Consumers are shopping online these days for everything from household necessities and entertainment to food and meal delivery. COVID-19 has certainly driven an increase in this behavior, but even when the pandemic eventually moves to our rearview mirror the shift to eCommerce is unlikely to slow down. In fact, it’s likely to accelerate. Before the pandemic, experts had predicted that by 2040 around 95% of all purchases would be facilitated by eCommerce. Now, with the significant uptick in online shopping, it’s not a stretch to say we could reach that number even sooner.
As you explore how to best reach and engage your online customers, you may need to revamp your current eCommerce plan. And if you don’t have a plan already, you might be building one from the ground up to respond to growing demand from your audience and capitalize on a new revenue stream. While there is lots of information out there on how to create and implement a successful eCommerce plan, it’s just as important to understand the pitfalls that can derail your best efforts.
Here’s a closer look at what can trip you up along the way and how to avoid it.
1. Lack of transparency
Consumers want to know they can trust your brand, which means the moment they land on your site they’ll be looking for evidence that your business is being straight with them. You can’t cultivate trustworthiness and reliability with your customers without a healthy dose of transparency. A couple of ways you can address this include:
- Speaking to all questions and concerns. Especially during COVID when changes in shipping, delays, out of stock items, and other hurdles have directly affected the customer experience, it’s critical to be clear and provide regular updates on how your business is handling these and other challenges. Honest communication, even during the best of times, is what builds confidence in your brand.
- Asking for feedback. There may be points during the online shopping process where customers are continually dropping out, or other friction that you may be unaware of but causes a lot of frustration. A good way to handle this is to offer customers easy ways to provide feedback directly on your site at key points during the purchase process. That way, you don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn everything you can about your customers and their shopping experience so you can make improvements and earn continued loyalty.
2. Less-than-stellar mobile experience
In 2020, many consumers expect to use their smartphones and mobile devices to make online purchases. It’s a convenience factor for them and a crucial test for your brand. If you ignore how your website translates to mobile, it’s a quick way to lose a significant segment of potential buyers.
How to build mobile success into your eCommerce plan:
- Optimize website design for all devices. If online shoppers try to navigate a site on a smartphone when the site clearly hasn’t been optimized for mobile, they get very frustrated. Searching for products, selecting items, and completing the purchase has to work as seamlessly on every mobile device just as it does on a desktop computer, which means you need to be prepared to continually tweak and improve the mobile interface.
- Offer secure payment. As more consumers shop using their devices, they’ll demand secure methods of payment that don’t require them to save credit card information on their phone. Mobile payment systems that store credit card information in the cloud—rather than on the smartphone or device itself—gives users a convenient and secure way to make purchases via mobile. When payment is simple and secure, you can increase mobile conversion rates.
3. Failure to advertise on digital channels
Since nearly every consumer is online nowadays, digital ads can help you reach them where they spend most of their time and demonstrate how you can meet their needs. However, not investing enough time or resources into digital advertising will essentially hand over potential customers to the competition.
How to build effective digital advertising into your eCommerce plan:
- Capitalize on your competition’s weaknesses. Supply chain problems and delivery slowdowns present a great opportunity to advertise to your competitors’ customers, especially if you’ve got inventory, shipping, and delivery dialed in. Our research shows that online shoppers are not afraid to walk away from a brand if they don’t provide a great eCommerce experience. But they still need the product, giving you an opportunity to swoop in and offer a solution to their frustration.
- Be strategic about where you advertise. Recent changes in advertising spend from some of the bigger retail players have opened the door for smaller brands and businesses to advertise on digital channels more easily and cost-effectively. You can get your ads in front of more consumers these days than you may have been able to in the past.
Take eCommerce to the next level
But avoiding these eCommerce mistakes takes more than just following the advice outlined here. Every brand is unique, and an online selling strategy should be informed by insights from trusted market research providers who speak with real consumers. By doing so, you can learn a tremendous amount about opportunities for product innovation, key audiences, creative and messaging, and the health of your brand that you can apply to eCommerce and other aspects of your overall brand strategy.