Top 10 Ecommerce Store Mistakes: Hey, guys, we are with Printful’s marketing team so we’ve been with Printful for a few years now and over the course of this time we have had the pleasure to work with a lot of really inspiring and fascinating store owners and over this time we’ve noticed that a lot of people are doing really great things for their stores, but we’ve also regularly noticed a lot of don’ts or mistakes that we see people doing as well that come up pretty frequently.
So in this post, we want to talk about some of these 10 mistakes that you’re doing in your online store and how you can fix them, so you can you sell more and grow your store even more. Let’s get started! Mistake number one – store isn’t optimized for mobile. Whatever it is that we’re looking on the internet we’re used to looking at on a big screen on our laptops or whatever, but as soon as you put it on a smaller screen – whole another story. Make sure that it’s optimized for mobile. It’s important because people are becoming more and more used to shopping on their mobile phones. Almost 40% of all eCommerce purchases during the 2018 holiday season happened on a smartphone. So this isn’t a trend that’s going away.
It’s just gonna get more and more popular and more and more people are gonna shop on mobile. One good way how to test if your site is mobile-friendly is to check… What’s it called again? “Google mobile-friendly test”. You plug in your URL and then Google will tell you right away whether or not it is mobile-friendly and if it’s not mobile-friendly, what are the things you should work on. You can also just test it yourself by opening your store on different devices like a smartphone, different size smartphones, tablets. You get the picture.
Exactly, and if you’re a bit too close for comfort or getting too accustomed to your site you can also give your store or your device to a friend and see how they interact with your site. Because that’s a very good way to figure out what works and what doesn’t. You can also have your friends test and actually make a purchase on mobile. Because it’s one thing whether or not it looks good on mobile, it’s a whole other ballgame whether or not you can actually check out and follow through with a purchase. That’s also an important thing to test out.
Few other things you can do to make sure your store is mobile-friendly is making sure all the icons are fitted to the screen, the size isn’t too small. Make sure your image sizes are high quality, but also not super huge, so they load quickly enough and generally you want to make sure that you also have responsive design. What that means is that the design of your store expands and retracts depending on the size of the screen you’re looking at. Any developer could help you do this, but you can also take a look at the themes that your eCommerce platform offers and make sure you go with a theme that is also responsive and looks good on mobile. Mistake number two – No “About Us” page. In this day and age, you may have heard, that storytelling is a big deal.
You have to tell your story to be heard because you’ve got a lot of competition out there, a lot of e-commerce stores going after your click, so you have to tell your story. One great way how to do it is through the “About Us” page. That’s a way to build credibility, to build this connection with your audience, and just tell your story. A lot of people might think it’s just an overlooked page, people don’t actually read it. but that’s wrong. People do read the “About Us” page and it does help build credibility, because if your brand isn’t well known then people don’t know is the store legit, who am I buying from, what is the idea behind the store? And it also gives you an advantage over the big-box retailers. They maybe don’t have a unique story that you do and it’s like a David and Goliath thing, where you can stand out because you’re a small business and you can share your story and who you are. Some of the things you can talk about in your “About Us” page – who you are, about your brand, about your brand values, maybe some brand history.
Is it family-owned? Are you building your business with a friend or is it maybe for charity? What’s the reason for you creating this business? It also helps to add a few pictures just so people see that there’s a real human being behind that store. Mistake number three – poor quality product photos. In the digital age, media is primarily visual. People are still attracted to pretty photos and the eye is immediately drawn to colorful visuals or just aesthetically pleasing visuals. It’s very important to integrate things like that on your site as well. It also helps to sell your products, because you’re selling the vision of your brand, you’re selling an image of your end customers wearing your products. When you’re shopping online you can’t actually try on a product or touch it, feel it, see what it’s like, so it helps your customers get an idea of what they’re buying and what they’re shopping for for exactly. It’s also useful to add details like the size of the model and comments on the fit. Maybe it’s a bit tighter, maybe loose fitting? Remember, your customers can’t touch or try on the product so it’s very useful to provide as much as these details as possible.
You can try lifestyle photos for the fit, for the overall look of the garment or whatever product that you’re selling and also flat lays are cool, they just look nice and they build this environment, this vibe. Make sure your photos are also generally zoomable so people can zoom in on the details that they’re interested in. Mistake number four – boring product descriptions. What we’re trying to say is product descriptions that don’t really stand out and don’t really inform the customer about anything, that’s what qualifies as boring. As we mentioned earlier storytelling is still very big, people want to know you, they’re interested and invested in telling and learning stories. So that also applies to your product descriptions. You want to sell your story and really sell your products to the customer using language and imagery to help visualize themselves in your product.
