E-commerce sites have the tough task of competing against brick-and-mortar stores and online retail giants for often savvy online shoppers. According to a study of online consumers conducted by Marketing Media, here are the top 10 mistakes that e-commerce sites make, that cost them sales and customers.
Consumers consistently rate cost as the most significant factor when considering online purchases. The Internet provides for easy price comparison between multiple websites, so an e-commerce website should focus on offering the lowest pricing possible. Websites can highlight low pricing by including the “retail” price of items before showing the sale price, and by regularly featuring specials or sales.
- Product information
The quality and quantity of product information is also an important factor in buying decisions. According to a Marketing Media study, more than one in every eight consumers cited incomplete, nonexistent, or confusing information as a factor in buying decisions. A site’s product information must be thorough and complete, including information about colours, sizes, materials, and care.
- Shipping and handling details
A lack of upfront shipping information, including estimated shipping times and complete costs, is a frequent cause of checkout drop-off. This is especially important for e-commerce sites with international customers.
- Accurate inventory
Another shipping-related topic is stock availability. A key frustration for shoppers is to find that a specific product is out of stock and no longer available after they decided to purchase. Marketing Media recommends that e-commerce sites keep up-to-date stock information and provide options to shoppers who view products that are out of stock or in limited supply. A site may offer to contact the customer when the product is back in stock, or provide comparable substitutes.
- Pictures and video
Online shoppers look for the opportunity to gain as much information about a potential purchase as possible; multiple high-quality videos and images provide information that no text description can match. Marketing Media cited Blackberry as an excellent example of a company offering effective videos that lead to increased sales.
- Compelling copy
While the content of the product description is an important feature, compelling ad copy goes beyond details to craft a description that is appealing and engaging to the type of consumer who typically purchases that kind of product. Product descriptions should serve the same purpose as store sales professionals – to both inform and entice.
- Coupon codes and discounts
While offering coupon codes and special discounts, even for as little as 10 percent off an order, has been shown to increase sales, consumers in the study complained about the confusing process of using and entering codes . Extensive lists of exclusions and discounts that apply to either offline or online purchases, but not both, can also frustrate customers.
The loading time for each page, the time it takes to receive search results, and the time it takes to process an order can all determine a site’s success or failure. Nowadays, online shoppers are often impatient with slow-loading websites and may quickly move on.
- Site user-friendliness
An e-commerce site that is not user-friendly is likely to make more enemies than friends. Many consumers are used to shopping at large online retails with a significant number of website features. A smaller e-commerce site that does not live up to their expectations may suffer. Consumers surveyed indicate their expectations about wish lists, searching and filtering options, product comparisons, guest checkout options, and in-store pick-up.
- Site organization
An unorganized website without an easy-to-recognize navigation system is likely to turn away consumers. E-commerce websites may find it easier to organize their site like those of major online retailers, such as Amazon.
Simple areas for improvement
According to Christian Fillion, CEO of Marketing Media, e-commerce companies should focus on website improvement in three key areas:
A visually appealing, easy-to-navigate homepage is like to entice customers to shop. A homepage should have a range of features that make site navigation easier, such as a back button, a shopping cart link, and a return policy section.
Nothing kills a website quicker than broken links or missing functionalities. Regular quality assurance checks will ensure that the site remains functional for customers.
- Checkout process
More consumers are lost during the checkout process than at any other point in the product search process. A cumbersome, long, or repetitive checkout process is likely to turn customers away. E-commerce sites should make simple changes to ensure a smooth process: see that customers never have to enter the same price more than once, list shipping costs and times upfront in the process, and provide multiple payment options.
Has your e-commerce site found cost-effective ways to retain shoppers and encourage repeat customers? Share your strategies and tips in the comments section below.