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25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid…

25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid…
Posted: March 16, 2010 at 9:11 am   /   by   /   comments (3)

25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid…25 Common Website Mistakes

There are many common mistakes that an e-commerce website & or start-ups should avoid, here are just a few which in my opinion should be avoided at all costs or which you should consider carefully....

On this page...

  1. Thinking an E-Commerce website is an easy, quick way to make money...
  2. Forgetting that - a website put together in only three days can be replicated by someone else in two.....
  3. Making the purchasing process too difficult or too slow...
  4. Having no "Contact Us" page.......
  5. Having nothing else other than your products on your website....
  6. Using carbon-copies of vendor product descriptions....
  7. Never, ever use your own unique content on other websites....
  8. Don't reveal too much.....
  9. Don't cannibalize your own business by recruiting too many affiliates....
  10. Failure to implement site-wide internal linking architecture & strategies.....
  11. Failure to include a site map....
  12. Failing to use Title & Description Meta Tags and keywords...
  13. Failure to research (& monitor) your own site-specific Keywords.....
  14. Failure to spell out the benefits to the customer clearly and briefly....
  15. Making the mistake of using Free Website Hosting.....
  16. Using cheap, insufficient website hosting....
  17. Failing to provide in-site translation tools or multi-lingual content....
  18. Failure to provide PayPal payment processing (plus additional ones in some countries, too)
  19. Not implementing multiple forms of customer interaction & contact (Newsletters, RSS, Twitter etc)
  20. Not gathering or utilizing Testimonials....
  21. Not realizing the importance of good graphics, images & colors....
  22. Failure to use "Pinging" Services.....
  23. Radically changing the website overnight.....
  24. Cheap-Looking Websites....
  25. Cookie-cutter websites, or mile-long home-pages / landing pages......

 

 

1./ Thinking an E-Commerce website is an easy, quick way to make money...

 

25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid...So, you believed that salesman's hype that just like him you could be dirt-poor & unemployed one minute & then months later you'd be rich and sitting on your yacht, with a leggy blonde trophy wife & working only 4 hours a week. You bought his e-book / course / services and now months later you're realizing that the only one who's getting rich & doing it easy is the lying, thieving shyster you gave your money to.

 

With so much competition today, real, successful online e-commerce businesses require real work, effort, dedication, and knowledge - and they take time (... unless you've just invented the next best thing that everyone needs or wants, and which only you have or can provide....).

 

Remember: if it was really that easy, everyone would be raking in millions....

 

Be prepared to work hard at it & you should eventually see rewards, but don't expect miracles overnight. And expect to have to learn everything about your new business environment.

 

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2./ Forgetting that a website put together in only three days can be replicated by someone else in two.....

 

Enough said really. If you do this, expect to have a million competitors, & a website ranking of  around 27,000,000............. Oh, and expect to go out of business within a very short time  - but hey, it doesn't really matter because you only wasted 3 days anyway......

 

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3./ Making the purchasing process too difficult or slow...

 

25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid...This happens far too often, and it's one of the biggest mistakes any e-commerce website can make. It's like a department store placing large obstacles all around their cash registers, which are only accessible after going around a corner & up 3 flights of stairs!!! Yet so many e-commerce sites do just this by making their purchasing process too long or difficult.

Remember the golden rule of selling anything:

NEVER place any obstacles in the way of a sale - period.
Some common mistakes are:

  • Requiring customers to register before they can purchase products (ludicrous, and highly annoying for the customer too...)
  • Shopping cart process that requires too many pages / steps to complete before the sale is finalized...... (keep it down to1 if possible)
  • Not putting prices upfront & visible (......another of my pet-hates - and many times the prices have been very reasonable too, so I'm sure it results in many lost sales... - just be upfront & honest & don't make your customer click on "Buy Now" just to see the price....)
  • Hard to find (or non-existent...) terms and conditions and other legal documentation the customer may need prior to making a decision to buy..

In short: Make it easy for customers to give you their money, & be upfront & honest so they trust you enough to purchase from you.

 

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4./ Having no "Contact Us" page.......

