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11 common e-commerce mistakes -- and how to fix them

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Sept. 4, 2014
Ecommerce experts reveal the top ecommerce blunders businesses make and what you can do to prevent or fix them.

Mistake No. 3: Unintuitive or cumbersome site navigation. "Customers will leave your site if they can't find what they want [quickly]," states Dan Hutmacher, senior digital consultant, Lyons Consulting Group, a digital agency. So be sure to make navigation -- menus -- intuitive, minimizing the number of clicks it requires for customers to find what they are looking for.

To improve navigation, review your analytics to see "where your customers are dropping off and then optimize [your ecommerce site] accordingly."

Mistake No. 4: Bad or no search capability. "Customers who use on-site search to find products are more than three times more likely to convert than customers who don't," says Andy Eades, ecommerce consultant, Elevate Web, a provider of website design and SEO. "So it's important to make sure that customers get relevant results and quickly. Many out-of-the-box systems perform poorly on search, so speak with your developers about how you can make tweaks to your existing system, or look into more advanced solutions such as solr or sphinx," he advises. "There are plugins available to integrate these search solutions into many of the most popular shopping carts at a relatively low cost."

Mistake No. 5: Poor images/photography. "When people are buying online, since they're giving up the tactile ability to pick up and hold a product and inspect it, [you need to have] great product photos," says Rick Wilson, president, Miva Merchant, a provider of ecommerce software and hosting. "It's important to show multiple angles, and if the options change the appearance, such as the color, multiple options. Also make sure the photo is big enough to zoom in on, especially with a smartphone."

Mistake No. 6: Using stock product descriptions. "The biggest mistake that ecommerce retailers make is to copy the manufacturers descriptions for the products they stock," says Mat Durham, director, Skyblu Web Design. When you do that, it makes it difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition, especially to search engines. "The solution is simple," though, he continues: "write your own product descriptions, at least for your major lines, or employ a good freelance copywriter to do it."

"Not only do product descriptions add content to your site, they're a way for customers to experience your product online too," adds Ashley Orndorff, director of Marketing for ParadoxLabs, a Web development company. "A customer cannot pick up your product and examine it on your site the same way they could in-store, a robust product description (with accompanying images) allows customers to experience and familiarize themselves with your products," she explains. "Your descriptions don't need to be as short as a tweet or as long as a novel, they just need to be descriptive. Engaging, informative product descriptions show your customers how your product will solve their problem and why it's so great."

 

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