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20 Mistakes of Online Stores

18 jul 2023
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Owners and administrators of various online stores often turn to us at FIVE STARS AGENCY for assistance. The main reason for their inquiries is usually low sales. We independently analyze the structure of each website and the unique aspects of the business, and then make the necessary adjustments.

In many cases, low sales are a result of various shortcomings that occurred during the website's creation or during its operation. We present to you 20 typical usability mistakes in online stores that, when addressed, can help increase sales.

1. Lack of product parameters and descriptions
Every product, regardless of its category, has its own set of parameters. These include dimensions, color, technical specifications, and usage characteristics. It is important to provide this information on each product page, as detailed as possible. Additionally, the product description should highlight its key features and usage details.

2. Absence of product availability information
Information about product availability is crucial to eliminate customer doubts about making a purchase. In most cases, indicating the quantity of the available items for each product is sufficient. If a product is temporarily unavailable, it should be clearly stated. Customers should be informed about product availability before placing an order, rather than finding out after contacting the store's operator.

3. Lack of product photos
The absence of product photos will often discourage potential buyers, as well as low-quality photos. Customers need to see what they are purchasing, with the option to zoom in and view the photo in full screen. It is recommended to include multiple photos for each product, showcasing the item from different angles. Additionally, including a video on the product page demonstrating the product in use can be a valuable addition to the photos.

4. Missing information on warranties, delivery, and payment
Providing detailed and clear information about payment methods, product warranties, and delivery options increases trust in the online store. This information is usually provided on a separate page, but links to it should be easily accessible on each product page or in the website's header or footer.

5. Absence of cross-selling
Offering related or similar products encourages increased sales. In online stores, cross-selling can be implemented through sections titled "You may also like," "Customers who bought this item also bought," "Similar products," and so on. Offering discounts on accessories or complementary items to the main product increases the likelihood of additional purchases.

6. Lack of product filters and sorting options
Having a large number of products is appealing to users, but without proper filters and sorting options, it becomes inconvenient to navigate through the extensive assortment. It is highly impractical for someone to meticulously browse through hundreds of items on an online store in hopes of finding a product with specific parameters. Filters and sorting options are essential for a user-friendly experience.

7. Absence of automatic cart saving
During the checkout process, various technical issues can occur, such as order processing errors, connection interruptions, or accidental tab closures by the user. All of these can lead to the cart being reset, forcing the user to start the purchase process again. If the user decides to search for the desired items again, there is a high probability that some previously selected items will not be added to the cart for the second time. The only solution here is to implement automatic cart saving until the checkout process is completed.

8. Lack of product description in the cart
Before confirming an order, most users double-check the details of the items they are purchasing, such as the name, dimensions, color, and other specifications. The essential product parameters must be displayed in the cart. It is also desirable to include a direct link to the product page where all its specifications are provided in detail.

9. Incorrect final order amount in the cart
The final order amount can increase due to delivery methods, payment options, and other factors. All these elements should be calculated automatically, and the user should see the total amount to be paid in the cart, including all expenses. If bonuses and discounts are applicable to the selected items, the user should be informed in advance to encourage additional purchases.

10. Lack of error description during payment
Errors can occur during the payment process due to insufficient funds on the user's card, incorrect data entry, transaction rejection by the bank, or other reasons. Simply displaying an "Error" message is not sufficient in this case. The user needs to be informed about the cause of the problem and provided with instructions on how to resolve it.

11. Absence of explanatory information after order placement
When a customer sees a message like "Thank you for your purchase!" on the screen without any additional explanations after making the payment, it can be disappointing. In addition to expressing gratitude, the customer should receive information about the payment status, the assigned order number, delivery timelines, an upcoming call from the online store's operator, and other relevant details about the purchase.

12. Lack of order information duplication via email
Detailed information about the purchase should be sent to the user via email. It should include the name of the online store, the order number, and the total amount. It is advisable to include links for online order status checking, complete product information, and contacting customer support.

13. Absence of site search
Not all users are willing to browse through a website's catalog in search of a specific item. They may find it easier to switch to another online store that offers a search function. Therefore, an online store must have a product search feature. Moreover, site-wide product search allows for analysis of user search patterns, which can help expand the product range and increase sales.

14. Lack of contact information
Ideally, the contact information of an online store should include a telephone number, email address, physical address, and legal address. Additional details such as messaging apps, working hours, and directions can also be provided. While some online stores may not disclose their physical or legal addresses for various reasons, at a minimum, a phone number and email address must be provided. The more contact information available, the higher the level of trust from users.

15. Complex registration process on the website
The majority of users are reluctant to fill out extensive registration forms on a website. They may abandon the site during the registration process, causing the online store to lose potential customers. If standard registration is unavoidable, the amount of required information should be minimized, and incentives can be offered to encourage registration. Alternatively, allowing registration through social media accounts or enabling guest checkout would be ideal.

16. Lengthy form filling requirements
Forms with multiple fields can be frustrating for users. If all the requested data is genuinely necessary for the online store, the form fields should be divided into sections. It is desirable to provide tooltips or hints for each field. Some fields can be automated, such as auto-detection of location, postal codes, etc.

17. Absence of quick checkout form
A specific category of customers prefers to receive their purchased items as quickly as possible without spending time filling out registration forms. For such customers, implementing a quick checkout form where only name and phone number are required can be beneficial. In this case, all the details of the purchase process can be clarified over the phone.

18. Lack of error explanation during data entry
Users may make mistakes or omit certain fields during data entry. If the system rejects incomplete or incorrect data without notifying the user of the specific reason, it can lead to user frustration. Users who believe they entered the correct information initially may refrain from re-entering it and, consequently, abandon the purchase. Therefore, form fields should be automatically validated, and where possible, correct data suggestions (street names, postal codes, etc.) should be provided.

19. Inadequate mobile version of the website
Websites designed for desktops are often inconvenient to navigate on mobile devices. Different screen orientation, small menu blocks, inconvenient buttons, and heavy elements can discourage users. It is essential for an online store to have a mobile version or responsive design, especially considering that many online purchases are made from mobile phones.

20. Absence of a mobile application
A mobile application is one of the best ways to engage with customers. Usually, users are offered discounts when purchasing through a mobile app. However, the main advantage lies in the increased potential for customer conversion through timely notifications, push notifications, and messages about hot deals, promotions, discounts, etc.

This list of errors is not exhaustive. There are many other factors that can negatively impact sales to some extent. The specialists at FIVE STARS AGENCY are capable of addressing any of these errors, regardless of when or by whom the website was developed. However, it is important not to overlook the importance of SMM promotion, lead generation, performance marketing capabilities, and other internet technologies individually applied by our digital agency to boost sales.

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