 

OK, you left out the "Contact Us" page because you thought "I don't want to be contacted at 3am by someone in Timbuktu!". Fine, we understand nobody wants to be working 24/7, but that's no excuse to not be providing this vital information on every e-commerce website. You can get an answering machine or even a mobile phone set to receive messages. You can get a Post Office box to receive snail-mail if you are a home-based business. But if you fail to provide any contact information, prepare to lose many potential sales because of the customers lack of trust.

 

Most people don't trust vendors who don't provide any contact details (and rightly so...)

 

BIS Tip: Websites without a "Contact Us" page can also be refused entry / participation in many things too - ie: Some affiliate programs & some Web Directories insist all participants must have this information publicly available on their sites before they can be accepted........

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5./ Having nothing else other than your products on your website....

 

Many businesses make the deliberate decision to not provide anything other than their products  (or services) on their website so as not to give the visitor any other distractions apart from purchasing..... others just cannot be bothered providing anything that they are not going to earn anything from as they have only one focus – themselves. This tactic is also advised by many marketing "Gurus" & other online "experts".....

 

But here's the thing - if you have nothing else on your website, then if it's not exactly what the customer wants / needs at that exact, specific date in time, they're gone. You also have less with which to attract & or keep the visitor at your site, less material to make them want to return, and less pages for advertising placements or for Google to index, too. Your website will also give out a clear message to the customers subconscious - that "you don't care about me or my needs, just my money"....

 

Here's more good reasons to provide great resources on your site:

  • Having articles and other material related to your business or target market helps build your credibility on that subject
  • A simple salespage only website is easily replicated by your competition......
  • More pages = more pages for Google to index...
  • More pages indexed = better chances of being found (& usually higher ranking).....
  • Better ranking = higher listing in search results so more chance your website will be found.....
  • And good, useful websites usually become popular, bookmarked &/or widely referenced websites, too....

 

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6./ Using carbon-copies of vendor product descriptions....

 

This might be fine for a snippet in say a web-directory listing on your site, however for your e-commerce site's shopping cart or product pages (or worse still, product reviews) it's a no-no. Apart from the duplicated content issue (Google penalizes sites with duplicated content - & chances are those same descriptions will be on hundreds, if not thousands of other websites) it makes your site boring & unoriginal. Either re-arrange or re-write the vendors description altogether, or add your own summary / review underneath.

 

BIS Tip:You can further enhance your site's SEO by allowing customer comments on products, articles etc - this gives your site a constant stream of fresh, new content, 24/7. But be very careful to moderate all comments - leaving un-moderated comments on your site is a recipe for disaster (....apart from the SPAM & links inserted into them, you risk having undesirable or illegal content on your site, which can lead to your site being banned by Google, and loss of web hosting....)

 

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7./ Never, ever use your own unique content on other websites....

 

Why? Because of the content duplication issue. Search engines such as Google don't always know where a certain piece of content first appeared & they can sometimes make mistakes, so it's better to be careful & just avoid it. Either write up another product description that you will use for 3rd party publication (if it's your own product) or use the vendors own distributed product review that is already on hundreds of other sites....

 

BIS Tip: If you are recruiting affiliates of your own, you should prepare some new product information specifically for them to use, so they are not using duplicated content copied from your website...You should also stipulate this in your Affiliate T&C legal documentation. If your affiliates should wish to use an article on your site, request that they link to it instead.

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8./ Don't reveal too much.....

 

Potential customers aren't the only ones who will be visiting your website - your competitors (or future competitors) may also be scouring your site for information too. Don't make it easy for them to find out critical or highly useful information they can use against you, such as internal stats, detailed information on your best selling products, etc.

 

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9./ Don't cannibalize your own business by recruiting too many affiliates....

 

By recruiting too many affiliates to sell your product you may risk the health & profits of your own business (depending on the product of course - if it's ie: something you have created & is protected by a patent, with high-profit margins etc, you may prefer to have an army of affiliates selling it for you.......). Other factors are how popular the product / demand is & how strong the products brand terms are in search engine results - if it is a scarcely / low searched for term / product, you will be competing with your own affiliates when you advertise (....and you will be competing not only for the actual sales / customers, but also bidding against them for the actual advertising terms or keywords!)

 

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10./ Failure to implement site-wide internal linking architecture & strategies.....

