Online shopping is here to stay. If there was ever any doubt, the tremendous success enjoyed by e-commerce portals in 2014 sealed the deal. According to estimates by eMarketer.com, somewhere in the vicinity of $1.5 trillion dollars were spent by e-commerce shoppers in 2014. In the holiday season, online shoppers spent a whopping $61 billion dollars in the U.S. alone!
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As more brick-and-mortar businesses take their product catalog online, the e-commerce market is more competitive than it has ever been. In a market where you have little to no margin for error, here are the top four mistakes you should avoid if you want to survive.
1. Targeting too many categories
Targeting too many categories is one of the most common mistakes made by e-commerce startups. When you’re starting off, it is crucial to establish your image. If you’re selling too many things, it is tough to identify your business with any particular category. Zappos is a classic example of why being specific works. Zappos established themselves as the one-stop shop for shoes first and foremost. After they found success in that niche, they added more categories to their website.
It is very important to pick a niche, no matter how small, and become the go-to store in that niche. Even if it is an obscure category like flashlights or batteries, make sure you conquer it before you spread yourself thin.
2. Having a confusing user interface.
In the e-commerce market, you have a very small window to make a good impression. Even if you have a robust catalog, if your website is confusing to navigate, you are guaranteed to fail. You should structure your website in a manner that feels intuitive and effortless. Whether it’s browsing products, offers or buying something on your store, you need to make the process as painless and enjoyable for your visitors as possible.
To create the perfect balance, you will have to test your layouts extensively. Little things like placing the search box a few pixels to the left or right can have surprising effects on conversion. When a user adds something on your website to their cart, the last thing you want is a confusing navigational structure giving them last minute jitters.
3.Ignoring your SEO.
If you’re thinking you’ll work on the SEO after you have a little bit of money in the bank, you are sadly mistaken. From the outset, your aim should be to create an SEO-friendly website structure. A lot of your traffic will come from search engines, and if you aren’t optimizing your pages, you’ll get lost in the crowd. In addition, once you’ve set everything up, revisiting a complex e-commerce site structure to make it SEO friendly is difficult and costly. You might have to spend a little extra for getting your SEO in place right from the start, but it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
4. Not personalizing the experience for the visitor.
Have you ever marveled at Amazon’s uncanny ability to suggest products that you are interested in? The Amazon recommendation system isn’t a fluke. It is a complex algorithm which understands user behavior on the website and uses it to deliver personalized recommendations.
You need to do the same thing on your store. Every time a visitor comes to your page, it is an opportunity for you to gain some information about them. There are several third-party tools and data analysis services you should look into if you are serious about personalizing the customer experience. The right suggestion at the right time can lead to more sales and repeat business.
E-commerce is an extremely lucrative industry. There is no denying it. If you play your cards right, you will have an extremely profitable business on your hands for a long time. But at the same time, it is also very easy to make mistakes that have crippling consequences for your business. Refer to this list periodically to ensure that you aren’t making any of these errors in your e-commerce business.