Once upon a time, an online shop was launched. The branding and messaging of the online shop were spot on, and so were the product images. After the shop went live, and customers loved to buy products and goods on it. Traffic increased. Things were off to a good start. Until… for some reason the would-be customers suddenly started to abandon their shopping carts and the site’s search engine rankings dropped. Inevitably, revenue dropped, leaving the company in the scramble to adapt, but struggeling with their inflexible eCommerce system.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the things that went wrong for this shop, so you can learn what to look out for and what to avoid when it comes to building your own online shop.
7 Common Online Shop Issues and How to Avoid Them
The eCommerce business in our story neglected some important aspects of building a successful online shop and lost valuable business – let’s start with the most pressing issues. What mistakes were made that you can avoid?
Problem 1: Fail to Scale
The online shop of horror in our story clearly failed to adapt the system quickly enough. Over the long-term, too much online traffic without an increase in server capacity can lead to slow page speed, a laggy user experience, and a lot of abandoned carts. Also, especially when working with a self-built or legacy platform, the codes and databases of your online shop might be overloaded and cluttered the more functionalities are added. Furthermore, online shops may experience issues with the synchronization between their various tools, causing friction. This, too, can lead to performance issues.
But how to avoid this? All your tools need to be able to scale and be adapted. Cloud-based systems offer you the best flexibility and scalability because they can quickly assign more resources to your site as needed. Having a clean, less complex architecture will furthermore facilitate scaling single components and increase the reliable performance of the shop system as a whole.
Problem 2: Not Keeping up with Trends
Another aspect that kept the shop in our scenario from being successful? Not being on top of the game and failing to provide a truly seamless experience. To keep attracting new customers, your online shop needs to keep up with the latest trends in eCommerce, one of them being omnichannel commerce. For many brands, in-store experiences play an equally as important role as the online journey and connecting those two sets you up for a unique shopping experience.
This of course includes services such as Click & Collect or Click & Reserve, which many businesses are now already offering. But it doesn't stop there: How about selling off last season's store stock online or offering offline exclusives for reservation online and in-person pickup as well? Your retail store can be turned into a fulfillment center thanks to a POS app. Want to step it up a notch? Give your customers recommendations based on their previous purchases in the fitting room, which they can try on and take with them on the spot.
It needs a strong technical base to create such a seamless shopping experience. To add new tools and functionalities for your various touchpoints, a modular architecture comes in handy. A modular eCommerce system allows you to pick and choose on the go from only the functionalities you need to create the perfect customer experience. API-first systems ensure that you can also integrate whatever third-party tools you might need to make your customers happy. A headless system helps you to serve all these new points of sale (POS) simultaneously.
Problem 3: Inconvenient Search
Customers need to be able to find the product they’re looking for quickly, conveniently, and easily. If your product search isn’t optimized and doesn’t allow a broad range of searches, you’re losing business. Ideally, you should look for a search feature that offers suggestions and auto-complete functionality. This will help your online shoppers and potential customers discover what they are looking for.
Problem 4: Slow Page Load Speeds
If your online shop loads slowly, it can cost you money in two different ways: First, you could lose traffic from search engines, because Google and other search engines penalize slow sites. Secondly, once customers are on your site, the pages need to load quickly, or they will lose interest. Thus, side speed is critical for SEO and eCommerce sales.
The solution here is to opt for an eCommerce solution with a clean infrastructure and fast hosting needed for quick page loading times. You should also take additional steps to ensure maximum page loading speed, such as using caching, server-side rendering, and ensuring that your online shop’s images have been compressed.
Problem 5: Inconvenient Checkout Process
Customers are busy and get easily distracted. Chances are high that your shoppers don't make it through the checkout process. The payment processor Stripe released a study last year showing that 96 percent of eCommerce sites in North America had at least five errors that made the checkout process slow for online shoppers. And 20 percent of the shoppers surveyed said they would abandon their purchase completely if the checkout process took longer than one minute. But it is not just speed that plays an important role for the customer during the checkout process!
To provide customers with the perfect online shopping experience, it is essential to provide a streamlined, easy-to-use checkout process. Anything else will lose customers – and revenue. To avoid this, you need to ensure the following:
several payment methods that are preconfigured
different choices for carrier & shipping
check-out with one click
Problem 6: Inconsistencies in Product Data Quality
You know that keeping up product data quality is essential to your success as a business. However, maintaining consistency and accuracy can be difficult and time-consuming. That's where a product information management (PIM) system comes in handy.
A PIM system allows you to manage all of your product data in one place. Having one database for all product information means faster and easier management overall since it’s easier to keep track of inconsistencies and make updates across all products simultaneously. Additionally, using an attribute-based system enables you to refine products universally and automate workflows, which can save time and effort.
Problem 7: Unexpected Costs Add up Quickly
Depending on your online shop system, there will be fees for updates and maintenance, or extra charges for increased server space as your traffic grows. To avoid issues with your commerce platform provider, be sure to consider all the expected costs for their system, and consider looking for a provider with a tailored offering, including the services that only cost you resources, time, and effort while you could invest all that into what makes your brand unique.
The End of the Horror Story: Thrive in the Long-Term
Online shopping should not be complex, but making it easy is. To stay competitive in the long term, the online shop of horrors mentioned in the beginning needs to adapt to the customer's needs, create a unique shopping experience, and optimize every part along the customer journey, both today and in the future. The best way to do that is by choosing a system that gives the shop the flexibility you need to adapt and grow – no matter what life and business throw at it.