 

25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid...What this means in basic terms is pages should be linked to other pages on the site, (....except for certain pages which may need to be left  alone due to  various reasons) and related topics should be displayed too so that your visitors can read more articles if they wish (this can make a big difference to your analytics results, SEO & ranking etc....). This is also where having a well designed & well resourced site can truly make a difference. If you interlink the many pages on your site it increases the chances of visitors finding something by chance they may have missed, and it improves the site's SEO.

 

BIS Tip: You can get software that will link your pages automatically and which displays "Related Articles" according to the article keywords etc - this makes it easy to have an ongoing linking strategy that is effortless and automated.....

 

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11./ Failure to include a site map....

 

Apart from one or two page sites, all websites should include a site map. As well as helping your visitors find what they are looking for, a site map is good for SEO as it will help search engine bots find & index all the pages of your site, & a site map also links to all the pages so they help with SEO in that respect too. The site map link should be visible on your homepage and ideally to every page on your site that is publicly accessible (so the websites "footer" area is a good place to put it). In today's world you really need to have an XML Site Map which can also help submit the files to Google & other search engines.

BIS Tip: The output from XML & other Site Maps often tend to be visually unappealing or can be a mile long etc on large sites, in which case it's a good idea to manually create an additional site map with just the main, top-level items for your (human) visitors to use... If your site is a WordPress website you can get free plugins which will create an attractive, "human" readable sitemap. One such (free) plugin for WordPress is "Dagon Design Sitemap Generator".

For creating XML sitemaps effortlessly in WordPress websites, try "Google XML Sitemaps" plugin by Arne Brachhold or Yoast's SEO plugin (which includes sitemap functionality) - Regards, BIS Admin.

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12./ Failing to use Title & Description Meta Tags and keywords...

 

You need to optimize your website to succeed in today's online business world, and using title meta tags is a crucial factor, as are using description meta tags and keyword meta tags. You can either pay an SEO expert to do this optimization for you (if you can afford it - it requires every single page being worked on etc.....), or use software that can do some of this for you automatically or one which makes it easier for you to manually to include this information (& which is therefore more accurate than using any automated output).

BIS Tip: if you use Joomla! CMS, I can highly recommend using the iJoomla SEO extension, which we personally use on our joomla website - it is a comprehensive SEO tool for Joomla that makes inserting Title, Description & Keyword meta tags a breeze, plus automatic linking and many other features & is well worth the cost.

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25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid...

 

 

13./ Failure to research (& monitor) their own site-specific Keywords.....

 

You need to research the best keywords that are specific for your particular type of business / website. You can use tools that make it easier to find them, analyze them, monitor their effectiveness & so on. Once you know them, you can then use them in the Title Meta Tags, Description meta tags, keyword meta tags, page/menu/article titles etc and also place them inside articles, image titles etc too.

 

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14./ Failure to spell out the benefits to the customer clearly and briefly....

 

Listen, do you really think I or other potential customers have all day to read a mile-long article about "Product A", written in huge clumps of text without paragraphs or sub-headings & no nice images etc? Well I don't, and neither does anyone else (except the unemployed, but then they probably can't afford your products/ services anyway). Keep your sales pages clean-looking, to the point, with nice images & sub-headings that explain your product clearly. And take some time thinking about the benefits your product / service will provide, and communicate those clearly & briefly to me (preferably list them in a bullet-point list where they can be seen instantly ie: near the top of the page)

 

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15./ Making the mistake of using Free Website Hosting.....

 

Well, weren't you just brilliant finding that free web-hosting when all us other twits were stupid enough to actually PAY for our hosting...Silly us, we must have rocks in our heads or have more money than sense....

Thing is, that "Bargain" you snapped up and felt so clever about is most likely going to ensure your business never takes off..... Why?

 

Well, for a start, some reputable web directories refuse to list websites that use free hosting, and that's just the beginning of your cheapskate woes. Some affiliate programs and some advertisers also steer clear of sites using free hosting too, you cannot obtain SSL Certificates from free web-hosting services, it's unlikely to provide a good enough service for most e-commerce websites needs,and your website will most likely suffer in rankings too. Plus the company could go broke /vanish overnight and you could lose all your website files and customers....And that's just listing some of the problems you could encounter.

