unning an e-commerce site is not an easy task, from design to marketing to the actual sales. You might be making a mistake of thinking that once your online store is launched, it will run itself from then on, but that is never the case. Potential buyers will not just show up, and even if they do, they won’t necessarily make a purchase. Some of the frequent mistakes that e-commerce site owners tend to make are lack of SEO optimization, poor product presentation and forgetting about their mobile users. Here is a more detailed list of the most common blunders online sellers make and some ideas on how you can avoid them.

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1. Bad E-commerce Platform Choice

Picking a wrong e-commerce platform can hurt your online business from the very start. It can significantly increase your management costs, especially if neither you nor anyone on your team knows how to run the CMS you choose. Take some time to make this important decision. Would you rather have a CMS that is enterprise-oriented from the very start, such as Magento? Or would you be more comfortable with a content-oriented platform like WordPress, and use WooCommerce or a similar toolkit to gain the e-commerce functionality you will need? The key here is not only going with something you are comfortable with, but also looking at the bigger picture and deciding if the platform will still work for you as your online store grows. Keep in mind that migrating to a new platform is likely to be a major headache, so avoid this future problem by choosing the right platform from the beginning.

2. Lack of Security Features

The last thing you want is for people to doubt the trustworthiness of your Internet store. Customers have to be comfortable with giving you their financial information, and if they have even a slightest doubt about whether your payment process is secure, you can forget about making that sale. To solve the issue, make sure you have SSL certificates in place, and add popular trust icons, such as BBB and McAfree Secure, among others.

3. Hard-to-Find Contact Information

Some sites place their contact information where it can’t be easily found. This goes back to the trust issue, as customers want to be confident that they are buying from a real business. They want to be sure that there will be a real person on the other end of the line when they call your customer support. Include multiple communication channels and place contact information in several visible places around your site. This could include displaying your phone number in the top left corner of the website, and including additional details like mailing address and email in the footer.

4. Poor Product Descriptions

Some e-commerce site owners forget that online shopping experience is a lot less personal that buying things from a physical store. Your customers can’t touch the item or try it on, and they don’t have a sales person nearby to answer every question they might have. For this reason, it is essential to provide clear and highly detailed product descriptions. If you are selling clothes, include information like size, material and washing instructions. To assist the buyer even further, link a measurement chart to every product page. Be sure to post your product descriptions as text rather than part of the image, otherwise search engines won’t pick them up. Also for SEO reasons, avoid using manufacturer’s product descriptions, but always write your own. Search engines tend to penalize any sites with duplicate content.

5. Small Product Images or Not Enough Images

In order to save some space and reduce the loading time, some online stores post product images that are too small or don’t post enough images. If loading speed is an issue, you should look into upgrading to a different host or consider a dedicated hosting solution, so you don’t have to share your server with other websites. Do not sacrifice the visual side of your site, though. It’s essential to provide enough pictures of the product for the customer to get a very good idea of the item, which will significantly increase your chances of making the sale. You should also include high-resolution images that the buyers can zoom in on, allowing them to see the texture, fabrics and color details.

6. Lack of Customer Reviews

Including a customer review section might seem like a small detail, but underestimating its value is a big mistake. Most people look for reviews when they shop online, including product star ratings and the actual feedback written by other customers. Remember that product reviews also add free content and regular updates to your site, making them very valuable for better search engine ranking.

7. Complicated Checkout Process

The more pages your customers have to pass on their way to making a purchase, the more likely they are to abandon their shopping carts. Ideally, you should have one page for shipping and payment information, one for confirming the purchase and one page with a receipt and a thank you note. Combine as many pages as you can and don’t distract the buyer with other offers on their way to checkout. You should also avoid making registration a requirement. Allow people to buy without becoming a member, otherwise you are likely to lose the customers who have no time to register or are simply not willing to do so. You can always offer them to register at the end of the buying process, as part of the thank you page. Offer such perks as one-click checkout during future purchases and ability to view their buying history as a reward for becoming a member.

8. Lack of Responsive Design

A lot of people shop on their phones and tablets these days, and excluding them from your e-commerce strategy is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Your site’s design should be responsive from the very start, meaning that it should look good no matter what device or screen size one is viewing it on. While you are at it, test your website in all the popular browsers to make sure it displays equally well throughout.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.beakrstudios.com/common-e-commerce-mistakes/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-mills/the-5-biggest-mistakes-sm_b_3860970.html
http://thewebsitestore.net/six-common-e-commerce-site-mistakes/
http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2009/10/08/15-common-mistakes-in-e-commerce-design-and-how-to-avoid-them/

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