Make sure to add information that is relevant to the customer, remember, there’s nothing wrong with adding that technical information. Do mention the fabric for a t-shirt, wash instructions, wash, and care instructions. On some of the well-known eCommerce sites out there, you’ll notice that the product descriptions have this balance of the creative side and the technical side. Sometimes they’re split up in these two little tabs with shipping or care instructions and then they have the brand language description. Then, going along with your product descriptions, you also want to include a size guide as well. Then pay attention also to grammar or spelling mistakes.
You need to use this opportunity to show off your brand and show how legitimate your store is. When you’re writing product descriptions make sure to include those key keywords about your product. If it’s a t-shirt, make sure to add the actual word “t-shirt”, if you’re selling, I don’t know, a mug, a coffee mug, do mention the words “coffee mug” in the description, because that makes your description and your product that more searchable. The next step, mistake number five and that is confusing a product catalog. Basically, when a customer lands on your site, they should know just intuitively where they want to go or where they have to go to find the products that they want.
That means laying them out and all of your products out in understandable categories or creating an understandable collection, just so customers can easily see “Okay, I want a men’s t-shirt – where do I go to find that exactly?” You don’t have to get too elaborate if you’re running an apparel business, I think, for starters, you can just go with “men’s”, “women’s” or maybe “t-shirts”, “bottoms”, “accessories” just something super simple so there isn’t too much overlap between categories. That’s something we see often where people want to simplify the process by making several categories thinking that you’ll just click just the one you need, but if the product appears in several categories it gets a bit confusing.
That’s another thing we also notice – a lot of categories, but also too few categories. When you land on a page and it’s just like a huge list of products and then it’s a little bit overwhelming because there are so many products here, I don’t know what I actually am looking for, I don’t know what I want, how do I get through all of this? So it’s finding that balance of okay what products do I have and how do I show them and organize them in a way that my customers will be able to find what they want? It actually goes hand in hand with product photos, so make sure they’re all similar, that they’re of the same style so when the person gets to see your product grid when they’ve opened a category, it’s not too chaotic, so there aren’t photos with white backgrounds and suddenly there are lifestyle photos. So it’s just more easy on the eye.
Mistake number six – no social proof. Just to get started a quick reminder on what social proof means. It’s some kind of evidence of people enjoying your product. These days it takes shape of social media posts that are incorporated in the site. Those could be testimonials, user-generated photos. For example, reviews things like that, just evidence of people using your product and it’s important because and this kind of ties back to your “About Us” page, where if you’re an unknown brand people don’t know who you are, they might not want to buy from you if they just don’t know if your products are actually gonna be legit and quality.
It just helps lend your store credibility if new customers can see “Oh! This other person brought this product and loved it so I must be on the right page and I could buy from the store as well.” Customers are generally gonna trust real people over a brand telling them that this product is quality. Because of course we’re gonna be telling everybody that you’re great, but that’s for people to decide. The easiest way to get more customer reviews and social proof are just to ask for it. People, if they are fans of your product and they want to help your brand succeed, they’re probably gonna be more than willing to help you out, especially if you’re a little brand just getting started. You can send out an email.
In Printful we have our packing slips, we can add custom messages so even there you can say “Hey, leave a review, I would love it!” You can even offer a special incentive to everyone who leaves a review by giving them X percent off for example. Another cool thing you can do is just make your social proof a bit more personal. Try to connect your story with your customer’s story. If you see somebody who’s particularly interested in your brand or maybe sharing a lot of your products on social media, share those photos again, give them a shout-out. Maybe send them a thank-you note or something, just built that bridge, make it more solid. It’s also always a good idea to reach out to maybe an influencer or celebrity because they also have a lot of clouts. If their fans see that they are wearing one of your products, that’s also gonna really help spread the word.
Mistake number seven – no incentives to buy. People aren’t going to want to necessarily spend their money, especially if it’s their first time in your store. It’s really a good idea for you to help nudge them in the direction that you want to go in. There’s a lot of subtle ways, or not so some ways, of doing this so you can also, for example, in your product descriptions make the product sound a little bit more exclusive. “It’s a unique product”, “handcrafted” or if you do hand design for example. You can also drive a sense of urgency by saying that it’s a limited-time collection. Offer free shipping, this is huge, we always recommend offering free shipping. We’ve seen it ourselves in our own EB tests for our “Startup Vitamins” store – people are going to be more likely to buy even if you increase the price to take into account the shipping.
People are more likely to buy a product with free shipping. Make sure that people know about your free shipping offer as soon as they get on that page. You see this all the time with the little free shipping banners on the top of the page. I’m sure you’ve seen those, it’s super effective. Holding some kind of a sale or promotion discounted prices that have also been how to motivate them to buy more. Those are all good ways to boost sales, but make sure not to be a bit too eager. Especially for things like pop-ups and emails.
