5 Ways to Ruin Your eCommerce Website

We’ve had a lot of questions on the forums recently about how website owners can make sure that their websites are up to scratch and serving their purpose of attracting business and facilitating sales.

To help you learn the dos and don’ts of eCommerce websites, I’ve listed the top 5 ways you can actually ruin your chances of making a sale on your eCommerce store so you will know what to avoid in order to makes more sales!

1. Don’t display shipping costs and information. This is a big one that I see too often on eCommerce websites.

Shipping information is something that all potential buyers want to see before they commit to buying. Make sure you display shipping information clearly.

Here’s a great example of a site that does a good job of displaying their shipping information:

As you can see, there is a clear message that shipping is free to 48 states and above that, there is a link to shipping, returns and tax information so that buyers can get further information such as delivery times and return policies.

Make sure you have a link from your homepage direct to your shipping information on your website so that buyers can easily access this information.

2. Make sure the first thing your site visitors you see is a flashy introduction.

News flash: Customers don’t want to see a slow-loading, bells and whistles, they just want a simple-to-navigate site and a great deal on items for sale. If a buyer arrives at your website and has to download a flash player or a plug-in or has to endure watching an intro video before they can view your store, they will click the “Close Tab” button pretty quick!

3. Overstuff your website content with keywords you want to rank for.

This is a big no-no for two good reasons:

a) It looks highly unprofessional and spammy so buyers will be turned off immediately
b) Going too crazy with keywords is frowned upon by search engines and will no doubt result in poor search engine rankings, making it hard for buyers to even find your website.

Keep your keyword density at an optimal level by having a targeted keyword appear every 100 or so words. For more on keyword density and search engine optimization techniques, see here.

4. Fail to include a search feature

Web users are so used to searching for what they want now that not having a search function would be a big mistake!

Think about it: What’s the first thing a buyer does when they come to eBay? Nine time out of ten, they use the search feature to find the item they are looking for.

The best place to put your search function is at the top right-hand corner of your website, just like we do on SaleHoo.

5. Insist that buyers must register or create an account to purchase an item from you.

If you only act on one of my five points I have listed, please, oh please, make sure it’s this one!

I cannot tell you the number of times I have abandoned a website at the checkout because I can’t be bothered fussing around creating a user name and filling out a form in order to become a member of the site before I can buy an item.

You need to do everything you can to make sure that is it easy for a buyer to make a purchase, so if you are currently forcing buyers to sign up before they can buy, stop!

Which of these 5 website faux pas have you committed?


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Comments (16)

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Jerry on 17:03 9 Mar
Good morning ! This is one of those rare occasions, in which everything I read, made sense. Your 5 don't-do's, are pretty much the reason, why most people never make it to the check-out line. All of the fancy sites with music, flashing things, etc. and I'm going to another store....there exists such a phenomenon, known as info-overload. You are selling & they are looking to buy, so help your customer enjoy their visit to your business site. Have a great day !
Colette - TopCat2x2 Wood on 19:29 9 Mar
Just goes to show you can never stop learning. Here I was thinking I had all the bases covered but turns out I'm guilty of number 4, not having a 'website' search function. Thanks, Alice, I'll be looking into correcting that little oversight. As for my own pet peeve when visiting a website . . . number 5!!! I've been to sites where you had to sign up just to look around. So whether it's just looking or buying, if I have to sign up first I'm gone. :)
June on 0:16 10 Mar
I found your information very helpful, especially the one on asking potential customer to set up an account. I just want to buy and go! So will drop this site (sale loss for seller) and go somewhere else.
Anne on 3:58 10 Mar
Great info; but, there is one thing that I really hate about shopping on a manufacturer's website; and that is, when you contact the sales person in charge of their products; and they don't give you the exact info that you have requested from them in your email, it just makes things very hard and difficult for you as a potential reseller/customer/purchaser of their products. Sales people should give resellers/customers/ purchasers, a price list/quote in every email that they send out to people. Even if, the price of the item[s] was posted on their website. This is because, as a potential reseller/customer/ purchaser, you are out diligently looking and looking for the right item for your company to purchase and easily resell to make a profit. So everyone please, oh please, DO include a price list [and even a picture] of what you are selling to potential buyers/resellers through email correspondence. Otherwise, you could lose a potential customer REALLY FAST. Remember, there are other companies out there that are selling the same item [who WILL treat you like a real human being]; and, not like a robot!
Keith on 10:14 10 Mar
Great advice, especially No. 5. This is my pet hate and the biggest turn off ever. I have a business in Spain, and so many of the Spanish websites insist that you sign up and give your full ID before you can buy. Some even make you sign up BEFORE you can see the products. I get so frustrated with this that I usually order from the UK or US.
Jameson on 14:53 10 Mar
In a past life I ran a receipt printer supplies site and understand the issues concerning shipping. We had two challenges (1) receipt paper was heavy, 20 to 32 lbs and inaccurate shipping rates could result in drastically overcharging (scaring the customer away) or undercharging (loosing money) (2) or website could not speak directly with our order-management system or our UPS/FedEx accounts. I solved this problem by creating picking compromise rate fort he lower 48 and then not worrying about loosing money on any one order. As long as my shipping account was in the black at the end of the month I was okay. The worst possible option that my eCommerce platforms offer is the shipping by item or order cost method. No one wants to pay $50 dollars to shipping an expensive light weight items, just because it is expensive. If you are using this method, it is likely the reason your shopping cart abandonment rate is so high.
rob Mandrak on 19:08 10 Mar
I thought I knew everything but EVERY DAY WE LEARN SOMETHING NEW. I found that search box on the right hand side is vital for users. Even if your web is easy to use. some customer like to use that a lot. As far as displaying the shipping price or not. I have to look in further details and see what to do about it. rob rodriguez reff llc
Alice Delore on 19:42 10 Mar
Thanks guys!

