Many retailers think an online store is the answer to all their problems – that it will expand their reach, improve their sales and increase their customer base as soon as the site goes live.
But sadly, ecommerce sites don’t fit the “if you build it, they will come” adage.

In fact, they actually require a lot of hard work and careful strategizing if you want to see success.

For this reason, many retailers find themselves disappointed with the initial returns their site brings in. It may even have them questioning if the site was worth building in the first place!
Fortunately, with most failing ecommerce sites, there are a few common problems at work. Fix these, and you could be on your way to a wildly successful online store.

1. You’re not upselling or cross-selling.

Think of your last few online shopping experiences. Did you ever see a “you might also like…” or “this goes well with…” area on the product page, in your shopping cart or during the checkout process?

Well this is called upselling and cross-selling, and it’s one of the biggest advantages that an ecommerce website has over traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
With these tools, you can take the product your customer is already interested and offer suggestions for other products that can improve their experience. It could be for battery packs that are necessary for the product’s operation, accessories that might complete the outfit, or just other, similar products that the customer would like.
Regardless of how you choose to do it, upselling and cross-selling can allow you to double, sometimes even triple the amount a customer spends on your site – and it only takes a few seconds.

2. You forgot to optimize your product descriptions and category pages.

Like any website, if you want to see search engine traction for your online store, you have to get to optimizing. Pick a few keywords, work them into your web content and Meta tags, and build out a blog to get your brand noticed by search engines. Be extra careful to optimize each and every product page and category page, too, as these are easily the highest-converting pages when it comes to search.

Think of it this way: if a person searches for “red blouse,” and gets two results – one for your homepage and one for a category page of red tops – which one do you think is more likely to convert into a sale? The category page for sure. It requires a lot less work on the user’s part, and it’s given them what they want, when they want it – a major key to ecommerce success.
You’ll want to work your keywords into each product description (maybe even into the product name if you can), and include them in the titles and Meta descriptions of your product and category pages, too. If there’s room, include a small description on each category page, and work a related keyword or two in there as well.

3. You haven’t secured your site.

Security is a huge worry among online shoppers, especially with the prevalence of identity theft in our society. Because of this, many shoppers are hesitant to put in their personal information and address – let alone their credit card number – into a new or unknown website. In fact, according to DigiCert, 25 percent of users will actually stop an online purchase if they have a security concern.

You can circumvent this problem by installing an SSL, or secure socket layer, on your website. This encrypts the customer’s data and information so that it can’t be intercepted during transmission, and it gives your website an “HTTPS” address, which automatically shows them it’s secure and safe to use.
If you haven’t set your online store up with SSL yet, I’d recommend hopping on that ASAP. The longer you wait, the more sales you’ll likely lose out on.

4. You’ve made checkout too complicated.
One of the biggest reasons people shop online is because it’s easier than shopping person. You don’t have to drive there or deal with traffic, you don’t have to wait in line, and you don’t have to brave crowds or talkative cashiers.

Unfortunately, too many online stores just don’t understand this premise, and they make shopping a burden for customers – even on the web. They have slow loading pages, hard-to-understand navigation and, worst of all, a long and lengthy checkout process that’s just not convenient.
The truth of the matter is, if you want to secure a sale, you need to make checking out as easy as humanly possible. You want that customer to put in the minimal amount of information, so they can get their product ordered and finalized in seconds. You don’t want to give them a chance to rethink their purchase, get distracted or put it off til later, do you?
Take steps to streamline your checkout process. Create what’s called a “one-page” checkout, and cut down on the number of pages and data areas the customer has to fill out. Make “buy now” and “checkout” buttons clear and easy to find, and shrink the checkout process to get customers in and out the door as quickly as you can. Your sales will thank you for it.

5. Your photography’s not up to snuff.

Low quality, boring or even just stock photos of your products aren’t enough – at least not if you want to make a sale. As online shoppers are unable to touch, feel, try on or otherwise interact with the products they’re browsing, they rely heavily on images to help them make their purchasing decision.
With great, high-quality images to look at, they’re more likely to be confident in the product’s quality and thus make the purchase. If there are only sloppy, out-of-focus or even just boring photos to consider, you can bet they’ll be looking elsewhere for what they need.
If you’ve got an online store, consider working with a professional photographer on each and every product you launch. It may cost you a little up front, but the returns will be incrementally higher in the long run thanks to their work.

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Author Info

Brad Parnell
Founder & CEO

Brad is the Founder & CEO of Steadfast Creative, leading the team in exploring new ways to solve creative problems and bringing direction and vision for the company. His passion is building relationships, providing solutions and empowering his team to send new ideas out into the world. With over 10 years of agency experience serving local and national brands, he is focused on results for his clients and team. Outside of  work, Brad serves on the board of directors at his local Chamber of Commerce and loves giving back to the community and spending time with his wife and kids.