If you are a shop owner and subscribe to the “Build it and they will come” philosophy, you can leave now… This post will most certainly not help you. These are VERY common mistakes that business owners and developers alike make with online shopping sites. We see these problems all the time and the excuses that follow as well.
I can appreciate that many shop owners have no clue as to how much hard work will be involved… I really do understand. But, when your store has been live for a year and you have 3 sales… You might consider some research and good old fashioned hard work to turn it around. So here are the top mistakes we see shop owners make… Many of them seem like real bonehead moves, but you would likely be surprised at the excuses we have heard for these matters.
- Duplication of published content: If you are using the supplied manufacturers descriptions and textual content for your store… JUST STOP, everyone else is using them too! Google knows these descriptions and phrases from many other websites and has no desire to rank your copied content for their searchers to find a whole search results page of uncreative and duplicate content. You MUST use unique text to succeed. If its too much work for you, then you are in the wrong business.
- Duplicate Content in Your Store: Do you have a bear minimum of 250 characters of UNIQUE text on every page of your site? No? Well consider this… Your template makes up about 60% of any page in your store. These pages are generally 60% duplicate out of the box, so if you do not specifically use unique text for every page, you are just wasting your time.
- Page Real Estate: Whats in your store page’s eye line? Even know what an eye line is? The eye line is the top content on any page which is above the fold (Scroll Point) yet about 25% below the top of the page. We know from many qualified research studies that this is your hot spot… Your opportunity to engage the shopper. So what have you done with this area. Quick tip… You have about 15 seconds to engage that visitor before they click away… and believe it or not, they are 80% more likely to spend all or most of that 15 seconds reading text.
- Navigation: Clearly shoppers have the advantage with online shopping. If I can’t find a trail to what I need from your store quickly… I can more easily find another store. Believe it or not price is NOT everything. In development and maintenance of your store, navigation is an area to spend a great deal of time on. Shoppers, Google and other search engines want usability. They days of eye tracking a shopper in to a hard sell or heaven forbid a pop up are GONE. Shop your store and have others shop it as well… Get feedback, offer vertical browsing and search options, but most of all, think your navigation through.
- Relevant Content: This is a very confusing notion for many shop owners… Even well seasoned ones. The very nature of the term relative seems unknown. If you have a store selling bananas…. You will not effectively sell either if you also try to sell PCs. Lets face it you do not have Wal Mart’s marketing budget.
- Monetizing your Online Store: If you are doing this… You have VERY clearly screwed yourself. What kind of business owner would send away a potential sale to a competitor? Answer: None that are successful. So I come to your store looking for a bananna… Great you have what I need, but while I am shopping I see a PPC Ad for wholesale bannanas and click away… Never finding my way back. So for a dime spot, you have blown the sale, screwed yourself out of any other future sales I may send you and you look really stupid.
- Store Contact Info: These things really irritate me as well. Is your phone number posted clearly on your website? What you don’t have one… I’m leaving, this store is probably a scheme run by some eBayer and I’m gona get screwed. How about this one? I come to your store and have a question… So I email you. Your response comes from some GMail or AOL address… Do you also hand out business card printed on the back of used business cards? You must build trust with your shoppers to succeed… This is no longer 1997 and we don’t fall for every trick anymore.
- Shipping: Is your shipping reasonable? Easy to find and estimate? If not, you lose. eBay has certainly burned most of the global shopping public with outrageous shipping cost tricks. If I have to wait until I have entered my information to see my shipping cost… I’m going to assume you are about to screw me over and leave.
- Disclaimers: Have you posted tentative shipping or pricing in your checkout? A disclaimer like “All Shipping Costs are and Estimate, Final charge may Vary”… I am so leaving, al be damned If I am giving you carte blanc opportunity to charge my card whatever you feel like. When you build your store… You really do have to think like a shopper!
- Checkout: Ok I have decided to give you money… Wohooo. Not you torutre me with 5 pages of checkout asking for everything but my underware size… Screw this I’m leaving! ONLY collect the information you need to complete the order. Take all distractions out of your checkout to keep shoppers on track, and please make it as painless as possible.
Seriously, many of these items probably seem very stupid… Easy, whatever. I am telling you we see these things everyday and its a shame that businesses are launched, money invested and time spent to fail. Having a web business is probably more work than any brick and mortar business… Have you commited the necessary funds, time and ongoing budget to succeed? Most don’t.