13 Scary E-Commerce Mistakes

  • Strategy
  • October 20, 2022
  • by Amy Lightfoot, Will Lynch & Freyja Wedderkop

Less than 2% of e-commerce store visits result in a sale, a statistic that drops with each e-commerce mistake made. As a result, customers will abandon their carts, click away, and find elsewhere to shop.

But, the buyer's journey doesn't have to end there. If you're having trouble closing sales, check out these 13 e-commerce mistakes you could be making and find out how to avoid them on your online store.

1. Not backing up your data 

The crux of an e-commerce business is the data - product, order, or customer data. So this must be up-to-date and secure to ensure business as usual and avoid disrupting your customers. And while Shopify has internal backups to stop the platform from going down, these backups aren’t all-encompassing; as a merchant, you need to back up your store's data independently.

Solutions like Rewind.io backup your store data for you, allowing you to restore, back up, and rewind easily at any time. They also have a helpful tool that you can use to calculate the lost revenue you could experience without a backup solution. 

2. Having a poor customer service tool 

With the cost of living crisis and looming recession, consumers prioritize vendors that provide a strong customer service experience. 84% of consumers consider customer service a key factor when deciding whether to purchase, and only three percent say it’s unimportant. 

Customer service is about more than your FAQ page. First, make sure you are using the right channels, such as Instagram DMs, to meet consumers where they are. Once you’ve found the right channels, it’s important to focus on the quality of your responses. Ensure you’re providing punctual and helpful information to limit the interaction length and effort needed by your consumer. Taking this advice can help improve brand trustworthiness, conversion rates, and the lifetime value of a consumer. A great example of this effective strategy is when Timbuk2, the modern designer bag brand, increased their response time by 92% and saw a 35% increase in revenue, demonstrating the financial impact of providing a good service.

If you’re selling internationally or trying to break into new markets, getting the customer experience right is even more important. We’ve got you covered! Check out our guide to international customer service. 

One of the biggest challenges brands have is managing a sudden influx of tickets, resulting in a poor customer experience and lost revenue. My top tip is to automate basic customer service requests through Gorgias, such as ‘where is my order?’ and FAQ queries. This frees up your CS team to respond to tickets that really need a human response. Caveat: always give your customer the option to speak to a human as easily as possible if they really want to…don’t scare them off or ghost them

Neil Forrest
Strategic Partner Manager, EMEA at Gorgias

3. Bad SEO strategy

 SEO and content marketing are essential to driving online conversions. If you don’t rank on search engines, customers can’t find or buy from you and will likely shop with a competitor that is easier to find. 

It’s important not to treat SEO as a “one size fits all” solution for your business. Instead, you should build a strategy that reflects your products, industry, and what your customers are searching. For instance, if you are a new clothing brand, you shouldn’t focus on trying to rank number 1 for “white t-shirt,” coming up against the major vendors in the fashion space. Instead, you should look at the niche and long-tail keywords better suited to your business to drive a quicker ROI.

You can build your SEO strategy in-house or work with a partner like Novos and leverage their expertise. An SEO partner will help you craft a data-informed strategy, making each word on your website count.

For example, D2C flower delivery company Bloom & Wild invested in an SEO strategy that saw SEO revenue grow by £16 million YoY giving an ROI of over 19000%.

4. Lack of robust warehousing and inventory management

Customer experience is the whole life cycle, from discovering your site through marketing to receiving a purchase via a delivery service, but often brands focus on the former. Neglecting your warehousing or inventory can lead to disgruntled customers and reduces CLTV. Making sure your product inventory and warehouse management run smoothly is crucial to a successful e-commerce business.

Failing to prioritize inventory management can result in delayed and lost orders. It also means you can end up selling stock you don't have and failing to shift stock you do have, leading to potentially disappointed customers who can’t get what they need. As a result, you could lose customers and tarnish your brand.

Fairfax and Favour, a luxury footwear retailer, invested in their back-office systems, which future-proofed them for the pandemic. While their sector was experiencing a 60% decline during the first 6 months of the pandemic, Fairfax & Favour saw a spike in sales of over 300%. A large contributing factor was that they could offer next-day delivery to 99% of their orders.

