Ecommerce mistakes

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems available, especially for ecommerce sites. It offers enormous customizability in terms of design and functionality, but that flexibility also leaves a lot of room to make mistakes.

As the makers of a top selling Stripe payments plugin for WordPress, we get to see a lot of ecommerce sites. Too often we run across ecommerce stores that make critical mistakes – errors that cost them conversions and sales.

In this article, we’d like to lay out the top ecommerce mistakes we see all the time. If you’re making any of these errors, fix them quickly to boost your website engagement and bottom line.

If you’re making any of these errors, fix them quickly to boost your website engagement and bottom line. Click To Tweet
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1. Not Using High-Quality Product Images

If you take a look at the most successful ecommerce stores, you’ll notice they all use tons of high-quality photos. In fact, the best stores publish a bank of photos for each product, including multiple angles, different positions, and 360-degree views. Basically, you want to give them everything they need to make buying decisions.

This doesn’t just apply to physical products. It’s important to use carefully selected imagery for services as well. These help shoppers connect with your offerings on an emotional level. Ultimately, high-quality images increase your conversions.

Instead of downloading low-quality stock photos, publishing whatever you can capture with your camera phone, or using whatever the manufacturer supplied, invest some time and money into good quality photos. Don’t be afraid of taking your own photos. There are several free editing software options you can play with to fix any errors.

2. Not Backing Up Your Website

It’s easy to assume that nothing bad will ever happen to your website. “Nobody wants to hack my site,” you might tell yourself. While it’s true that hackers don’t usually target small and new ecommerce sites, it doesn’t mean you are safe.

There are lots of ways you could lose your website data. There might be a problem on your host’s end. One of your WordPress plugins may have a security vulnerability that hackers exploit. Or you might make a mistake yourself that crashes the website.

The solution is simple: Install a WordPress plugin that creates automated backups of your website. Set an interval you like, but we recommend backing up at least weekly. This way you’ll always have a recent version of your website to restore if something bad happens.

3. Failing to Update Your Plugins

Like many WordPress users, you probably have a dozen plugins installed to extend the functionality of your website. Your plugins will need to be updated from time to time. If you forget to update your plugins, they will eventually break and become useless. In some cases, a broken plugin could break other elements of your website.

WordPress makes updating easy. Click Updates on the left side of your dashboard. WordPress will show you a list of everything you should update. Click each item to update.

Ecommerce mistakes

4. Failing to Consider Shipping and Other Fees

You probably know that buyers prefer free shipping. But it isn’t free for you. You have to roll that cost into the price of your product.

It’s the same with other fees, as well. You can’t avoid the 2.9% transaction fee you pay to your payment processor, so you have to transfer it to the customer.

Depending on what you sell, you may have to pay other fees as well. Failing to account for these costs can erode your profit margin.

Take a moment to consider the true cost to deliver your products and services. Consider the entire cost to make the product or provide the service (including your time), packaging and shipping costs, taxes, and any fees.

Furthermore, consider the costs you endure that aren’t based on sales. For instance, that $15/month software tool you pay for doesn’t divide evenly into your sales, but it’s still a cost you need to account for in your prices.

5. Not Monitoring the Reviews

Reviews are an important part of the ecommerce experience. Users use reviews to decide whether to make a purchase. Generally speaking, more positive reviews means more conversions, so it’s smart to encourage customers to leave their thoughts.

But you have to review their reviews. If you let them flow in without oversight, customers may leave comments that aren’t representative of your products.

Don’t misunderstand us: We are not suggesting that you delete negative reviews. Bad reviews can actually help by making your business seem authentic. But sometimes a customer will leave a review that’s so off-the-walls inappropriate that you have to remove it.

For example, one retailer we know had a customer leave a terrible, 0-star review on a product page, but their comment referred to a product the retailer didn’t sell. Somehow the customer became confused, so the review had to go.

It may be time-consuming, but it’s important to read every review that comes in. Besides, they may have lots of valuable feedback.

6. Not Providing Transactional Emails

Transactional emails are messages like order confirmations, fulfillment updates, shipping confirmations, and anything else that relates to their order or account. These are critical tools to keep your customers informed at scale and to ease their natural anxiety over making an online purchase.

Ecommerce mistakes

If you fail to provide these, customers will ask lots of questions. They’ll want receipts and frequent updates. If they don’t hear from you at least once after the purchase, they’ll assume you scammed them out of their money.

Fortunately, most ecommerce platforms, payment plugins, and payment processors provide these. Just make sure they are configured properly.

7. Short and Generic Product/Service Descriptions

Your descriptions are where you get the best chance to make a case for your products and services. By the time a potential customer is reading your description, there’s a good chance they’ll make a purchase, so you need to spend some time here.

Short descriptions that fail to answer readers’ questions are extremely common on ecommerce sites, but they’re easy to fix. Yes, it’s important to lay out the basic information: size, colors, dimensions, uses, etc. But you should also use your copy to connect with the customer.

Focus on the benefits of your products and services in your descriptions. Explain why the product/service is right for them. Tell a story about how their lives will be better after they buy. Don’t be afraid to add helpful images and videos.

Furthermore, update your descriptions over time as you learn more about your customers. If several customers ask about your delivery times, for example, add a note in your product/service descriptions to preemptively answer this question.

8. Providing a Complex Checkout Process

Inevitably, you’ll lose some users during your checkout process, but it’s important to keep that number as low as possible. If your checkout process is complex or hard to understand, you’re sure to lose some customers who would otherwise happily complete their purchase.

How do you keep your checkout process simple? By removing friction. Friction includes obstacles, tasks, or problems that stand between your customer and clicking that “Place Order” button. For instance, a customer might experience friction if they can’t find the answer to a critical question.

Here are some ways to simplify your checkout process:

  • Reduce the number of pages (make it one page if you can).
  • Reduce the number of fields you ask customers to complete.
  • Consider your customers’ objections and address them early.
  • Include a visual progress indicator.
  • Enable a “guest checkout” option.
  • Select “same as billing address” by default
  • Offer alternative payment methods

Your checkout process will depend on the tools and plugins you’re using. Some lock you into a poor checkout process. Others give you some customization options. With WP Simple Pay, checkout is simple, whether you use an embedded form, an overlay form, or Stripe checkout. We also offer alternative payment methods so your customers can always pay their preferred way.

Ecommerce mistakes

9. Not Offering Contact Information

Imagine you’re about to make a purchase, but you have an important question. There’s no email address or form on the site to contact anyone. If you’re like most people, you decide not to take the risk. You probably just move on to another provider.

In fact, some customers see a lack of contact information as distrustful, even if they don’t want to contact you. They assume you’re hiding something. If there’s a problem with their purchase, they won’t have a way to get a hold of you.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix. Create a contact page on your website and publish your phone number, email address, or a contact form. It also helps to list contact information in your website footer so it’s available on every page, as well as somewhere in the checkout process.

Jump on These Quick Wins

If you’re making any of these mistakes on your ecommerce site, be sure to fix them quickly. They could represent a substantial boost to your conversions and income.