The e-commerce landscape is on the verge of retail domination. As we recover from the effects of the global pandemic, more smartphone users than ever before are tapping into an online high street to interact with their favourite brands.
In fact, by 2026 alone, one-fifth of retail purchases globally will be made with a click of a button.
Embarking on an e-commerce adventure could be the next big move for your small business. From opening your doors to a global audience to gaining recognition on social media, launching your store in an online domain could skyrocket your conversion rate in 2023.
Ignoring Competitor Data
It's no secret that the e-commerce sector is competitive. Ranked as one of the key challenges online store owners face in 2023, competition between other industry players can make your journey to the top of Google all that bit trickier.
Alongside other common struggles, such as keeping up with user experience demands and boosting online visibility, staging on top of your competitors could be the difference between creating a store that pops or flops.
Developers can sometimes forget or ignore competitor data due to various reasons.
Here are a few possible explanations:
- Lack of Research - Developers may overlook competitor data if they haven't conducted thorough research or competitive analysis. This could be due to time constraints, limited resources, or a lack of awareness about the importance of understanding the competitive landscape.
- Narrow Focus - Developers might have a narrow focus on the technical aspects of website development, such as coding and design, and may not prioritize gathering and analyzing competitor data. They may assume that this task falls under the purview of marketing or business strategy teams.
- Limited Collaboration - In some cases, developers may not have sufficient collaboration or communication with marketing or business teams who typically handle competitor analysis. This lack of coordination can result in developers missing out on valuable competitor insights.
- Underestimating the Value - Developers may underestimate the value of competitor data and fail to recognize its impact on website success. They might not realize that understanding competitor strategies, user experiences, and market trends can provide valuable insights to improve their own website's performance.
- Overconfidence - Developers who are confident in their skills or have a limited view of the competitive landscape may assume that they can create a successful website without analyzing competitor data. This overconfidence can lead to neglecting competitor research.
- Lack of Metrics and Tracking - If developers do not have access to metrics or tracking tools that provide competitor data, they may simply overlook it. Without the necessary data and insights, they might not be aware of the need to consider competitor information during the website development process.
The key here is to delve deeper into competitor data before you embark on any site development. See what types of products your direct competition is selling, and note down how they have advertised them.
Better still, map how their store adapts to ever-changing demographic trends. Do they switch up their content depending on certain seasonal periods, or does their branding remain the same throughout?
Taking note of seasonal campaigns or the lack thereof could provide you with more ideas when creating your own store content. If your rival stores fall short of seasonal trend adaptations, ensure that your online store gives your target consumers what your competitor can't.
Choosing a Poor Web Template
(Image Source: Outer Box Design)
Once you've done your research, it's time to start constructing the first draft of your e-commerce store.
Unless you're a UX expert or a well-seasoned web developer, using a website template and a proper shop builder is your best bet when building an online store for the first time. Web templates are usually equipt with simple navigation guides and functional layouts but are still super easy to customise with your own visuals and colours.
However, it's important to choose your web template carefully. Your web design not only drives engagement but can also be the number one reason a browser bounces.
If you choose a template that is difficult to navigate or is overwhelming for a potential consumer, you'll be likely to see little to no site traffic.
Choose a web template that is user-friendly, visually appealing, and professional in the eyes of your customers. Once you've selected a design that suits your individual needs, make sure you test it across a range of devices, ranging from smartphone screens to tablets.
Here are a few examples of a poorly selected template:
- Lack of Unique Design - A poor web template often lacks uniqueness and originality. It may be a generic design used by many other websites, resulting in a lack of visual appeal and failing to make a lasting impression on visitors. This can make it difficult for the website to stand out from competitors.
- Limited Customization - A subpar web template may offer limited customization options. This can restrict the ability to tailor the website's design and functionality to specific needs and branding requirements. Limited customization can hinder the website's ability to reflect the unique identity and goals of the business or organization.
- Unoptimized User Experience - Poorly designed templates may not prioritize user experience (UX) best practices. They might lack intuitive navigation, clear calls-to-action, or proper information hierarchy, leading to a confusing or frustrating user journey. This can result in higher bounce rates, lower engagement, and decreased conversions.
- Compatibility Issues - Some web templates may not be compatible with all browsers, devices, or screen sizes. This can lead to inconsistencies in how the website is displayed or functional issues across different platforms. Incompatibility can result in a poor user experience, negatively impacting usability and accessibility.
- Performance and Speed Problems - Certain web templates may contain excessive code, unnecessary scripts, or bloated design elements, leading to slower page load times. Slow-loading websites can frustrate users and negatively affect search engine rankings, as speed is a factor considered by search algorithms. This can result in lower traffic and decreased user satisfaction.
- Limited Updates and Support - Poorly designed templates may receive limited updates and support from the template provider. This can lead to compatibility issues with newer technologies, security vulnerabilities, and a lack of access to new features or improvements. The absence of regular updates and support can hinder the website's long-term maintenance and growth.
- Branding Inconsistency - A poor web template may not align with the brand identity of the business or organization. Inconsistent branding elements, such as colors, fonts, and logo placement, can create a disjointed experience for visitors. This can weaken brand recognition and dilute the website's impact on establishing a strong brand image.
