You may think that setting up ecommerce websites is simple – all you have to do is search online for a design and hosting platform, sign up for a free trial, upload a few photos and a description per product, press publish and voila, an ecommerce website live on the web.

Alas an ecommerce website is not as simple as your standard blog website – there are additions and intricacies that need to be considered. Ecommerce means customers buying from you, it means processing payments safely and securely, along with accessing, using and storing customer data.

Before you reach this point, you need to attract attention to your website and entice people to buy. With consistent effort and an understanding of what drives ecommerce websites, you can have a vibrant and successful online business. Below are 4 mistakes commonly made on ecommerce websites:

Not Simple And Clear

It may sound slightly derogatory to think of your customers only needing a simple layout to your ecommerce website but the truth is that simplicity is strongly interlinked with buying psychology.

The customer wants to be able to navigate easily around an ecommerce website and they also want a payment process that is both secure and quick. This does not mean rushing someone into buying something, removing important steps such as reviewing their order and so on, it means offering a range of payment options that are known and trusted such as SagePay, ApplePay and PayPal etc. The process of buying needs to be clear, with defined steps that are not too cumbersome; neither should you have too many steps.

This simplicity and clarity applies to your whole site. There is no bigger turn off on an ecommerce website than a complex design, especially when combined with poor quality, low resolution product photos with minimal product descriptions that do nothing to entice your customer.

Not Optimised For The Customer

Just as the high street is a busy place, the online world of retail and ecommerce is even more competitive. Not only do you have competitors breathing down your neck with flash sales but you have search engines telling you what they do and do not like.

The icing on the cake is that you also need to appeal to your customers and for many failing ecommerce websites this is their big downfall.

First time visitors drive the majority of online conversions but these first time buyers are the most expensive acquisitions and those ecommerce sites that are failing are doing so because they are not encouraging repeat custom.

Essentially, an online website will work hard to snare a customer but don’t put in the same amount of effort to keep them. By looking at how larger brands do this, you can better understand how to effectively target your customers.

In most cases, it means capturing customer information, with the most basic being an email address so that you can offer discounts, notify them of upcoming sales and pre-sale events. This is a low cost form of advertising, made even better by the fact that you can personalise newsletter and emails to your customer.

Inaccurate Financial Analysis

New ecommerce websites usually trade at a loss initially until they reach economies of scale.

Even when they do have a glut of customers, new and returning ones, the finances are still under strain. There are many factors that nibble at the profit margin – inventories, payment gateway fees, postage and packaging, staff, advertising, fees for technological innovations to name but a few.

Unfortunately, a small business may work out their finances in the beginning and assume that the profit margin remains the same, only to find some weeks or possibly months later that they are making no money and still trading at a loss.

Accurate financial analysis should be something that an ecommerce business is constantly monitoring and calculating simply because the factors mentioned above are variable – they change all the time, sliding up and down the scale.

Unfortunately, coupled with this is the penchant to continually offer discounts and reductions in a misplaced effort to attract more customers. These events are not to be dismissed entirely but an ecommerce website should not be offering any kind of sale or reduction unless it has been accurately costed.

Not Being Transparent

People buy from websites they trust. But even big brands do things that annoy their customers which leads to all kinds of negative feedback and publicity.

Hidden extra costs or massive postage are two factors that will instantly annoy your customers. Take the costs that were, until recently, associated with cheaper airlines for example – buying your £20 air fare was all well and good but once check-in costs were added, along with fines for too-large cabin bags and suddenly your bargain airfare is a hell of a lot costlier. Customers were therefore annoyed and they felt duped. Being honest and fair in pricing policies is essential for any ecommerce website.

Work hard on the smaller details and your ecommerce website should fly!

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