The global e-commerce market was worth over $2.3 trillion by the end of 2017, but that number is forecast to nearly double by 2021 to almost $4.9 trillion. As much as e-retailers would hope that industry growth resulted in more store revenue, if anything, the opposite is true.
Yes, more people gaining access to e-commerce through mobile phones and an increasing amount of young, digital-minded buyers among them mean stable industry growth for years to come far beyond 2021. However, flourishing ecosystems are competitive. Everyone can’t survive, especially as more brands join the ranks.
That’s why it’s important to continually look for ways to grow revenue, or at the least, not lose it. If only it were that simple, though. Online shoppers expect a lot these days, and there are plenty of brands that can offer it. If you’ve recently gotten into the e-commerce industry and are still unsure of what a well-functioning e-commerce site looks like, steer clear of these six revenue killers.
Lack of Transparent Shipping Policy
It’s no secret that most consumers expect either timely or free shipping, and in many cases, it’s both. But for many independent e-commerce brands, especially those without evolved logistics infrastructure, offering free and two-day shipping impacts margins too severely without product prices needing to be raised. Many brands can’t afford to compete with Amazon-fueled trends. This is why it’s important to be transparent about shipping at the least.
Some stores, thinking they’ll turn customers off if they announce shipping costs from the start, wait until the last checkout screen to list shipping prices. This frustrates shoppers more than anything. The main contributor to cart abandonment rates is expensive shipping, but if the shipping costs and policy were communicated to shoppers before they started shopping, abandonment rates wouldn’t range from 60–80 percent, settling at around 70 percent.
Complicated Checkout Process
While the primary reason that drives cart abandonment is expensive shipping, complicated checkout processes are common customer complaints as well. In fact, they’re the second-most-common abandonment factor. A big part of the performance of your checkout page will depend on site hosting (we’ll get to that later), but a few things can determine whether customers finish their order or get fed up and leave. Even though you want customer data and to promote loyalty, give customers the option to check out as a guest. Allow them to duplicate forms by checking a box. Make it clear which fields are mandatory, and don’t configure forms to reset if the customer misses misenters in a mandatory field. Displaying trust badges on your checkout screen won’t simplify anything, but it might provide a safety backing in the form of assurance to customers who might be unimpressed by some other aspect of your checkout experience.
Confusing Website Design
Every e-commerce store is different so it can be tricky to decide on the ideal store design. Stores that sell in niches with a lot of accessories and product variations might opt for busier pages that display a lot of product listings. A brand that only sells a few products, and ones exclusive to their brand, would probably want a more minimal, clean-looking site design that focuses attention on just a few details. You won’t know what the best strategy is for your e-commerce store unless you pick something and test other navigations against it. To measure the effectiveness of different designs, pay attention to engagement metrics like bounce rate, time on page and pages per session between both desktop and mobile devices.
Not Replying to Guest Reviews
Shipping delays, double charges, slow customer service responsiveness–whatever the case, lousy customer reviews happen. And contrary to popular belief, they don’t have to hurt your bottom line. However, if you’re not bothering to address your negative reviews, you’ll send an even bigger negative sign to customers that you don’t care about the quality of their experience. With the weight of social proof at an all-time high, you can turn negative reviews into sales-generation assets. When you reply to reviews, it’s important to illustrate in your answer that the complaint was either incorrect, an anomaly, or otherwise resolved. This assures prospective consumers that any issues they may experience will be promptly handled. It also can save brand credibility or a sale by highlighting a review as incorrect or update review readers that a prior issue is resolved.
Unreliable Site Hosting
E-commerce brands obsess over myriad business details, but it’s often the shortsighted early choices that do them harm. Before a site is designed, any product mockups sourced or customer acquisition strategies outlined, a website needs to be hosted. Some e-commerce beginners might choose a less-expensive hosting option, — the vision of a lean business model tunneling their perspective. But in the fortunate event, a store becomes popular and grows their traffic, a budget site-hosting service won’t be able to keep up.
This is known as downtime, and it’s one of the most direct revenue killers an e-commerce store can commit. When users can’t access your site, you’re guaranteed not to have any sales. Bad site hosts not only kill a store’s business through site downtime but also by slow page loading. Every second a user waits for a page of yours to load increases the chances that they bounce. Many of these visitors will never come back. Invest in a quality website host that offers industry-competitive uptime rates and 24/7 support; few investments are more critical to an online business.
Inadequate Product Pages
Whether they buy something or not, people love to comparison shop online. Product pages are the equivalent of the most unobtrusive sales representative in a brick-and-mortar retail outlet. Shoppers want info without feeling pressured to buy.
When you put effort into your product pages with complete product specifications and thoughtful organization, as well as showcase customer reviews, FAQs and high-resolution product images and tutorial videos, you’ll enhance customers’ browsing experience. If your product pages offer a more high-quality and informative shopping experience than stores that sell an overlap of products, which store do you think the customer will eventually purchase from? Product pages contribute to every stage of the customer journey. Focus on making yours awesome.
The plethora of moving details that e-commerce businesses must stay on top of necessitates mistakes. In some respects, it’s wiser to jump in and experiment versus agonize over decisions since either strategy will result in errors in the beginning. That doesn’t mean some oversights can’t reduce your bottom line significantly, though. Ensure that your brand excels in each area above to give your business the best chance to turn visitors into repeat customers.