Fixing Typical eCommerce Problems
eCommerce opens up the smallest business to the global market. The prospects excite entrepreneurs who dream of maximizing their companies' exposure. But it takes more than merely owning a site to make this dream a reality. Customers expect certain standards from online retailers. They want to trust them with their most private account information. A company's disruption of this trust inevitably leads to website abandonment. Avoid many problems ecommerce businesses face by heeding principles that create a convenient, safe, and pleasant shopping environment for consumers.
Poor shopping cart product descriptions and layout can be confusing for potential buyers and is one of a series of common eCommerce problems that online retailers can make for themselves. Often the answers include better site design, better product descritpions, adding or improving photographs to make them more interesting and relevant, testing and improving the checkout process among others.
The Cornerstone To Avoiding eCommerce Problems: Keeping It Convenient
People shop online for convenience. Your website must meet efficiency standards for potential customers to seriously consider your products and services. From clumsy navigation to those annoying pop-ups and banner ads, there are plenty of ecommerce problems that deter site visitors.
Poor Site Design
One ecommerce problem companies struggle with is first impressions. Customers need organized and clearly-defined categories for smooth navigation. Avoid categories that are either so specific that barely any products fit into them or so general that the customers cannot find what they are looking for.
Don't overwhelm visitors with flashy graphics or animations that take time to download. (While the days of dial up connections are fast disappearing, there are still customers who use these slower connections, plus if your site is not optimized for mobile users, they too will abandon becuse of slow pages loads.)Another key element is to make your homepage product-centered if the site itself has a product focus.
Inadequate Search Engine Quality
An online store should provide customers with quick selections of items they may be interested in. Offer a variety of search options and filters (by brand, price, style, model, etc.). Allow users to organize results by popularity, reviews, or price. Test your search capability to make sure that the right products are being returned and that internal categorizations are correct.
Vague Product Descriptions and Limited Photo Support
Online stores cannot provide customers with the irreplaceable option to touch, manipulate, or try on a product before purchasing it; therefore, product descriptions are paramount. One ecommerce problem occurs when a company fails to communicate product features that potential customers are interested in. Include size, brand, dimensions, weight, care instructions, ideas for use, material type information, etc. Make customers feel confident about the products even though they cannot touch them.
Additionally, tiny images distance the customer from the product. If product layout does not permit larger photos, why not optimize desktop image quality with pictures that enlarge to 1024x768 pixels when "moused over." Provide images from several different angles, in a variety of colors and styles where appropriate. Look at highly successful retailers like Amazon.com, who you know have the site traffic volume that allows testing even the tiniest details to improve product conversion as models for what can work for your site.Amazon has slayed this ecommerce problem by predicting consumer interests and answering their questions in product descriptions. Short but effective product descriptions, enticing photographs, full but not crowded page layout, more detail for very interested shoppers (For example, they also provide over fifty different Kindle images.) and product "affinity" and add on programs like their Kindle Lending Library and accessory offers all work to create a tremendously attractive buyer experience, and higher conversion rate.
No Product Auxiliaries
Major ecommerce sites typically offer features such as related product listings, reviews, ratings, and company blogs. A related product feature entices buyers to consider purchasing items they hadn't initially searched for. People also expect the option to read product reviews. These ratings and comments are often more persuasive than the best-written product description. Finally, updated business blogs can notify visitors about product news, giveaways, and special contests, or feature customer testimonials. These additions will curb many of your ecommerce problems caused by a lack of information depth and confidence building.
Poor Shopping Cart Design
Expedite the check-out process with easy-to-navigate shopping cart platforms like Ultracart. Your shopping cart design should include the ability to update a cart without leaving a page, edit quantities, and preview shipping charges.
Don't give customers a chance to reconsider their purchases. If the payment process confuses them, they are likely to abandon your site. Speed up the check-out process by using no more than three pages. On one page, visitors can review their shopping carts and enter shipping and payment information. On a second page, they can confirm their orders. The final page is a sale confirmation thanking them for their purchases.
Ultracart solves Custom checkout pages for third party shopping carts keep continuity for the user, building confidence in the shopping experience. Additional simplicity like the single page checkout above created by UltraCart's Pro Services help this merchant lower potential shopping cart abandoment, an exceedingly common eCommerce problem. Note the strategic placement of trust symbols and the use of believable testinominals (using actual photo and person's name) to further build confidence, as well as the free trial offer to increaese conversions.
Limited Payment Options
Nowadays if you don't offer a variety of payment options, you won't gain credibility with your clients. Publicize that customers can pay with all major credit cards, their PayPal accounts, or even checks and money orders.
Trust Problems: eCommerce Customer Service Essentials
Trust is an important factor in any business relationship, but even more crucial for ecommerce vendors. Consumers maintain a real apprehension with how the web handles their personal information. Minimize ecommerce trust problems by avoiding these errors:
Requiring Registration to Make a Purchase
Sites that don't offer guest check-outs slow down an online purchase. They make visitors ask, "Why is registration necessary?" Anything that makes a consumer question a company's practices is a blow to the trust relationship between producer and consumer.
Be upfront with shipping costs or any extra fees. You don't want an incensed customer at check-out. He or she may abandon the purchase or give your company poor reviews. A critical feature of the best eCommerce sites, is to offer a shipping estimate before the user provides any credit card information.
Underperforming Sales Confirmation Page
A simple "Thank you for your purchase" may sound polite, but your confirmation page could do much more to tighten your relationship with a customer. Provide detailed information here about tracking the order. Explain that customers will receive email notifications regarding purchase processing and shipment. List your cancellation and exchange policies, a link to your FAQs page, and answers to any other question a customer might have immediately after a purchase. Of course, this is also a traditional place for upsells/cross-sells, refer a friend promotions, etc. but resist the temptation to offer too many after sale pitches. Another common eCommerce problem is not leading a completed sale to a potential next sale and/or ensuring the product is not returned. In this case, offering links to pages that may help them feel better about their sale but also product tracking information.
Hidden or Nonexistent FAQs, Policies Sheets, or Feedback Forms
Avoid ecommerce problems with consumers by arming them with as much information as possible. This wards off unnecessary phone calls and shows your clients that you wish to be transparent and truly serve their interests. Provide multiple ways to contact you, with a "contact us" link accessible on all webpages. Let your customers know that you wish to hear from them and provide a ticket system to handle all inquiries.
Reactive Rather Than Proactive Customer Service Approach
Don't wait to hear from your customers. Show them you are interested in their opinions. Ask for feedback, and offer special deals and discounts to repeat customers.
Is It Working? : Evaluate Your eCommerce Marketing Plan For Any eCommerce Problems
A quality ecommerce platform regularly stores sales data and free text searches for later analysis. With this data, companies can determine which items are being put in baskets and which ones are actually selling. Knowing information about both visitors who purchase items and those who don't helps companies implement more effective marketing plans.
Visit competitors' websites. What catches your eye? Do they optimize text size or font color to hook visitors? Perhaps their blogs take advantage of SEO practices and invite a regular conversation between businesses and consumers. Many ecommerce problems will vanish by embracing a quality customer service plan that reaps positive referrals.