If you want to own a business with the potential for rapid growth, e-commerce is definitely the way to go. Selling online is the best way to expose your products to the widest possible audience – and in many cases, an online business’s potential customer base spans the entire globe.
When people enter the world of e-commerce for the first time, though, they’re often surprised to discover that the level of competition is much higher than they had initially anticipated. When you run a local business, you’re only competing against other companies in your immediate area. When you sell products online, though, you’re competing against every other company in your nation – perhaps in the entire world – that offers products or services similar to yours.
Faced with the realisation that selling products online isn’t a path to quick riches, many new owners of e-commerce sites give up too soon. Others try to take shortcuts in an effort to boost revenue quickly. Both of those are huge mistakes because any e-commerce website can ultimately be successful if you’re willing to do the work. There’s no easy path to revenue, though; running an e-commerce business is truly a long game.
If you want your online business to be as successful as it can be, don’t make these four critical e-commerce mistakes.
Using an Unhelpful Navigation Structure
Your website’s first job is to be your business’s virtual salesperson. Your website is there to show potential customers what you’re offering and to help them find what they need. For your site to do those two things effectively, your products need to be organised in a way that makes sense to customers and allows them to shop their way.
Suppose, for instance, that your website sells doghouses. Maybe you’re currently sorting them by their manufacturers, because that’s what makes sense to you from a business standpoint. It may not make sense to your customers, though – they might be more likely to search by material and colour. Alternatively, suppose you run a vape shop like The Vape Life. Customers might want to search for e-liquids using the names of the manufacturers, but they might also want to narrow their searches further by looking for specific nicotine strengths and flavour notes.
Allowing customers to search for products using multiple criteria requires a lot of work on your part, but the only way to be successful is by ensuring that customers can shop in the way they want.
Using Copied Product Description Text
Does your website sell a wide variety of different products? If so, you probably encountered a bit of an issue when it was time to add those products to your website because every product on an e-commerce website always requires a text description. How else can people know what they’re buying?
When you stop to think about the number of words that you’ll need to type in order to add hundreds of products to your site, though, you’ll quickly realise that doing the work yourself would require days and days of typing. What business owner has that amount of time?
Faced with the realities of such a project, many new e-commerce business owners decide to cut corners by searching for the products online and copying those products’ text descriptions from other sites. They assume that customers just need to know what the products are, and the text isn’t important otherwise.
The problem, though, is that your website’s product description text is extremely important because explaining what the products are actually isn’t the text’s primary job. Its primary job is to bring potential customers to your website from search engines – and your product descriptions won’t do that job if you’re using text that’s already in Google’s index.
Google’s main job is to help users find relevant results for their searches – and there’s no reason why a product page on your website with copied text would be more relevant for any search than the original product page from which you took that text. As long as the product descriptions on your website are copied from other sources, you’ll never receive any organic traffic.
Not Using Your Blog to Its Fullest Potential
One of the things you’re guaranteed to see when you search online for advice about running an e-commerce site is that having a blog will help you get more traffic. If you’re not used to operating a website, though, you’re likely to go about things in the wrong way. Your temptation will be to add as much commercial content to the blog as you possibly can – things like product reviews and best-of lists – because those are the types of articles that help people find products to buy.
The problem with filling your blog with commercial content, however, is that every other e-commerce site in your industry is doing exactly the same thing – and their sites are all better established than yours. One of the reasons why it’s so hard to get product pages to rank well on Google when your website is new is because there’s so much competition for those search terms. Until your business is better known – and until you have more links from other sites – you’re not going to rank well for those terms. You’ll have the same problem if you’re targeting commercial search terms when writing blog content.
If you want your blog to be a solid contributor to your traffic numbers when your site is new, you need to write articles targeting informational search terms rather than commercial terms. Instead of writing articles that advise people to buy certain products, try to write articles that help people solve problems and have better experiences with the products they already own. Informational searches have less competition, and you’ll have a chance to rank for those terms if you write high-quality content.
Failing to Capture Visitors’ Contact Information
There are few things more frustrating than looking at your website’s traffic metrics and seeing that a significant number of visitors are leaving your site without buying anything. The way to alleviate that frustration – and to help your blog’s informational content make a bigger contribution to your bottom line – is by doing everything possible to convince visitors to give you their contact information before they leave. You can do that by starting an email marketing list.
Your e-commerce website will hardly be the first in the world to use a mailing list. In fact, there’s a good chance that you see many mailing list invitations whenever you shop for products online. There’s also a good chance that you’ve given your email address to very few of those websites. Getting people to sign up for a mailing list isn’t easy, but you can encourage people to subscribe by offering an incentive such as a coupon code or a monthly product giveaway.
Once your mailing list begins to grow, it can be a significant contributor to revenue. It allows you to stay in touch with people who haven’t purchased from you yet and may encourage them to eventually become customers. A mailing list can also be a tremendous asset to your business during times when your search engine rankings aren’t doing as well as you’d like.