Over the past 20 years as a Web Development Agency we have built, managed or otherwise supported hundreds of eCommerce websites. These range from small “Mom & Pop” shops to clients featured on Shark Tank doing millions of dollars in sales per month.
This also means we have had a ringside seat to a number of bad ideas, some of which can easily be fixed with minimal effort.
Shopify is a great platform. It is suitable for small businesses and enterprise customers alike. However, since the barrier to entry is so low, there are also a large number of terrible stores out there.
So, in no particular order, here are the things we see or correct the most on the sites we work with.
You do not have any contact phone or address.
This one drives us nuts — stores with no discernible way to contact them or show they actually exist. Today’s shoppers are more savvy than ever before and really only want to deal with legitimate businesses. You need to build trust quickly, and websites that hide their contact information suffer accordingly.
Your mobile version looks terrible.
Google has implemented a mobile-first emphasis. This means your website must be mobile friendly or your search engine ranking will suffer.
Your products have terrible descriptions or none at all.
Your products should contain as much information as possible to help buyers feel confident they are making the right purchase. If you are a drop shipper integrating a feed then it is time to embellish your product data with your own verbiage. Dimensions, weight, materials, specifications, anything that an average buyer would need to buy something they cannot pick up and hold.
Your domain name is unmemorable, silly or just plain stupid.
If your domain name is difficult to remember, spell, pronounce or just plain sounds stupid — you will most likely not be successful. The litmus test we use with our clients goes like this:
“If you were driving down the freeway and passed a billboard with your domain name on it, would you remember it?”
Your site is filled with irrelevant images or content.
I cannot tell you how many sites we look at that bury their products below GIANT, irrelevant images. This is usually a byproduct of using images that came with the template or take up too much space by default. Take a tip from Amazon, it’s all about the products and prices with most shoppers. Stop burying the lead and hiding your products.
You have no guarantees. You set no expectations.
Guarantees are good for increasing trust. You need to communicate these at every customer touch point. These can be guarantees for satisfaction, returns or when they can expect their order. I cannot tell you how many stores do not bother to craft a well-thought-out order confirmation page. You can go a long way to increasing order satisfaction and repeat business by helping set expectations at each customer touch point. Not to mention you also head-off customer service inquiries about what happens next.
You annoy your visitors with pop-ups.
Join your newsletter? Fill out a survey? I do not even know you yet? If you annoy your visitors you will lose your visitors. If you employ an incentive like “Join our newsletter and get discounts” and do not send a discount code right away — you’ll risk losing customers who want to “wait for a code” rather than complete an order. The time to ask a customer to join your list is after you have offered something of value to them (downloads, information, freebies, etc.) or after you have completed a successful order.
You have way too much going on with your store.
Over time, many store owners fall into a trap of constantly adding new features, apps or other additions to their website in a desperate attempt to increase sales. This often leads to choice paralysis and website “bloat” as store owners keep throwing apps at their store and hope something “sticks”. Each feature you add or complex discount logic increases the chance of confusion for your users and confusion makes them leave your store. Ask yourself if you really need that pop-up + chat window + 15 tracking scripts + exit pop or anything that screams “WAIT, PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE MY STORE.”
You have no reviews.
Reviews = trust. You need to ask for them and they need to be automated and monitored for bad reviews.
Your shipping is too high.
Yes, competing with Amazon is tough, however, you need to dial in your shipping so you are not overcharging and increasing your cart abandonment rates. For those of you shipping complex or heavy items, you need to get a multi-shipper system set up quickly and run dual Fed Ex / UPS / USPS and a freight quote side by side. There’s a sweet spot where having backup freight quotes alongside ground gets the lowest price possible in front of customers.
Additionally, if you are always FOB (Free on Board) from a single location and do not use multiple geographically placed warehouses — it may be cost-prohibitive to ship to certain locations — period. Know where you can compete and put your energy there instead of trying to sell to everyone, everywhere.
Your prices are not competitive or you sell too many things.
Stop pricing based on what you think you want to make and price based on the elasticity of demand. Price beats ambiguous feel good marketing rhetoric like: “Our customer service sets us apart” or “Shop Local”. You need to focus on your niche and not try to be the next Target or Walmart or whatever superstore is popular in your area. If you cannot make money or compete with certain products, you should find other products where you can compete.
The eCommerce landscape is constantly evolving and there is a lot of money to be made out there. We could have easily made this list into 25 or 50 things and still had room to go on. The reality is that most design considerations and questions are actually business questions in the end. That is the problem that we tackle first.
Do you need to talk to someone about your store? Let’s talk. We can help.