e-commerce

If you’re a business owner who wants to sell things online or already does, steering clear of some common e-commerce pitfalls can help you keep customers happy while remaining profitable and resilient in the marketplace. Here are six mistakes to look for and remedy.

1. Staying Silent About Negative Feedback

One research team published data in 2019 about how e-commerce feedback and public reviews affect consumer perceptions. The conclusions showed that 95% of shoppers depend on reviews to learn about and evaluate products. Moreover, user reviews were second only to product images for helping site visitors gauge an item’s suitability.

The statistics indicated that 53% of people specifically look for negative reviews, and 37% positively factor in a site representative’s responses when judging products. However, only 13% of e-commerce sites respond to negative feedback — even when people give it about a company’s most popular products.

Ignoring negative comments may seem like the easiest thing to do, and you may not think that responding has a measurable impact. However, this study proves that assumption wrong.

2. Making the E-commerce Checkout Process Too Difficult

People typically shop online because they appreciate the convenience it offers. However, many lose patience if checking out requires going through too many steps or is too complicated overall. According to one study, 90% of shoppers aged 55 and over and 83% of millennials said they would not complete transactions at e-commerce sites if the checkout phase was too long or complex. Also, 55% of people in the first group would stop doing business at the site for good.

Set expectations for customers by providing a progress bar at the top of checkout pages or telling them the number of steps. Consider giving them the option of creating an account to save time with future orders or checking out as a guest if they don’t want to register now.

3. Using Packaging That Doesn’t Protect

E-commerce accounts for more than 10% of retail sales. Succeeding as an online shopping provider requires using the right packaging. The goal is to protect the goods in transit while keeping costs as low as possible. A report published in 2019 found that nearly 50% of those polled said receiving a damaged item from an e-commerce site would make them less likely to order from that company again.

You also don’t want to use packaging that’s so protective that it prevents people from accessing their merchandise. Amazon is one of the major e-commerce providers that introduced a “frustration-free” packaging program. It encompasses making the shipping containers easily accessible, simple to recycle and minimally wasteful.

Explore how you could pick packaging that safeguards the products inside but does not upset your customers or make you go over budget. Those goals may seem daunting, but making progress in achieving them should pay off for the long-term.

4. Failing to Offer a Free Shipping Option

A 2019 report found that 84% of worldwide shoppers made e-commerce purchases because the merchant offered a complimentary shipping option. Moreover, half of those polled avoided shopping at online stores that charged for all shipments.

Not giving your customers free shipping could initially seem like one of the e-commerce pitfalls you don’t want to fix. Wouldn’t sending products at no cost to consumers make you lose too much money? Maybe not. A possible compromise would be to provide free shipments to people who meet an order minimum. Then, they may put extra things in their shopping carts to qualify for the perk, bringing more money to you.

5. Lacking the Transparency Customers Want

What do people prioritize when shopping online? According to one survey, 95% of buyers expect to see the total costs of their purchases — including taxes and shipping — before checking out. Plus, more than half track their deliveries.

Make your e-commerce site cater to people who love getting clear, reliable information. When they click to see the shopping cart page, aim to show them a breakdown of all costs, including any discounts received from promotions. Offer trackable delivery if possible, and advertise it as a perk available. When consumers buy things they need in tight timeframes, they’ll appreciate accessing a personalized link to see a parcel’s progress.

Providing a high level of transparency also reduces the chances of people needing support from your customer service team before finalizing their transactions. When you give answers to questions customers commonly ask, they’ll feel impressed by your proactiveness and eager to do business with your company.

6. Falling Short on E-commerce Cybersecurity Protocols

You should also take the necessary steps to protect customer data and secure your site to minimize the likelihood of a breach. Suffering a cyberattack could disrupt your business and make people lose trust in the enterprise. Many shoppers may be so dismayed by a security shortcoming — and your company’s perceived failure to stop it — that they quit purchasing.

The results of one study showed that 83% of consumers in the U.S would take breaks from spending at breached companies, and would do so for several months. Then, 21% responded that learning of such a security issue would make them permanently stop doing business at the site.

Hiring a cybersecurity consultant to do an audit is an excellent way to determine where weak spots exist. Some of the results may surprise and disappoint you, but they’ll show you where to begin making improvements and how to gauge when the changes will cause meaningful outcomes.

One of the best ways to thrive in the e-commerce world is to understand common mistakes and avoid them. The actionable tips here let you ensure that your processes and offerings are as relevant and helpful as possible, thereby making your site competitive in a challenging and increasingly crowded marketplace.

Megan R. Nichols is a technical writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She regularly contributes to sites like Industry Today, Born2Invest, and Business Process Incubator. Follow Megan on Twitter @nicholsrmegan and subscribe to her blog to stay in touch.

Pitfalls stock photo by Kelly Marken/Shutterstock