- SEO Challenges - Web templates that are poorly optimized for search engines can present challenges for SEO efforts. They may lack structured markup, proper heading hierarchy, or meta tag customization options. These limitations can hinder the website's visibility in search engine results, making it harder for potential visitors to discover the site.
In an era where 73% of consumers bounce off of a site due to poor design responsiveness, it's crucial that your web template is multi-device functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Forgetting About Mobile Consumers
Did you know that 79% of e-commerce consumers now make a purchase via a smartphone device?
After 2022 raked in over $1 trillion in mobile sales alone, your smartphone shoppers are your ticket to success in 2023.
(Image Source: Outer Box Design)
Therefore, when building an online store, it's imperative that you keep your mobile consumers in mind.
One of the most common mistakes made when constructing an e-commerce site is forgetting about the key differences between a desktop and mobile interface. While your online store may be functional on a desktop screen, with large visuals, horizontal text, and landscape navigation, styles quickly become dysfunctional in a mobile setting.
The key here is to create multiple versions of your site design. If you want to serve your mobile consumers with a responsive, user-friendly experience, ensure that your product photos are resized to avoid overlapping and that your content falls vertically to enhance a scrolling-based browning experience.
Here are some consequences of overlooking mobile users,:
- Poor User Experience - Neglecting mobile consumers can result in a subpar user experience. Websites that are not optimized for mobile devices may have navigation issues, small text that is difficult to read, or improperly scaled images. This can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction among mobile users, potentially driving them away from the website.
- Decreased Traffic and Engagement - Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have become the primary means of accessing the internet for many users. By disregarding mobile optimization, developers risk alienating a significant portion of their target audience. This oversight can result in decreased mobile traffic and lower engagement levels, impacting the website's overall performance.
- Negative Impact on Conversion Rates - Mobile consumers often have specific needs and behaviors when browsing websites on their devices. Failing to address these unique requirements can harm conversion rates. For example, if the checkout process is not mobile-friendly, users may abandon their purchases, leading to missed business opportunities.
- Lower Search Engine Rankings - Search engines, like Google, prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their search results, especially for searches conducted on mobile devices. When developers neglect mobile optimization, it can negatively impact the website's search engine rankings. This can result in reduced visibility, organic traffic, and potential loss of competitive advantage.
- Missed Revenue Opportunities - Mobile e-commerce and online transactions continue to grow rapidly. By disregarding mobile consumers, developers risk missing out on significant revenue opportunities. Mobile-optimized websites can enhance the user experience and facilitate seamless transactions, leading to increased conversions and revenue generation.
- Negative Brand Perception - A poorly optimized mobile experience can reflect negatively on a brand or business. Mobile users may associate a frustrating or unresponsive website with a lack of professionalism, credibility, or attention to detail. This perception can harm brand reputation and make it challenging to attract and retain customers.
- Inability to Keep Pace with Industry Trends - Mobile technology and user behavior are constantly evolving. Ignoring mobile consumers can lead to falling behind industry trends and innovations. Staying abreast of mobile optimization best practices ensures that developers remain competitive and able to deliver the seamless experiences users expect.
Better still, why not play around with haptic feedback?
If you want to improve your site responsiveness, use vibrations, sounds, and visual guides for mobile consumers that provide feedback for each site action they perform.
"If you own an eCommerce website, it's more important than ever to have an easy-to-use mobile shopping experience which includes a well-designed user interface along with blazing quick site speed," claims Justin Smith, CEO of Outer Box Design. "Not doing so is simply ignoring half of your potential customers."
Neglecting Customer Service Points
When constructing an online store, many developers focus solely on providing a functional route for leads to take from impression to checkout.
Yet, no consumer is the same. From different levels of accessibility to product-related questions not found in the site's FAQ, there are a number of reasons why a consumer could need extra support during their shopping journey.
The key here is to start adding customer service points within your online store design. Whether you have the budget to leverage AI-powered chatbots or simply create a dedicated contact page that consumers can use to get in touch, building a customer support system on-site is a recipe for the positive feedback.
Here are some consequences of overlooking customer service:
- Dissatisfied Customers - Neglecting customer service can result in dissatisfied customers. When customers have issues, concerns, or inquiries, and they are unable to receive prompt and satisfactory assistance, it can lead to frustration and disappointment. This negative experience can damage customer relationships and loyalty.
- Negative Word-of-Mouth - Unresolved or poorly addressed customer service issues can result in negative word-of-mouth. Customers who have a poor experience are likely to share their frustrations with others, whether through online reviews, social media, or personal recommendations. This negative feedback can tarnish the business's reputation and deter potential customers.
- Decreased Customer Retention - Customer service plays a crucial role in customer retention. When customers feel valued and supported, they are more likely to continue doing business with a company. Neglecting customer service can lead to increased customer churn as dissatisfied customers may seek alternative options that prioritize their needs.
- Lost Sales Opportunities - Poor customer service can directly impact sales. Customers who encounter difficulties or obstacles in their buying journey and receive inadequate support may abandon their purchases or turn to competitors. In contrast, businesses that prioritize customer service and provide seamless assistance throughout the buying process can capitalize on increased sales opportunities.
