Critical Mistakes for eCommerce Startups

The glamorous allure of starting an online shop is becoming more rampant, however, often people create a website, do some promotions, and then wonder why there is no treasure chest at the end of the rainbow.


Did you know that 90% of e-commerce projects fail? So what makes the difference between success and failure when it comes to online retail?


Firstly, determine what is going to be your point of differentiation. Having a few extra lines of products isn’t going to make the cut. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and take an honest hard look at what you are providing. It’s often the little details that make the difference and we are not just talking digital. Everything from the delivery service right down to the packaging needs to be considered – all the foundational elements that develop your brand. The Internet is a crowded place, and your brand is going to be an extremely powerful means to standout. Remember that your domain name should be your brand, so check that it’s available. After understanding who your customers are and what their needs are, it is important to establish a coherent communication style throughout your website.


Your now thinking to yourself, great, I have a fantastic brand and my website is attractive, so why is it still failing to ‘show me the money’? Well the fact is that e-commerce conversion rates sit around 4% and around 60% of people abandon at the checkout, which leads us to one of the important considerations, which is often an afterthought for many online retailers. Yes, I am talking about User Experience (UX). The journey from the time a customer enters your site through to the final “Confirm purchase”. Map out each stage in the user journey and be merciless at minimising the number of steps they need to take in order to buy. Make analytic your friend and determine where people are leaving your site in order to evaluate your current design and help with making improvements.


Capturing Data is often something that online shops get wrong, and can have a massive bearing on bounce rates. Take some learning’s from Online retailer ASOS. They used to force customers to create an account in order to proceed to checkout. Now they allow the option to checkout as a guest. What’s the difference? Well not much, except the tone is very different, its not being forced upon the user and the messaging clearly states what each piece of information will be used for to improve the customer experience. Sounds simple, but this slight variation in the user journey decreased cart abandonment by 50%.


Don’t forget about SEO. What is the point of having a beautiful store if no one can find it? This in itself is worthy of having its own post as there is a lot to cover but some of the main considerations are:


  1. Have unique Meta on every page of a site
  2. Most e-commerce sites have the option to sort products by price and other criteria. This is great for users but can cause havoc in the search engines if each time the products are sorted in a different way, they generate a new URL. Robots Wildcard, canonical tags and parameter handling can help address these issues.
  3. Make sure you have pages / profiles set up on all the main social networking websites. Include relevant ‘like’, ‘+1’, ‘tweet’ and ‘pin’ buttons on all pages, particularly product pages as users often ‘like’ products they would like to buy.
  4. Links with brand anchor text are really important if you want your company to be recognised by the search engines as a brand.
  5. Unless you are Versace and hold high authority ranking, you are going to need to add copy to your product pages.

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