It’s the marketing. Nope, it’s the product page, or maybe the checkout. Better yet, it’s probably the fact that we don’t have enough of an online presence. If you’re not happy with how well your eCommerce store’s doing and you’re drawing a blank in terms of what to do about it, these might be some of the reasons you’re reaching for. And you couldn’t pick a more unproductive route to go. Then again, there’s always the abysmal option of making customers order via email but I digress.
Let’s look at the most likely culprits flooring your sales figures and how to fix them.
Your Product Sucks
There’s really no way of easing into it. The harsh reality is that there are heaps of crappy products out there, with the common misconception being, that a branding and communications fairy is going to come along and magically create value around it. It’s only a matter of finding this very competent fairy. No, the irony is by no means misplaced here, since these types of expectations are akin to childhood fantasies and daydreams.
If your product has any type of real value, that’s a product a good team can work with and a great team might even succeed with. However, if your product has no application in the real world, it’s not useful to anyone, it doesn’t improve anything or make anyone feel better about themselves, then it’s time to face the music and admit that your products simply cannot be sold in its current form.
Instead of committing even more resources to advertising this product, take some time to properly understand it and improve it. Learn what your customers expect from such a product, what they need from it and how they feel about it. Once you’ve devised a new product formula, one that is actually of some use to your audience, then and only then, should you consider investing in augmenting marketing budgets or revamping your eCommerce store.
Your eCommerce Store Sucks
Having a good-enough eCommerce store hasn’t been enough for a decent number of years and the only reason why we’re still stumbling upon abysmally-designed stores is because people are too complacent and do not understand the serious consequences their actions have on their respective businesses.
I don’t care what industry you’re in, if your store sucks, your customers will go elsewhere. In fact, studies have shown that 79% of users will search another website if your content is not optimized. Still not convinced that your eCommerce business’ future greatly depends on the performance of your store? Here’s some food for thought – By 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
This is the point when a client would usually try to counter this argument by saying Our competitors have even crappier web sites. So your competitive advantage is that your entire pool of competitors is lazier, more complacent and more broke than you are. Is this what you’re trying to build a successful business on? Really? Think about it; it really only takes a single store owner in your market segment to get his/ her act together and your entire business foundation has gone down the drain.
Useless Product Descriptions
Sometimes completely discarded, but more often, treated superficially, product descriptions are one of the most neglected features within eCommerce stores and, with nobody showing them otherwise, store owners have trouble seeing their value beyond SEO. Which brings me to one of the biggest challenges within this industry – SEO.
SEO used to be digital marketing’s hype-man. Back then, being relevant online and doing SEO went hand in hand and SEO gurus made sure people knew about it. Of course, today, digital marketing is much more of a multi-faceted affair but some of SEO’s initial hype stuck. People know it’s a good thing, don’t really know what it means beyond link building and keywords, but the important thing is to do SEO and product descriptions are the biggest losers in this equation.
They’re often seen like nothing more than a means to keep search engine crawlers happy, with little to no regard for their enormous potential. If people don’t understand what the product is about, what makes it worth the price you’re asking and, most importantly, how it’s going to make their lives miles better, you’re missing out on a great resource for improving your eCommerce store’s potential. Instead of stuffing keywords and writing content for search engines, write product descriptions that actually persuade people and sell.
Horrendous Product Images
Another amazing resource for eCommerce stores that’s often treated like boxed wine is the product gallery. In this case, however, store owners take more of a good-enough approach, meaning if it’s good enough for them then it must be good enough for consumers.
Depending on the types of products we’re talking about, this decision can lead to consequences ranging from embarrassment, poor product performance or down-right failure. Here’s why. People buy with their sense more than their wits, it’s a reality not an offensive statement. When a man is buying a suite he needs to see the fabric, when a woman is buying an angora sweater she needs to feel how soft it is and when you’re ordering food, you need to be able to taste how deliciously satisfying it’s going to be.
An eCommerce store brings the added challenge of not allowing potential buyers to interact directly with the products they might be interested in. It’s up to designers, photographers, copywriters and advertisers to find solutions that allow customers to reconnect with the product and experience it. One of the most effective ways of doing that is through products images that don’t suck.