 

Just don't do it, it's simply not worth the measly $5 - $10+ a month saving.....(and once you can afford it, preferably you should get a dedicated server of your own, too)

 

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16./ Using cheap, insufficient website hosting....

 

Your e-commerce business depends upon it's ability to be constantly online & accessible to the world. Hosting is the life-blood of your business, so you need to ensure it is as good as you can possibly afford, is reliable, secure, fast, and that it uses or provides the best and latest scripts etc (otherwise ie: you may not be able to run certain programs on your website). Hosting is too important to risk using sub-quality services - and moving a website can sometimes be problematic too, so it's best to not have to move hosts too often. Choose carefully & don't scrimp when it comes to hosting.

 

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17./ (Foreign Sites) Failing to provide in-site translation tools or multi-lingual content....

 

It never fails to amaze me that there are still websites written in foreign languages without any form of translation tool* provided for their international visitors. As well as loosing potential sales / customers / visitors, it portrays an arrogance and total lack of care for their visitors in other countries  too - hardly the sort of people I'd like to do business with.
You should ensure that anyone, anywhere can read your website content - if they can't, how do you expect them to buy from you?.

 

AND EVEN IF YOUR SITE IS IN ENGLISH, YOU SHOULD STILL TRY TO PROVIDE SOMETHING FOR YOUR NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING VISITORS....

BIS Tip: You can get free translation tools that you install on your website to make it instantly translate into many languages (ours does about 50, and was free.....) so there's simply no excuse.

* There is now also Google Translate, which is browser based & therefore does not require anything from you - the visitor simply translates your webpages themselves on the fly, using Google translate - but this means your visitors must first know how to find/use it, (not all will) plus sometimes it might not be available.

 

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25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid...

 

18./ Failure to provide PayPal payment processing (plus additional ones in some countries, too)

 

Any e-commerce website without an option for their customers to use PayPal payment processing for it's products or services is insane and deserves to fail. It's the one service that almost every country uses, it is used by E-Bay (so therefore anyone under 30 probably already has a PayPal account.....) Facebook and many others, and it is one of the cheapest merchant banking services available. Customers also like PayPal as it gives them more safety & also some recourse if they are unhappy with a vendors product, and so it is less risky for them which means there are less obstacles in the way of purchasing from you.

You should always try to remove ANY obstacles or barriers you can foresee being in the way of your potential customers.

 

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19./ Not implementing multiple forms of customer interaction & contact (Newsletters, RSS, Twitter etc)

 

  • You should include an opt-in newsletter check-box on your purchasing form
  • You should have a company Newsletter that you send out monthly / bi-monthly (if you are time-poor you can get software that will "Grab" snippets of your latest articles etc & combine it to create a newsletter for you each month......).
  • You should provide RSS Feeds of all your latest articles, product reviews, news etc too.
  • Your company should have at least one social networking account, such as Twitter, Facebook etc.

 

BIS Tip: You can get software that can automatically post updates to Twitter, FB etc - but be warned: too many announcements gets annoying unless you have great articles etc. Do not send newsletters out too frequently either, as that also annoys the hell out of most people...... Remember, they are being bombarded by everyone else too, and never forget that it's also very easy for them to just click unsubscribe / unfollow.........

 

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20./ Not gathering or utilizing Testimonials....

 

Most people are naturally hesitant or disbelieving today, & other customers testimonials about how great your product or service is can go a long way in convincing someone else to actually commit to making a purchase. If you get great feedback you should use it on your site to show your potential customers what they can also expect from your product / service (just don't be dishonest and invent them up or get friends to do them - honesty is essential in both off line & online businesses, if not more so).

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25 Common Mistakes E-Commerce & Start-up Sites Should Avoid...

 

21./ Not realizing the importance of good graphics, images & colors....

 

Just like in the off-line world, visual appeal is all-important. Companies spend millions researching what colors, packaging etc appeal to their target markets, and the online world should be no different. Certain colors produce different responses in people too (red colors used in a restaurant makes people more hungry / eat more, pink makes us think of love etc) so all these factors need to be taken into account when designing an e-commerce website. Any images/graphics used on the site should also be professional, appealing and utilized as much as is possible & is reasonable (and they need to be optimized so they do not make the pages too slow to load)

 

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22./ Failure to use "Pinging" Services.....