- Damage to Brand Reputation - Customer service is closely tied to a company's brand reputation. Neglecting customer service can result in a negative perception of the brand, signaling a lack of care and commitment to customer satisfaction. This damaged reputation can be challenging to overcome and may require significant efforts to rebuild trust.
- Missed Feedback and Improvement Opportunities - Customer service interactions often provide valuable feedback and insights into areas for improvement. Neglecting customer service points can result in missed opportunities to gather feedback, identify pain points, and address customer concerns. This can hinder the company's ability to enhance its products, services, and overall customer experience.
- Inability to Differentiate from Competitors - Exceptional customer service can be a powerful differentiating factor in a competitive market. By neglecting customer service, a business may fail to stand out from its competitors, particularly if competitors prioritize and excel in this area. Ignoring customer service points can result in missed opportunities to establish a unique selling proposition and create a competitive advantage.
"We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better," says Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos.
After SalesForce data revealed that 89% of consumers are likely to repurchase on a site with easy-to-access customer service, it's a site trick you don't want to miss.
Overcomplicating The Checkout Process
Last but not least, it's time to stop over-complicating the checkout process. Too many well-designed online stores lose their leads in the last few seconds on the grounds of a complicated checkout experience.
As you can see here, 17% of consumers abandon their carts at the last minute, based on a complicated checkout process alone.
If a consumer has added a product to their basket, the last thing they want to do is fill in a lengthy form and input all of their card details. Your checkout system should be packed full of options for each type of consumer.
Here are some consequences of making the checkout process overly complex:
- Increased Cart Abandonment - A complex checkout process can frustrate and confuse customers, leading to a higher rate of cart abandonment. Customers may become discouraged by lengthy forms, excessive steps, or confusing navigation, causing them to abandon their purchase and seek a simpler alternative elsewhere.
- Reduced Conversion Rates - When the checkout process is complicated, customers may hesitate or feel uncertain about completing their purchase. This can result in reduced conversion rates as potential customers abandon the buying process before completing the transaction. Simplifying the checkout process is crucial to encouraging customers to follow through with their purchases.
- Negative User Experience - A convoluted checkout process can create a negative user experience. Customers expect a streamlined and intuitive process that is quick and easy to navigate. When confronted with complexity, customers may perceive the website as inefficient or difficult to use, damaging their overall impression of the brand.
- Impaired Mobile Experience - Mobile users, who constitute a significant portion of online shoppers, may be particularly affected by a complex checkout process. Mobile devices have smaller screens and touch-based navigation, making it even more important to simplify the checkout experience for mobile users. Overcomplicating the process on mobile can lead to usability issues and hinder conversions.
- Increased Customer Support Requests - A complex checkout process can generate an influx of customer support requests. Customers may require assistance or clarification due to confusion or errors during the checkout process. This can strain customer support resources and increase operational costs.
- Missed Cross-Selling and Upselling Opportunities - An unnecessarily complex checkout process may result in missed opportunities for cross-selling and upselling. When the focus is solely on completing the transaction, there may be limited or no opportunity to showcase related products or suggest complementary items, potentially reducing the average order value.
- Detrimental Reputation and Brand Image - Complicated checkout processes can negatively impact a brand's reputation and image. Dissatisfied customers may share their frustrations through reviews, social media, or word-of-mouth, damaging the perception of the brand's user-friendliness and customer-centric approach.
To avoid these consequences, it is important to simplify the checkout process.
Here are some best practices:
- Minimize the number of steps and form fields required during checkout.
- Offer guest checkout options to avoid mandatory account creation.
- Provide clear and concise instructions and labels to guide customers through the process.
- Implement auto-fill features and smart form validation to reduce user input and errors.
- Optimize the checkout process for mobile devices to ensure a seamless experience.
- Clearly display pricing, shipping costs, and any additional fees upfront to avoid surprises.
- Offer multiple secure payment options to cater to customer preferences.
- Test and optimize the checkout process regularly based on user feedback and analytics data.
We're talking Apple Pay buttons, buy now, pay later schemes, and the ability to smartphone-scan card details.
If you introduce steps that simplify and speed up the checkout process, you'll be more likely to enjoy a higher rate of store conversions.
A Multi-Functional Future
Online store design is evolving. As the e-commerce sector expands, consumers continue to find new ways to tap into an online high street.
Therefore, it has never been more important to stay on top of your online store design. Not only should you be regularly adapting your content to adhere to demographic trends, but your store should strive to be multi-functional on a number of new devices.
"The goal of your e-commerce website design is to turn a casual browser into a loyal brand shopper," says Tomas Laurinavicius co-founder of Best Writing. "UX design is an ever-evolving field. Develop new assumptions and design hypotheses, then test them on your site to develop a new "best practice" for your brand."
Keep testing new strategies, and keep on top of your competitors in a fast-paced landscape. Those who prioritise their online store functionality will quickly see an ROI pay off, while those who fail to adapt to new consumer demands will find themselves fading on an online high street.