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E-commerce mistakes that can be costly to retaining customers

This is a guest post by Wiebke Reile and Lailan Ghafur. Lailan and Wiebke work together as the SearchFit Marketing Team. Lailan was born and raised in San Diego and works as marketing coordinator for SearchFit. She received her degree in Linguistics from UCSC and is currently living in Encinitas, CA. Wiebke has been social media strategist for the last eight years in the Internet Industry. She has also professionally worked in the film and television industry as a documentary film editor in New York City. Currently, she is a researcher for the University of Hawaii and pursuing her doctorate degree in Communication and Information Sciences.

When you're in e-commerce, it's important to be on top of your platforms, customer personas, special offers, and user experience in order to retain your clients. We've been in the industry long enough to see trends surface regarding the most common e-commerce mistakes that cost customers. We break it down in this article.

Not choosing the best e-commerce shopping cart platform

Choosing the best e-commerce shopping cart platform is essential to having a successful business. When making your decision, look for platforms with free trials or demo versions. check to see whether platform developers offer

Peer reviews can also be a useful resource since they offer first-hand accounts. Understand your budget and specific needs, such as integration requirements, and make sure the platform meets all your design needs (mobile responsive or mobile-first).

Traditionally, e-commerce platforms have two different types of offerings: .M or Mobile dedicated and responsive sites. On mobile dedicated sites, you can decide which version of your website users get.

For example, on mobile phones you usually want to only load the most necessary information as quickly as possible. That way, you only use the data you need, and desktop versions of the site do not have to be shrunken down to mobile size, which sometimes can lead to distorted graphics and layouts.On the other hand, mobile dedicated websites don’t offer the same kind of versatility as the responsive and hybrid solutions. With mobile dedicated sites, you essentially lock the user into the mobile view, this can cause problems when some features are not available in the mobile view and the user has to resort to viewing the desktop version on a mobile device. This creates a poor user experience. Another disadvantage is the possibility of running into a duplicate content

On the other hand, mobile-dedicated websites don’t offer the same kind of versatility as the responsive and hybrid solutions. With mobile dedicated sites, you essentially lock the user into the mobile view. This can cause problems when some features are not available in the mobile view and the user has to resort to viewing the desktop version on a mobile device. This creates poor user experience. Another disadvantage is the possibility of running into a duplicate content issue. With mobile dedicated sites, you have two separate sets of the website, which can lead to a disjointed experience.

Responsive sites are perfect for imagery and art dedicated sites, since they don't distort graphics in any way. Responsive sites respond to different elements when viewed on devices of different sizes. You only have one version of the website and you don’t run into the same problems as you would with mobile dedicated sites. The downside is that responsive sites do not allow you to view desktop versions of sites. In other words, if you have a feature you can’t see using a mobile site, you have to use another device.

Not knowing the customer

Reviewing audience demographics can be very useful to e-commerce businesses. The television industry has long been studying how best to sell products through advertising using audience demographics and viewing habits. The Internet is no different when it comes to the importance of understanding your customer’s needs.

Know who your customers are so you can help their decision process. The traditional brick and mortar shop allows a salesperson to actively gauge the success of a store by viewing customers in real-time. The Internet is not a physical space, but you can monitor the success of your store with conversion analytics and bounce rates. There are a variety of reasons for high cart abandonment rates: complicated checkout, hidden pricing during checkout, lengthy registrations, and limited payment options.

Part of understanding your customer is understanding the customer acquisition cost; the average of what it costs the company to acquire a new customer.

This metric became useful when Internet companies starting using PPC and advertising campaigns to try and gain new clientele. The customer acquisition cost is important to investors and company owners, who can use it to understand the scalability and profitability of an e-commerce website. This metric looks at the current relationship between gaining a customer and how that money is spent acquiring a customer.

Not thinking coupons and discounts through

Gimmicks do not drive sales, but providing your customers with coupons and discounts can drive initial sales. This strategy is taxing on e-retailers, as coupons can be difficult to handle when there is time deadline or limited audience. You'll also run into the danger of creating customers who are only interested in discounts.

