10 Critical Mistakes eCommerce Businesses Often Make

One of the best ways to improve your eCommerce business is to learn from mistakes. Learning from others’ mistakes would save time and probably money, but sometimes the most convincing way to improve is to fail and learn from that.

We want to save your time and money. Check these 10 mistakes that eCommerce merchants make and make sure you avoid them.

1. Not Measuring Important Metrics

There is no reason to do something in your business, if you don’t know the impact and outcome that resulted from it. So the only way to constantly optimize eCommerce business and find a success formula is to measure everything and learn from it.

Some of the most important metrics:

  • Cost of Acquiring a Customer (CAC)
  • Conversion Rate (CR)
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Average Order Value (AOV)
  • Churn
  • Shopping Cart Abandonment

2. Forget to Read at Least One Book About Commerce

eCommerce is primarily traditional commerce. From the beginning of human history commerce has always been one of the world’s engines. Today we have the same concept “buy and sell” or “create and sell”, all we have  changed is the tools we use to operate it.

Those who don’t understand how commerce works and its main principles should not expect success in business.

That’s why every eCommerce professional should know the fundamental principles of traditional commerce.

Goodreads offers a pretty good list of commerce books.

3. “Launch it and They Will Come” Attitude

If you build it, they will not come. Simple rule for all eCommerce entrepreneurs.

There are about 1 billion websites on the internet. Your online store is just 1 billion + 1. Your mission is to build a sustainable marketing channels strategy which attracts traffic in a predictable manner.

Start with:

  1. Search engines (Google, Bing etc). Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and AdWords (paid ads)
  2. Paid Social Media Ads. Use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Youtube. These channels usually have the best conversion rates.
  3. Email Marketing. Build a list of subscribers and send them regular emails. Usually this is the best converting channel in eCommerce.
  4. Digital Advertising. Banners and similar advertising on other websites.

4. Dubious About or Contact Us Page

Don’t underestimate the power of your About Us or Contact Us page. Take a look at your analytical data, these pages should be in the top 5 most visited pages of your online store.

For first time users it’s very important to show that you are running a credible store. Moreover, storytelling sells so create a story of how you started and why are you running this business.

Finally, reveal your location and address. Some of the users need to know your location to estimate customs taxes if they are from another country. Other users just raise the question of trustworthiness and the address tells visitors that the business should be credible. It’s crazy but some of them even visit Google Street View and search for your address.

5. Poor Images

When people are buying online, they can’t touch, try or smell the product. Therefore images are the main resource used to inspect the product.

  • Show multiple angles of the product
  • Have a full-screen sized photo when users click on it
  • Let them zoom in on the image
  • If you offer multiple colors, let them inspect all of the options

6. Using Stock Product Descriptions

That’s a huge mistake. Manufacturer’s descriptions will not differentiate you from other players and will not give you any benefit, especially in search engine results pages.

The solution is simple. Hire a freelancer who has experience in eCommerce. Your descriptions shouldn’t be as short as a tweet or as long as a romance, they just need to be descriptive. Engaging and informative descriptions show your customers how your product will solve their problems and why it’s worth buying.

7. Forgetting Customer Retention by Focusing Only on User Acquisition

It’s 7 times more expensive to secure a new customer than to retain an existing one. Simple business logic.

Moreover, a loyal customer base gives your business sustainability and predictability.

Small – medium sized online stores should spend 30% of their time and money resources on customer retention and 70% on user acquisition.

We’ve published The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce Customer Retention, so you can learn how to build a loyal customer base and where to invest in order to retain your customers.

8. No Customer Service on Checkout

When a user makes a decision, your mission is to simply take the money. However, users abandon the checkout often, and one of the main reasons is that they experience issues which raise questions but there is nobody available to help them.

The best option is to have a live chat in the left bottom corner. A big phone number at the top works as well. Ideally, offer 3 options: live chat, email support and the phone number. You’ll be surprised how many users at the checkout contact you with their questions and issues.

9. Not Enough Time & Money Investments Into Website

Your website is the one and the only tool which closes deals. You could have an amazing marketing program or outstanding customer service, however, if your website looks ugly and works poorly, don’t expect any success in eCommerce business.

In our previous article we analyzed how an eCommerce website should work and look.

One of the key elements that amateur eCommerce merchants sometimes underestimate is internal search. Those people who have a high intent to buy usually use the search box to find products. On average this is about 30% of all visitors.

10. Poor Mobile Shopping Experience

According to Shopify, more people use mobile devices for shopping instead of computers, and that is no surprise.

It’s much easier to access an online store anywhere, easily find and choose a product and simply checkout. But, if it’s not that easy – people will soon visit to other online stores.

Your mission here is to build a well working mobile website with a beautiful design and easy-to-access customer support.


eCommerce is not an easy business. But if you learn, optimize and respond to market changes, there is every chance of succeeding in eCommerce.

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