Glad we are in agreement about not wanting to sign in before we buy something!

@TopCat, if not having a search function is the only faux pas your website has committed, you're doing OK! ;)
Sang Min Park on 1:55 11 Mar
The last one I strongly agree with. There's nothing more annoying than getting to the checkout page, and being told I need to register. I usually just leave the site and not purchase anything.
Ithamar on 11:15 11 Mar
I like this post, but I have a question about, number five. What if you wanted to build a list of email addresses? I am new and I've heard that email follow-up campaigning was an effective way to generate repeat business (i.e., 20% off your next purchase). Is there a way to collect an email address without offending the masses by making them "join"?
Sade on 15:46 13 Mar
I've been researching SaleHoo for a while, looking for way to shorten my learning curve into selling on eBay, with no experience at all , except writing blogs and affiliate programs. But after reading this short article, I'm impressed by the knowledge gained by Alice in 5 don'ts ..now that I 'm ready to join and hoping for success . Alice
Jerry Fouts on 0:49 14 Mar
I've talked to SaleHoo management in the past but would like to look at his merchandise. Tuesday, the 15th of March anytime between 1-3 PM EST. I'm very pleased with the website that's being constructed. I'm am pleased with the website you will notice we have some items listed already but will be moved to the beginning of the website with it's first entry. The miscellaneous will be moved to the end of the website. This should be ready by next week. I would like to know timing and my part in conjunction with SaleHoo. Also potential cost on my part.
Irene Vallejo on 5:21 14 Mar
@Jerry: For us to be able to assist you, kindly send us your questions at http://www.salehoo.com/support Thanks!
Alice Delore on 21:48 15 Mar
@fenway2k : Excellent question!

I think one of the best ways to collect email/contact details is to offer an incentive.

For example, have a newsletter opt-in box on your website and offer buyers a 25% discount (for example) on their next purchase when they sign up.

Also try to point other the benefits of receiving the newsletters to make it more alluring to them. For example, you could tell buyers that will receive notifications of special offers and prices, or alerts when new products are listed on your site.

Here's a good example of a site with a good incentives message: http://www.coffeecup.com/email/ (though I would definitely put this info and opt-in form on the homepage, rather than a separate page).
John Zwikstra on 22:33 13 Jun
Hi Alice, Great advice but In have one small problem. I am trying to get some info on the SaleHoo websites so I can create but can't look at the templates until after I purchase. Also some of the sample sites do not show HTTPS for secure registration.
Alice Delore on 21:06 14 Jun
Hi John,

To get an idea of the templates, it's best that you have a look at some of the SaleHoo Stores that are up and running. You can try http://www.squashways.co.nz/ and http://www.watches-galore.com/ and http://www.ausbargainbasement.com/

To secure your site, this is easily solved by purchasing an SSL certificate for $69. Cheers :)


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