Have you ever been shopping in a brick and mortar store and—despite loving the products you see—you leave without making a purchase?
Maybe the staff was rude or inattentive, or the store was unkempt and frowsy. It might even be because you just can’t find something in your size. It’s a shame for the store owner, because these are all easily correctable mistakes.
Now think about your e-commerce site. What does it look like from a customer’s perspective? Online stores are not immune to these same issues and more.
Mistakes happen, but errors with your online store will cost you money as customers abandon their efforts and you lose sales. There are a lot of missteps that even the most experienced e-store owners can make.
Here are three of the most common we’ve seen over the years, AND and how you can avoid them.
A poor UX, or user experience, is one of the most common mistakes you find on an e-commerce site. A customer’s path to purchase should be clear and easy to follow with as few interruptions as possible. It’s your job as the seller to reduce as much friction as possible.
Whether it’s a pop up that must be clicked away, a site that’s not mobile responsive, or contact information that’s obscure or inaccurate, something is making your would-be customer’s experience frustrating—so they leave.
(If you’ve ever screamed, “WHY are you making this so difficult, I am TRYING to GIVE YOU MONEY! How is this possible?!” at the screen, you’ll understand this exact problem.)
How do you fix it?
First, you need to identify why your customers are leaving. You can start by taking a look at the data in your Google Analytics. What is the last page customers look at before going elsewhere?
This analysis might help you see what’s happening from their perspective. Take a look at the last page they are on, and review what’s stopping the flow from initial visit to purchase.
If you aren’t sure, consider hiring a firm (us, if you want) to analyze your UX. An outside eye can look at your site much more objectively and help you see where the roadblocks are.
Secondly, take a look at your checkout process. How many pages is it? How much information are you demanding before they can complete their purchase?
Lastly, make sure that your code is optimized for mobile. While this shouldn’t be an issue if you use Shopify and one of their approved themes, if you’re using a homebrew site, the code may need to be updated. More than half of most web traffic comes from mobile, so if your site isn’t displaying correctly—ding ding ding!
There are dozens of other potential issues with your UX that might be irritating your visitors, but these are the most commonly encountered. If you’d like us to take a look at what’s dragging you down, drop us a line here.
Poor or Inconsistent Branding
Branding is how you communicate what you want your customers to feel about you and your product. Buyers develop emotional connections to brands, and that connection can be vital in developing repeat clientele and loyalty-driven sales.
What makes your widget better than a similar widget from another shop? Why is your company better than a competitor? Are you more helpful, more knowledgeable, or more socially conscious?
Shoddy branding can be as simple as misguided color choices. Did you know that research has shown that 60% of consumers said that color is a primary factor in why they chose a specific car? Color is an easily-applied reflection of a customer’s personal style and one of the most recognizable brand markers—think of Tiffany blue or the red soles of Christian Louboutin shoes.
Not only is it essential to choose a palette that differentiates you from your competitors, you also need to pick one that speaks to your customers as well. Researching the right colors and knowing how they appeal to your customers can dramatically improve how your target audience perceives you.
How do you fix it?
Here are 3 quick things you should review to make sure your brand is on point:
Does your e-store have a blog? If not, consider starting one. A blog is one of the best ways of reaching your customers and connecting with them on subjects they’re interested in.
The best blogs don’t restrict themselves to the written word either. Short-form video content that can be consumed in under a minute is a great way to capture the mobile market.
Unique Value Proposition
One of the key facets of your website and branding is taking advantage of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Being able to leverage this concept is how you tell your customers what makes you different. Without clearly identifying your UVP, you can’t effectively brand yourself.
Consider how Hefty uses the “Hefty, Hefty, Hefty…” line to create a UVP from other “Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy!” competitors.
Chances are we didn’t even have to provide the second part, because you already heard it in your head!
Once you have your UVP solidified, you can design your website to take advantage of it, boldly and above the fold. You’ll also use your UVP to inform other marketing efforts, such as channels, imagery, and copy.
Social media is one of the valuable branding tools out there. Using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to interact with your customer base is a great way to connect people with your brand and explain what you represent.
As a great example, look at the Wendy’s Twitter circa 2017. One simple Twitter response changed how people thought about Wendy’s, and reestablished their brand as an irreverent, snarky, modern fast-food restaurant.
Lax Customer Support
When discussing mistakes that e-commerce owners make, poor customer support is one of the biggest—and the most consistently challenging. It’s easy to get busy running day-to-day operations and let bug reports and customer complaints fall to the wayside as a result. After all, getting shipments out for existing sales is important!
BUT—remember that word of mouth is a highly effective advertising method. Unfortunately for you, negative word of mouth spreads quicker than anything else, especially in today’s world of social media, Yelp, and Google Reviews.
How do you fix it?
During peak periods, such as the holiday shopping period or the post-Christmas return period, it may be worth it to hire a freelance customer support specialist. This individual can watch your feedback and respond accordingly, and support your existing social media person if you have one. They would also be responsible for documenting negative UX or UI experiences that you can then review with your web team.
You may also consider increasing your channels of communication. Is there a live chat feature on your site that can be easily managed? Do you offer phone and email support? What about Twitter DMs and Facebook Messaging? Wherever your customers are looking for you, make sure you’re there.
Above all, the most crucial facet of excellent customer support is response time. Aim to respond to customer issues within 24 hours. When it comes to responding to feedback, both negative and positive, the faster the better.
If you can’t, program an auto-response that gives customers an accurate expectation of when they can hear from you. For example, if they submit a concern through a form on your website, they should automatically get an email confirming that their ticket has been received along with a message stating, “We strive to respond to all customer concerns within 2 business days.”
(Editor’s Note: Make sure that whatever timeline you’re setting up, it’s REASONABLE. I recently became embroiled in a customer service dispute with a car wash company [of all things] and was informed I would hear back from a customer service agent “with 48 business hours.”
If you’re counting, if they’re basing that estimate on an 8-hour workday, that’s SIX BUSINESS DAYS! Six! That’s over a week just to get an initial response back. Well—joke’s on them; I’m not giving up just because their first line of defense is an annoyingly long wait time in a fast-paced world. Their approach to customer service, however, has lost them my business forever. End rant.)
Listen, mistakes happen, especially in the world of e-commerce where everyone is trying to move at breakneck speed. What’s important is how quickly and correctly you can respond to them, so they don’t affect your bottom line for long.
Sometimes it’s challenging to identify what exactly is going wrong, especially when you’re so close. If you want to improve and need help pinpointing potential roadblocks or pitfalls in your e-store, let the Tako team help. Reach out to us right here, and we’ll work together to help you define areas of opportunity and how to leverage them to achieve your goals.