Don’t get too excited, don’t jump all over your customer as soon as they land on your store just give them a few minutes to take it all in and then go “20% discount” For pop-ups especially we recommend doing like a scroll kind of pop-up or time to pop-up so it’s not like your customer lands on your page immediately and “Uh 20% off? But I don’t even know why do I want this!” Let them browse a little bit, let them get to know your store or see your products, pique their interest a little bit first. Another good idea in terms of pop-ups is an exit-intent to pop-up. That is when pop-up software can tell based on where the cursor of the mouse is going if they’re about to leave a page, then a pop-up will appear “Hey, are you sure? You know you can stay put on this page buy something, get a discount.” It’s kind of a last-ditch effort to make them stay.
Mistake number eight – too much stuff going on. This ties in a little bit with what we just talked about in terms of creating incentives for people to buy things. Like we just said, you have to incentivize a little bit, but you have to be careful with that balance and make sure that you’re not overdoing it. It’s a good idea to keep your store kind of clean and minimal. You don’t want a lot of different gifs or little illustration pop-ups happening. Keep your store very neat, clean, and easy to navigate. Another thing that sometimes is a bit annoying is that people want to get you to subscribe or log in too eagerly, create an account to check out.
People are really, really sensitive about what data or what information they share about themselves, and surprisingly enough they may not be willing to share their email address with you. If you do, and again this also ties in with the last point a little bit, if you do ask for an email address at the checkout, then make sure you also understand what value they get out of it as well. Think of it as a currency. You’re not just gonna give your email away for no reason at all, you have to offer something that’s gonna be of value. Whether that is a discount like we mentioned in the last point or like a free ebook if you’re selling phone cases like a free home screen. Something like that, just something that makes them kind of wants to actually offer their emails.
Mistake number 9 – broken links and broken things. Why is it important? Because it just bums you out to go on a site and see a broken link. You want to buy something and you can’t, so you just leave. It also kind of damages your reputation and your credibility if first-time customers on your page click a button and it doesn’t work, it’s not a good look. They might not think that you’re credible, your business is legit and they’re probably not gonna want to leave their credit card information with you. That’s just a very basic bottom line thing that you should do – make sure everything works. You should test your store on your desktop, on your mobile device, make sure there are no bugs, all your links work and they’re all clickable when they should be.
You can also test your checkout process to make sure that you can go through it that it’s smooth, that it’s quick and you know it actually works. Make sure that people can submit their payments and get their orders. One little thing we’ve also noticed is these little social media icons that tend to appear at the bottom of the page. Make sure that they go somewhere. If you don’t have an Instagram or a Facebook account or Twitter, then just don’t use them. If you do have one make sure that you actually have some content on there because that’s another level of sort of sketchiness. That’s an example of social proof, somebody scrolls down to the bottom of the page see your Instagram account click and there’s no posts, no nothing.
“Oh, do I want to buy from this store? I don’t think so.” We’ve arrived at mistake number 10 which is a difficult checkout flow. Which is arguably the most important one. In this case, let’s imagine a customer has landed on your store, they’re really into it, they love your products, they actually click on one, add it to their basket and they’re on their way to checkout and they expect that “okay, couple clicks and this product is gonna be mine.” But then they’re asked to create an account, they’re asked to do something else. Check this box and type this information. “I don’t want to, nevermind this is too much effort I’m putting this product back and leaving.
You’re so close to the finish line, with the checkout you almost have that sale. You just really want to make sure that the process is super smooth. You want to ask for the least amount of information as possible to get that. If they have to type a million different things, they’re just gonna get annoyed, they’re gonna get lazy and they’re not gonna do it. So make sure that it’s as few steps as possible, as easy as possible. Make sure that you have the payment methods that they’re used to paying, accepting credit cards, PayPal that kind of thing. Exactly and another very important thing is that the checkout flow is like the Holy Grail.
It’s just super focused, no distractions, no sales, no promos. Your customer has already placed a few items in their basket and now you got to get them to the finish line, no distractions. That’s the one CTA – purchase. And that’s all you should be focusing on at this point. A thing you can do to make sure your checkout is easy and seamless and we’ve already touched on this before throughout this talk, is to test it out yourself Make sure that you can buy a product you know to give it to a friend, make sure they can buy a product. Go through the process yourself and then make sure that the product also works in the backend as well, that it actually syncs with your e-commerce platform with Printful and that it actually goes through.
Remember to check if it’s easy to buy in Mobile. Alright and that’s it from us guys! We hope you found this very helpful and we’d love to hear from you as well. If you have any questions about what you might be doing wrong, what you might be doing right. If you have noticed what others are doing wrong we’d love to hear it, so post it in the comment. As always keep hustling, keep doing your best, and keep working hard, and good luck! Good luck! Hey, there! It’s a Wes from Printful! I hope you liked that post.