Despite your best attempts at strategic planning, small business owners who sell online may fall prey to some innocent but costly mistakes that hinder growth and customer satisfaction.
Here are five common mistakes Internet retailers make — and how to avoid them.
A slick site design that’s slow.
A visually appealing site is valuable in creating the brand image you want to convey — but not if your “look” stands in the way of usability. One study conducted by Akami Technologies and Forrester Consulting indicates that most Web shoppers wait no more than two seconds for a page to load on a site; 79 percent who have trouble with a website’s performance won’t return to it.
Test your page load times using a free resource like Google’s PageSpeedInsights for a rank-based score of page load times, and actionable ways to boost page speed.
Misunderstanding Google rank.
Google has gotten serious about prioritizing sites that offer information that is informative, trustworthy and unique. According to Google's Search Quality Rating Guidelines “reputable merchant sites” will have features like a shopping cart that updates when items are added, deleted or edited, provides a physical address for exchanges and returns, offers a shipping charges calculator and order-tracking features, and possibly “wish lists,” gift registry options and active user forums.
In early 2014, Google expanded upon its definition of authority, in terms of perceived credibility and Google search engine rank: Product copy must be unique and relevant to keywords customers use in search. If your site includes longer-form content like a blog, authors should be “experts” — which Google says can be dictated by professional background, personal experience and/or expert hobbyist who shares unique details or insight on a certain topic. All site content should be high quality and free of grammar and punctuation issues.
Assuming functionality is about size.
Nielsen data indicates that as of early 2014, the majority of all mobile subscribers in the United States have a smartphone, across all age groups; eMarketer estimates that at least a quarter of online transactions will take place on a mobile device by 2017.
Mistakenly believing you are meeting the needs of mobile users because your retail site resizes to a device-appropriate page width is a common mistake. Mobile users expect a heightened online experience that works in tandem with their technology; your website should include geolocation capabilities to detect a consumer’s location, allow customers to be connected with a representative from your store with the push of a button when needed, and the ability to complete an order on any device with ease.
Not being overt about shipping costs.
One Forrester study exploring the reasons behind shopping cart abandonment revealed a common Internet retailer mistake that is easily remedied: Not being transparent about shipping costs until the customer is well into the transaction.
Include an online shipping calculator that allows the customer to see the impact that adding or removing items from a shopping cart will have on shipping costs, and/or offer a compelling free shipping offer can easily remedy this primary cause of lost sales.
Not indicating inventory on hand.
In a recent Accenture study of omni-channel retail behavior, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they would not buy from a website that cannot indicate real-time inventory on hand.
Take advantage of inventory management software that equips you to track sales, returns, exchanges and items placed in shopping carts (but which may or may not be purchased) across multiple channels, and simplify physical inventory management with tools like custom-printed labels that contain the information your inventory staff needs to quickly receive and process items back into stock.
Don Amato is Vice-President, Sales of Chicago Tag & Label in Libertyville, IL. The company makes forms, labels and tags to deliver solutions to all types of businesses. We work with you throughout the design process to create the best solutions for your business.