I think most of you know me as a Prestashop developer. In the beginning I was going to write an article about common mistakes I see Prestashop store owners making, but I changed the focus a little bit. I think the problem extends past Prestashop to just about every e-commerce platform. Are you making the mistakes below? If so, they are hurting your sales and you need to fix them.
So you have opened a super nice store, but how do you get people to come? You have to do SEO on your site to start getting traffic. SEO is a constant job, you cannot just invest an afternoon in SEO and be done with it. You should invest at least a few hours week into your sites SEO to start seeing results in search engines. Create a Google Webmaster Tools account, submit your site map to it. Start creating good quality content for your site and start gaining back links.
How to Fix
- Devote time to SEO everyday
- Read SEO articles
- Hire an SEO expert
If you did not know, good quality original content drives traffic. Not only does it drive search engine traffic, it drives social traffic too. People love to share good content. What do I mean by good content? Do you have good content? Good content is not easy to come by, in fact it is quite hard to be honest. Number one on my content list for e-commerce sites is product descriptions. Product descriptions need to be as through as possible, including every piece of information about your products that you can find. Are you using a product feed? If so you could be using the same descriptions that thousands of other websites are using. This is not good. You need to set your product descriptions apart from your competitors. Do you have a blog? I would recommend every e-commerce site to have a blog that is updated regularly. Blog’s drive traffic to sites, they show up more than products in search results pages. Also, having clear return, shipping, and privacy policies are a must as well, don’t just through up one line or two to get things done.
How to Fix
- Create a blog
- Rewrite your product descriptions
- Hire content writer
Website speed is one of our main, focuses at designhaus42, and for good reason. Website speed has a two fold effect on your store. The first effect is that speed is actually a ranking factor that search engines are now using. Google and other search engines focus on user experience, if your site has a long loading time it provides a bad user experience. The other effect is people leaving your site. People that surf the internet have very low attention spans and if your site takes too long to load people will leave. One thing that a lot of shop owners do not understand is that your website is comparable to a physical location. Think of it this way, if you sell a product but it takes longer to get to your store than other stores that sell the same product, where will buyers buy from? More than likely it will be the other stores.
How to Fix
- Optimize your website
- Use a better host / hosting plan
- Use a CDN
Shipping is a bane of e-commerce shops, most of the time it is either set up in a way that is too complicated for users to understand or a way that is inefficient. Simplify your shipping and you will notice less cart abandonment. In the hundreds of shops I have been in and out of, I can say without a doubt the ones with the simplest shipping methods are the best sellers. What do I mean by simple shipping methods? I generally advise against using the live rate quotes unless you offer express shipping. Live rate services go down all of the time and when they go down, so does your cart. Offer flat rate shipping, I have one client that changed their shipping to $5 for under $50 in products and free for over $50. They doubled their sales just by doing that. The sneaky thing is, all of the prices were raised to pad against the shipping costs, so no money was lost. More money was actually generated on the larger orders of small and light products.
How to Fix
- Check what you competitors do
- Re-evaluate your shipping policies
- Move to flat rates
Pricing is a hot issue with some of my clients, especially the ones that have brick and mortar shops. The one thing I do not think they understand is the markup factor. When you have a physical store, sales associates, utility bills associated with the store, higher markups are justified. In turn when you are paying 1/10th of that or less a month for an e-commerce store, your markups should lower as well. The major retailers even realize this, if you notice a growing number of retailers have online only prices. The reason for that is the carrying cost of the merchandise is cheaper. This is a simple, albeit often overlooked, way to make your store more competitive.
How to Fix
- Re-factor your pricing
- Calculate your true carrying costs
- Be realistic with pricing
Bad customer service and bad reviews will break a company online. You have to be proactive in your customer service approach and squash problems as soon as they arise. One thing I tell my clients to do is to set up Google Alerts for phrases that would indicate bad customer service. If you monitor channels effectively like this, you can intervene and turn a bad situation into a positive situation. Think about this scenario, you are researching buying from a company and you see a review that says someone received a defective product. It might deter you from buying that product. But imagine there is a comment right under the review that says something like this “At our company we pride ourselves in selling the highest quality products. We are so sorry the one you received was defective. If you could please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we will get you another product shipped out immediately for free”. That changes your view on the bad review doesn’t it? Interventions like this not only restore people’s faith in products, but it makes them think your company is awesome.
How to Fix
- Monitor social channels
- Set up Google Alerts
- Be more Proactive
- Put the customer first
About the Author: Lesley Paone
Lesley has worked in e-commerce for over a decade, and is the founder of dh42. Starting out with PrestaShop and brancing out into other platforms like Shopify. He loves all things e-commerce and loves a challenge, in his spare time he helps moderate several forums on SEO, e-commerce, as well as the PrestaShop forum. If you have any questions for him about any of his articles just use our contact form to contact him.