Tiny-weeny Advertising Budgets
If I were to tell you I want you to get me a ticket on Etihad’s first class private suite but I only have enough money for a bus fair downtown, how would you get it done? That’s exactly how everyone in this industry feels when clients ask for the a sports car but can’t even afford the parking fee.
Leaving service providers’ fees aside, although we really shouldn’t, platforms themselves each require a certain budget to yield results and if you go below the minimum two things will happen. The first is that you’ll spend the money and not much else will happen and the second, that it will take ages to gather enough info to enable those stretching your budget to take any informed action. Either way, you’ll end up frustrated and questioning the abilities of the people you’ve hired.
It’s important to remember that your competitors aren’t lurking in some obscure corner of the Internet, they’re likely investing in the same channels as you are and even if they’re not, the complex game of online advertising is played on a board with a finite number of squares. If you’re not battling someone in your own industry for a spot, you’re definitely wrestling someone in an adjacent one. This doesn’t mean businesses with smaller budgets should pack up and go back to telemarketing. It simply means that you should reallocate budgets or save up and run very targeted campaigns following the recommendations of people whose job is to come up with these strategies.
You’re Not Competitive Enough
Are you a retailer selling red umbrellas and are unhappy with your eCommerce store’s performance? You might want to check out what your competitors are doing. If you’re competing against retailers selling the same products consider how your store differs from these other eCommerce shops.
If you can’t come up with a clear difference within 30 seconds..there’s your answer. Potential customers make snap decisions online and within seconds of accessing your website they’ll decide if they like you, trust you and even if they’ll ever do business with you. Now, if you can’t come up with a clear advantage for your store and why consumers should chose it over others, you shouldn’t expect customers to be able to tell either.
As a retailer, it’s essential that you find and build your brand around a competitive advantage and no, you can’t reach for price every single time. You, your creative and development team will have to build a positive shopping experience for the users, in order to make your store memorable and, most importantly, the obvious choice.
Customers Don’t Trust You Enough
When shopping online there’s a certain level of trust your customer has to afford a business in order to spend money with them, especially if they haven’t shopped there before. Aside from all the badges and policies crammed in your footer, people need to hear from other shoppers.
Reviews, and especially verified reviews, are a great way of proving that your store is a safe place to shop and that the products it sells work as advertised. Thankfully, there are many ways of including such a feature in an eCommerce store but reviews can reach way beyond a store, making things a lot more complicated.
For one thing, you might not even have a clue where a review is posted or you might not be able to address a complaint. Most often, however, unhappy customers will attempt to contact the store to fix the problem. That’s not to say they won’t go about it very publicly, especially in today’s public-shaming prone world. Making sure your customer care is above board is absolutely essential in keeping your current customers happy and building confidence with your future ones.
You’re Selling, Just Not As Much As You’d Like
If any of the above resonates with your store and you don’t know how to fix it, odds are you’ve, at least once, resorted to saying Why isn’t my store selling? or Why isn’t this working? In reality, your store might actually be selling, just not as much as you’d like. The issue here being that you might have set unrealistic expectations both for your product’s and your store’s potential.
Actual digital professionals will tell you when you’ve got an issue with your products, store, budgets and whatever else is negatively impacting your online business. And when they do, you’ve got one job – Listen!
The success of your online business is fundamentally linked to the performance of your eCommerce store, the usefulness of your product page, the adequate allocation of resources and budgets and the efficient communication between you and whoever is in charge of delivering all of the above. Within this complex equation, challenging the value of the solutions provided by someone who’s been at this for a lot longer than a client, is right up there with shooting yourself in the foot.
Of course, we get very excited by some projects (yes, only by some) and, in wanting to deliver the best possible product, we reach for best-case-scenario strategies and budgets. However, not having bottomless pockets doesn’t mean you can’t get an excellent result. It does mean that you can’t get it all on a dime and you’ll either have to cut down on some of the things you want or find the resources to fund the features and campaigns you’d like to run.