5. Spamming your customers with email marketing

There is a fine line between successful email marketing and spam. For example, if you overload your customers with emails, they will associate you with feelings of annoyance. Or they will stop engaging with your email marketing altogether and unsubscribe. 

Using a marketing tool, such as Klaviyo or Dotdigital, is a great way to ensure you craft a solid marketing strategy. Using these tools can ease the process of creating eye-catching marketing emails and can automate them based on consumer behavior, sending them when they ought to and expect to hear from you and no more than that.

6. Vague sizing information

Customers rely on your sizing charts or specifications sheets to understand what to expect from your product. So if you’re providing vague sizing charts and little to no specifications, be prepared for a high volume of returns. In addition, customers cannot try products when shopping online, so they must understand sizing before purchasing. If the customer can’t determine how a product, they are likely to pass on the purchase. 

There are several ways to improve sizing information and, in turn, the user experience (consider using the two in tandem as they support each other). 

The first step is to provide a size chart with detailed specifications instead of just a Small/Medium/Large sizing. The second step is to encourage User Generated Content. When requesting a post-purchase review, consider asking for information about sizing and fit and ask the customer to include photos - this can help other customers understand how a product will fit them. To expand on this, use various body types in your product images and models. Seeing how the products fit on different bodies can help provide confidence to the consumers that the product will work for them. 

7. Picking the wrong platform for scale 

E-commerce is a fast-growing industry, so it’s important to prepare for scaling your business - including picking the right e-commerce platform. Choosing the wrong platform could mean dealing with slow loading times, frequent site crashes, high customer bounce rates, and an unsatisfying user experience.

Even hugely successful e-com brands like Gymshark are susceptible to these e-commerce mistakes. While on Magneto, Gymshark's website crashed for eight hours on Black Friday in 2015. Shopify estimated that the outage cost Gymshark $143,000 in lost sales.

They have since moved to Shopify Plus and use Rewind to reduce potential store downtime. Shopify Plus is built for scale and supports many visitors during peak seasons like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

8. Not updating your software as and when you should

It’s easy to deprioritize making non-critical updates to your software; many people are happy to press the "update later" button and move on. But that decision may be a detriment to your site's security. When outdated software reaches an end-of-life (EOL) stage, it stops receiving security updates.

Most of the stores hacked in the 2020 Magento campaign operated on software that had surpassed its EOL date. Keeping up with software updates is tedious, so using a Shopify Plus agency to manage this can help you avoid common e-commerce mistakes like this and free up your team’s time. 

9. Lack of accessibility across your site

Being accessible is mutually beneficial - creating a great user experience for all your customers and saving yourself money and resources. But, unfortunately,  merchants will often treat accessibility as an afterthought. In fact, more than 80% of e-commerce retailers have been named in an ADA lawsuit since 2018, costing millions of dollars to the brands. 

Legal issues aside, this mistake has a negative impact on customers. Consumers who require additional support when using your site are likely to bounce if you have not made these adjustments - they can purchase from merchants for whom accessibility is a priority. 

We help clients achieve accessibility per requirements laid out by the Americans with Disabilities Act (you can read more here). Even going above and beyond legal requirements to create a truly exceptional user experience for all of your customers.

10. Aggressive GEO IP redirects

GEO IP redirects can be a great way to ensure your consumers are landing on the right site, with the correct content. That said, it’s important that redirects don’t diminish the user experience. 

For example, a user enters your UK site from the US, and your GEO IP automatically redirects them to the US site. It sounds ideal, but what if your customer wants to buy a product for someone in the UK? Or, they’re moving to the UK and want to see what their favorite store stocks there. Or, they just simply want to browse the UK site - no ulterior motive. Automatically redirecting customers is a bad user experience and can be frustrating, to say the least. 

A user-friendly suggestion is to create a pop-up. That way, the GEO IP will still detect if the user is on the wrong site based on their location but gives the user the ability to override the location choice if they prefer.

