5 reasons your E-commerce site might fail

Author -  Allan Kent [Guest]

If you’re going to go to the trouble of selling your services or products online, you’d presumably want it to go as well as possible wouldn’t you? We see many E Commerce sites that are doomed to failure from the outset. If you want to avoid that happening to you – beware these all too common mistakes!

  1. Poor or limited Product information. If you’re relying on your website to make the sale, you need to give it the tools to do its job – i.e. good product information. Essentially, this information should replicate the information a good sales person would be giving out to a customer in the shop.
    • The image(s) need to be high quality and show as much detail as possible - image enlargement or zoom is particularly effective.
    • Information needs to be in plain English – avoid the use of jargon or being too technical, especially in the initial description.
    • The information needs to be as practical as possible and answer typical customer questions such as – ‘does it come in different colours/sizes, how long do the batteries last, can I buy replacement ….’s’ etc
    • Technical information also needs to be shown, especially for more complex items.
  2. Lack of visible and immediate support. If you’re asking your customers to buy from you remotely, the least you can do is offer support should they have any concerns or difficulties. Some suggestions in this area include:
    • Telephone numbers, ideally FREE numbers, positioned so that they are easy to find. This is especially  important at the product and check out stages of the purchasing process.
    • A link to FAQ’s, again positioned at potential sticking points such as product and checkout.
    • Have a defined support process in place in the company and be sure that staff and customers are fully aware of it. This should include for example how long it will take to answer an emailed query, what times customer support staff are personally available etc. 
    • Having clear, unambiguous and promoted policies in place regarding deliveries (times, drop offs, areas serviced), refunds and returns, in store collections etc.
  3. Long or Complicated Checkout process. This would probably be one of the main frustrations with online shopping and if your checkout process is too long or difficult, the tendency of the shopper to give up is huge! So what can be done to improve matters?
    • Tell the shopper in advance how many stages in the checkout process and keep them advised where they are in that process.
    • If the shopper has missed out an important field(s), clearly tell them what field(s) needs to be completed, and don’t wipe out the information they’ve already completed.
    • Be sure to show the shopping cart contents and the total price throughout the process.
  4. Insisting that shoppers register before they can buy. This can be another major turnoff, especially if the shopper feels they might only buy from you once. It’s much better to allow them to complete the check out process, give them a good experience, and then invite them after, the business has been done, to register as it will make shopping even easier next time.
  5. Lack of Payment Options. Not everyone has access to a credit card for example, so ensure you offer alternative payment methods, e.g. internet bank transfers, Pay Pal etc. Certain target audiences are particularly prone to this, for example under 18’s.

There are plenty of other factors involved in running a successful E Commerce site, but these would almost certainly be the 5 most common mistakes, and probably the easiest to put right. Have a look at your own site, from a shoppers point of view and see how you fare in these areas!

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