 

Pinging (or simply called "Ping") Services are websites that publish articles which are "pinged" to them 24/7 from around the world, so their visitors can have a constant stream of updated, new content to sift through. They are used by article / information type websites & blogs to announce new articles, however e-commerce websites can utilize them too to to promote their product reviews & help attract free traffic & new customers etc. Over time this can also improve the sites ranking & SEO.

BIS Tip: Pinging can be done automatically each time an article is published (or updated) using pinging software, many of which are free. Some website CMS's may also have it already included in their basic packages.

You can also find a list of pinging services I have prepared here: HUGE Ping Services List

 

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23./ Radically changing the website too quickly.....

 

Unless it's really necessary (see points 24 &25..) or is an emergency, or is a total re-vamp & it is a huge improvement, then radically changing your website or making too many changes at once can totally backfire (think of the "Facebook" revamp....).

 

Customers get used to the layout or the look & feel of a site, and changing too much at once can confuse, frustrate or even enrage them. It's much better for established sites to introduce changes slowly, thereby giving customers time to learn the new layout / features over time.

BIS Tip: Anything that requires instructions on how to use XYZ new features etc should have a web-page that clearly explains it & how to use them too. If you've changed the location of something you should also create a page which lists any of the new locations.

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24./ Cheap-Looking Websites....

 

Yep, this is one of my personal pet-hates. You know the ones I'm referring too - those websites that look like the owners 11 year old son or a kind neighbor built them for a few bucks or couple of beers. Tacky colors, clashing colors that make it impossible to read anything without taking an aspirin first, poor navigation (or none at all), cheap home-made banners - I could go on and on.....

 

Your website is your shop-front to the entire world.

Just like in the off-line world, first impressions count. You only have a few seconds / minutes to impress a visitor who visits your website - If your website looks cheap & tatty, then many will assume your business is too.....it also gives the impression that obviously your product isn't any good/popular, or else you would be able to afford a professional-looking website....
BIS Tip: Take a good hard look at your site & see what sort of impression you are sending out to the world - and if you can't see properly with those rose-colored glasses on, get someone else to give you an honest appraisal.

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25./ Cookie-cutter websites, or mile-long home-pages / landing pages......

 

OK, this is a personal opinion only, & maybe these ghastly things work for some people or in some countries , I've no idea, (and no desire to find out either), but this is probably my ultimate, biggest visual pet-hate -  I'm not talking about all of the one-page websites, but those cheezy sites that eg: claim they are going to make you a millionaire overnight etc - I LOATHE these sites. I've encountered hundreds of them (as has just about everyone ...) & I'm just so sick of them now & their loud, cheesy marketing B.S that they make me want to throw up & leave. To date, I've never purchased from one of them (as well as boring me to tears they give me the impression of being untrustworthy) and they all just blur together in my memory as one and the same - in a word, forgettable rubbish. And I don't have the time to read a mile-long page that's just totally unrealistic marketing hype, nor do I care about the Polaroids of your red Ferrari & mansion that you claim I can have one too if I will just give you my hard-earned cash and purchase/sell your crappy e-course/software/e-books etc.

 

Let's face it, if you were truly raking in the dough you'd be able to afford a proper, professional looking website......

 

In my honest opinion these websites give the impression that you are all talk & no substance - and even worse: a snake-oil merchant. The only one getting rich is you - and we all know it, & we prefer to not become another one of your suckers, thank you very much.

 

Summary: First impressions count

 

A visitor to your website will make up their mind about your company within seconds of landing on your site - if your site makes you look like a cheap, snake-oil merchant, then chances are you probably are one (or can/will appear to be one,  in the eyes of your customers).

 

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Karen Banting
Karen Banting is the primary author for Business-In-Site.com and writes about a variety of topics, including: Online Business, SEO, Marketing, Software and more....

Comments (3)

  • August 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm My Bikini Butt Exercises

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    • BIS Admin. October 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm BIS Admin.

      Thanks! Glad you liked it 🙂

  • BIS Admin. February 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm BIS Admin.

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