Instead of coupons, try implementing a newsletter with percentage discounts. Percentage discounts incentivise customers to spend more, while dollar amounts are more constraining. It's difficult to predict what your customers need, so a percentage discount gives your customers the choice to customize.

Remember is to making separate landing pages for coupons. Having a separate landing page reinforces the details of a promotion and provides instructions and restrictions. Make sure the words on your coupons are eye-catching, simple, and mirrored on your landing page.

Urging your customers to register

According to the Nielson Norman Group, the most common complaint about e-commerce usability is registration. Many customers never plan on making a second visit, so forcing your customers to register to make a purchase can deter sales.

Requiring registration can increase shopping cart abandonment, as the beginning of the checkout system will set the tone for the entire transaction. The more steps to register, the higher the time investment for customers. According to Baymard Institute 67.45% of online shopping carts are abandoned when a registration is required.

One easy way to encourage your customers to register without requiring it is to demonstrate the benefits of registration, like being able to track your orders or checking out more quickly.

Bombarding customers with pop-up ads

Google announced that they will start penalizing a websites ranking if they use interstitial advertisements, especially on mobile. These types of advertisements, otherwise known as pop-ups, can block out relevant content and make it hard for users to see the content they wish to see, thus creating a horrible and frustrating user experience. Closing the ads are often difficult and misleading.

According to VIEO Design, pop-up ads have a 73% disapproval rating and found that people are overwhelmed and feel stalked by digital ads, and 81% of people have closed a website due to a pop-up digital advertisement.

The solution? Think about ads like a salesperson following you a store. Would you say what your ad says to a customer in person? If it doesn't add value, don't bother them. Negative experiences will stay with a consumer and tarnish a website.

Having a poor checkout process

Keep your checkout process simple, linear, and user-friendly. Having too many screens or complex instructions could create problems and deter sales.

When the customer feels that there could be a breach of their private information they are more likely to quit completing the process. According to Statista, 17% of customers will abandon their shopping cart if they feel that there are concerns about their payment security.

A process indicator is one way to make a multi-step checkout process more friendly, since it shows the customers which stage of the checkout process they are at.

Having a description for each field during the check-out process is crucial to thwarting any technical issues that might lead to cart abandonment.

Hiding essential information

According to Statistica, 56% of shopping cart abandonment is due to unexpected costs, which is the number one reason. Customers are often in a hurry or are shopping for a specific event; If shipping estimates are not clearly stated, they will most likely go to another website with that will give more exact estimates.

Unfortunately, people tend to wait until the last minute to buy important things, so accurate shipping times can make or break to a sale. Delivery options are particularly important when it comes to certain holidays throughout the year where there is a high level of gift giving. Online shopping holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday garner a certain level of expectations for delivery options.

Consumers have these expectations: clear and reliable tracking, active and appropriate levels of communication with the customer, reasonable shipping costs, and excellent support for the delivery.

Having a wide variety of delivery options encourages the shopper to shop online more because it guarantees a certain level of gratification. Some retailers offer membership programs that provide free or discounted shipping, and giving the shopper a choice between shipping options will help to set expectations and customize your clients' ideal experience.

Not having a marketing plan

The primary mode of e-commerce communication isn't via phone and speaking, as in traditional sales. Email plays an important role in e-commerce, yet a lot of business are completely unaware of the fact that email marketing is the most inexpensive method for retaining customers and gaining potential buyers. By using email marketing, business owners can speak directly to their customers.

Some tips for e-commerce emails;

  • Have a clear subject line
  • Content should provide value
  • Have a professional sign-off and add your email signature
  • Don't assume your customers immediately know what you're talking about (especially if they don't deal with your product on a day-to-day basis)
  • Proofread and edit
  • Respond quickly

When making purchases, many users rely on their community to help them make a purchase. This is called distributed commerce, where they'll look to social media, forums they frequent, making purchasing products easy. Connect with users beforehand on these platforms and identify your target audience. By being able to see reviews and comments about each product, shoppers are aided by others to follow through on their purchase. These reviews and rankings also give the shopper a higher sense of confidence that they made the “right purchase,” as they convey trust.

Anything we missed? Send us your ecommerce mistakes below.

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