

Design is vitally important – both UX (user experience) and visual. Not only does a well designed website boost trust, but a well designed checkout process is one of the best ways you can reduce your abandoned carts.

Abandoned carts are a massive loss for ecommerce. While one in every ten visitors adds something to their online cart – only one in thirty actually convert. The rest leave their products unpurchased and never return. Sure, there are plenty of ways to recover these buyers, but prevention is always better than cure.

One of the biggest reasons a customer will up-and-leave your website before completing their purchase is that your checkout process is convoluted or confusing. Perhaps it requires the buyer to provide too much information? Perhaps they need to take further actions they otherwise wouldn’t, like subscribing to your newsletter?  

Keep your checkout process clean, easy to follow, and with as few surprises as possible. For every unnecessary step you remove, you’ll find a fraction more of your customers stay to conversion.

Hidden shipping costs

Shipping costs are a reality of ecommerce. While some vendors might be able to afford free shipping domestically out of their own pockets, the vast majority of us will need to add that cost to a customer’s total before they checkout.

Again, you want as few nasty surprises as possible during checkout. You don’t want to distract your customer from their purchase. So make sure you have your shipping costs clearly stated as early on as your product pages themselves!

Poor mobile experience

As of January this year, as least 62% of smartphone users were using their phones to buy stuff online. The days when online stores could get away with a desktop-only website are long, long behind us. You need a responsive website, or at the very least, a mobile-first design.

Luckily, if you’re with an ecommerce platform like Shopify, this should already be done for you. Any business that has established an online store in the last two or three years probably already has device responsivity baked right in. But that only serves to make it even more egregious for an established business to not fit into the mobile world.

If you haven’t updated your website in a while, it’s definitely worth opening it up on your phone and asking yourself whether you could be doing more for your mobile customers.

Sending too many emails immediately after purchase

If a customer has made a purchase, left you their email, and accepted marketing, you’ll almost certainly want to start sending them emails asking for public reviews or social follows. Perhaps you’ll try and get a second purchase out of them, or have them fill out a Net Promoter Score survey? You’ll probably want to educate them on your brand with the latest newsletter, too.

While all of these are great ideas – be careful not to flood your new customers’ inboxes! Sending out too much too quickly could lead to a high unsubscribe rate, or even set off spam filters.

There are a few ways to ensure you’re not hitting your customers too hard, too fast. First things first, review all the live automations you have in place. If your new customers are receiving multiple emails from multiple flows, you’re going to want to pare it back a little.

Next, see if your email platform has any ‘Smart sending’ functionality. Some platforms, such as Klaviyo, will allow you to only send emails out to people who have not received one for a specified period (i.e: the last 12 hours). This helps reduce email fatigue with your audience, and keep your unsubscribes to a minimum.

Asking for a review too early

Ideally, all your customers will love your service so much they’ll be positively itching to tell their friends, family, and strangers on the street about it. Unfortunately for us all, this is hardly the case. You need to work for your referrals.

Asking for reviews (with, or without an incentive) can be a great way to boost your social proof online. However, you’ll need to do it at the right time.

You want to ask your customers for reviews when they’re still in the honeymoon period with your product. They’ve received their order, they’re excited, and they want to tell the world. But don’t jump the gate! Asking for a review before the product has even arrived can cheapen your service. Patience is, as ever, a virtue here.

As an ecommerce merchant, you’ll have a good understanding of how long your products take to ship to most locations. Make the most of this data, and set up your post-purchase follow up flows to to kick in when your customers are most likely to have actually received their new product, and taken it out of the box.

Thanks to the incredibly fine-grained location targeting our ecommerce and email platforms allow us to do, it’s entirely possible to hit all your audience – domestic and international – at the perfect time to encourage positive reviews.

Automating too much without personalisation

We love automation. In fact, we believe that (despite popular opinion) automation actually helps add the human touch to modern marketing! But that’s only when it’s done right.

We’ve all shopped at an online store, only to have them rain down a torrential flood of emails into our inboxes that have absolutely nothing to do with the product we purchased. More importantly, we’ve all unsubscribed from a mailing list like that.

These are clear cases of automation without personalisation. You need both to succeed.

Lifecycle marketing principles are all about keeping your marketing relevant to your customer’s interests, and their position along their journey with your brand. And that’s a job for data capture, personalisation and finesse. Put as much thought into your lifecycle marketing strategies as you do your pricing, creative and growth strategies.  

Make sure your ecommerce and email platforms are integrated, and that you’re using all the data available to you to deliver the most relevant products, messaging and promotions to each individual customer. It sounds difficult – it is difficult – but it’s the best way to succeed in the ecommerce marketplace.

If you need a hand with a new lifecycle marketing strategy, or anything else you’ve read in this post – please get in touch. We’d be happy to help!  

Hi, I’m Jackson; Andzen's Digital Content Producer. I write copy for our client businesses - whether it be email campaigns, blog posts, social media posts or something new. It's my job to write stuff that converts, boosts engagement and pushes brands to new heights. In my spare time, I enjoy piano, reading books, and writing short stories.

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