11. Translation mistakes 

When growing internationally, it’s tempting to auto-translate all your content - after all, it saves you time and lets you expand quickly. Unfortunately, auto-translate isn’t as effective as we’d hoped. Auto-translate often leads to mistakes and cultural and linguistic issues. For example, when KFC launched in China, they auto-translated their globally known phrase “finger-licking good.” Unfortunately, rather than a direct translation, the phrase translated to “eat your fingers off” - not the ideal brand messaging!  

Translating, like a lot of internationalization, is on a spectrum, and brands can decide to do a combination of 3 things: 

  • Translation: Simply render text from one language into another so that the meaning is equivalent. 

  • Localization: Address cultural and linguistic issues when adapting content for another locale/market.

  • Transcreation: Re-engineer your brand promise to make it engage with a foreign market on an emotional level.

Translating content on a per-language and per-market basis would lead to a better user experience, but this is timely, costly, and often requires expanding a team for ongoing campaigns. To strike the right balance between time and accuracy, we encourage using a local translator or tools like Langify and WeGlot. You can learn more about localizing content in our article here.

12. Not using all of the tools at your disposal

One of the benefits of Shopify is access to the thousands of third-party apps on the Shopify Plus app store, and while you don’t need all of them, it could be a mistake not to utilize some of the tools at your disposal. Third-party apps are a great way to reduce the workload for your in-house team and allow them to focus on what really matters - your customers. Without them, you could risk losing customers to competitors that are creating a great user experience with third parties. 

What’s the solution? Here’s just a short list of some of the apps you could use to elevate your e-commerce store on the front end and customer experience beyond basic: 

And as for your back-end, you can make shipping, tax, and fulfillment more seamless with: 

13. Forgetting to consider cultural differences across your markets

Rolling your store out into new regions is not simply making products available in more countries. It’s about providing the best user experience for customers across the world. As you craft your internationalization strategy, your team must consider cultural differences across markets. 

For China, Singles Day is an incredibly high-value day for sales. Therefore, if you sell in this market, overlooking Singles Day could cause you to miss significant revenue. 

As well as your campaigns and products, you should also consider the design of your regional sites. For example, in Japan, information density is expected to be much higher than on western websites. And in Mexico, people don’t want to use up their data plan. So, people wait until they’re on WiFi to browse a page with lots of images, meaning possible missed conversions. And on Chinese websites, hyperlinks almost always open in new tabs, a stark contrast to the preferred user experience in the UK. 

Different markets also have alternate preferences for payment methods. You could use Klarna across the board, but if you’re selling in Europe, particularly The Netherlands, and not using or advertising iDEAL on your store, customers will opt for a site that does. Tools such as Mollie allow you to offer a variety of payment methods with a single integration, so you aren’t missing out on potential revenue. 

Conclusion

At some point, while building or expanding your e-commerce business, you will likely slip up. Even seasoned merchants like Gymshark will make mistakes. While one or two mistakes could have a small impact, as they start to accumulate, you could have a serious problem on your hands. 

Managing and expanding your e-commerce store can be an overwhelming task to complete alone. Make sure you keep these key mistakes in front of your mind and craft a strategy for each facet of your business to make managing it easier. If you are looking for a little (or a lot!) extra support, please contact us.


Authors

Amy Lightfoot

Amy joined We Make Websites in 2020. She has a MSc in Information Science and has worked in product management across a variety of industries including FX trading, academic research, and e-commerce. In 2022 Amy moved over to our Solutions team to get stuck into the technical side of projects.

Will Lynch

Will joined We Make Websites in October 2021. He has a wide range of experience in e-commerce across marketing, partnerships and brand-side.

Freyja Wedderkop

Freyja joined We Make Websites in 2021. With over two years of B2B marketing, over a year of e-commerce marketing experience and an MSc in Marketing behind her, Freyja is our resident social media and content marketing guru. She also has a passion for design, events and, outside of marketing, loves running, swimming and playing netball!


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