Top 7 Challenges E-Commerce Stores Face – a guest blog post from the Cart2Cart team.
The e-commerce industry can be quite the dog-eat-dog world, with small businesses struggling for survival in an age where mammoth companies like Amazon patrol the space. Store owners are challenged by competitors, the market, and the day-to-day operational difficulties of running a business. Here, we outline the most common challenges e-commerce stores face and how to overcome them.
Challenge #1 – Website Traffic
The fastest way to doom your online retail success is with the absence of website traffic. If you want to drive sales, you need to have visitors continuously frequenting your site. What are the simplest ways to crowd your store with hungry shoppers?
Paid Advertising: Fast, easy but expensive, paid advertising is a proven method of driving targeted traffic to your website. Google Adwords is a good option for beginners, but ensure that you understand how it works before diving in. The more specific and niche targeted keywords you use, the fewer financial infusions required and the more relevant visitors you’ll see.
Consistent Presence on Social Platforms: Social media is another method of increasing traffic. While slow and demanding, social media is ultimately much more powerful and less expensive than paid advertising. Talk to your target audience, engage them in conversation, and don’t forget that content should be fun and interesting. Those are the secrets of gaining website traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Challenge #2 – SEO
Store owners often fail to optimize their sites for search engines correctly, thinking that several pages filled with hundreds of products will be enough to attract the right eyeballs. Here are a few basic suggestions to consider to help put your site on Google’s first results page.
Describe Your Products: Unique and qualitative product description is something retailers too often forget about. Strong descriptions help Google distinguish you amongst the vast market of e-stores.
Let the People Speak: Product reviews are another thing e-commerce store owners tend to neglect. Each review creates a unique, relative, free piece of content for your website. Secondly, they keep your product pages living, which can help bring search engines to your website more often. Thirdly, customers like to hear from their own; customer reviews can become the most efficient form of advertising.
Use Accurate Search Keywords: Don’t ever forget to consider search keywords people are using to find a product on the internet. Pay attention to them when you’re writing headlines, descriptions, and all the other website content. Although, don’t try to use the same keyword over and over again on the same page – Google can’t be tricked like that.
Challenge #3 – Cart Abandonment
Customers arrive on your storefront, search for a product, add to it to their cart, and walk away. How rude of them! Why does this happen? The only way to cope with the challenge of cart abandonment is to understand the reasons for your customers’ “mysterious” disappearance:
Guest Purchasing: Requiring a registration before purchase is not a good idea. Customers often experience hurdles during the registration process or just don’t want to spend their precious time filling in 15 unnecessary fields and waiting for a confirmation email. If a customer wants to purchase, let him/her do so here and now.
Specify Shipping Rates: Unexpected shipping costs often are a shocking discovery that can scare consumers away right before purchase. Too often they feel “fooled” if shipping costs weren’t clearly displayed along with product price and they abandon their cart as a result. Be straightforward – don’t hide the shipping rates or don’t display them at all.
Make Payment Pleasurable: Technical issues on the payment page or complicated checkout won’t make shoppers more trustful as they are faced with the final purchase decision. They might start worrying about credit card safety, not receiving their goods after payment, or paying twice. A complex checkout procedure would also contribute to distrust.
Challenge #4 – Delivery Logistics
You could write a whole novel about the shipping logistics challenges e-store owners encounter. Poor shipping times or lack of precise delivery information are two of the most common reasons for customer dissatisfaction. Thus, you must pay special attention to the quality of delivery logistics.
Double-Check the Orders: Be sure to send an undamaged and high-quality product – the exact one your customer ordered. In case you’re not able to perform delivery management in-house, consider the possibility of employing additional staff to take care of your orders or outsourcing fulfillment.
Offer Flexible Shipping Options: Customers are often dissatisfied with limited shipping possibilities and high delivery costs. Willing to please them? Offer your customers an express delivery option, several shipping carriers to choose from, and free shipping for products over a certain dollar value.
Challenge #5 – Reputation Management
Though reputation management can become quite a challenge, it’s too important to ignore as you’re first establishing your brand and reputation. The moment an unhappy customer says something negative about your business is the moment to take action and convince people you worth buying from.
Stay in Touch: Monitor the internet and your site for dissatisfied clients who are unhappy about your service. The best way to cool down your sharp-tongued customers is to connect with them directly via phone to address their frustrations. A human-to-human conversation is an appropriate format for lightening a customer’s mood and helping them resolve their troubles. If a customer is complaining in a forum or social network, publicly apologize and offer compensation, a gift card, free shipping, etc. Even if a client is actually wrong, it doesn’t matter – but a good reputation does.
Keep the Lights On: Think outside the box and maintain an active PR strategy. Create opportunities to frame your company in a positive, accurate light – it’s okay to brag a little! Sponsor startups that are widely discussed or encourage people to show they’re using your product via YouTube videos.
Challenge #6 – Shopping Cart Issues
Even the best business plan cannot override a bad website, the quality of which often depends on the shopping cart you choose. As an e-merchant, you are responsible for providing clients with the best shopping experience. However, very often the functionality of your shopping platform might limit your possibilities for improvement. In such a case, you can move forward in two ways:
Perform an Upgrade: In order to be in step with the times, most shopping carts release new, improved versions frequently. You should always stay aware of updates to your platform . Upgrade your e-commerce solution (if your platform doesn’t do it automatically), and have your online retailer improved without substantial changes to the user interface you adore.
Migrate to a Superior Shopping Cart: As the practice always shows, it isn’t worth it to fish out functionality from an outdated shopping cart. So stop using complex extensions to make your store run better and simply migrate to a better platform, instead. This method will take much less time and save you energy & money.
Challenge #7 – Shopping Cart Migration
When you feel your shopping cart is moaning and neighing like an old nag, you know it’s the time to switch to a new luxury car. Platform migration is something not so often discussed, but is it really a challenge nowadays? Should an average online shop owner hire a qualified technician to perform a data transfer or do the current internet services allow one to perform such task single-handedly? Here are the modern options:
Do it Yourself: If you happen to possess enough technical experience, you can write a special migration script and move all the entities yourself. Note that such an approach is quite risky and doesn’t always lead to results that you expect.
Call for Help: Browse the internet, hit the topical forums, and post multiple projects on freelance websites – all to find the reliable person that will transfer your entities to a more advanced shopping cart, without a single loss. This process is expensive and time-consuming but may potentially bring a great result.
Use an Automated Service: This migration option is an option in-between. It combines ease of use and reasonable pricing and is vividly represented by Cart2Cart, the automated migration service. With Cart2Cart, merchants have an opportunity to transfer their store to any of 60+ supported shopping carts. The duration of such a procedure depends on the number of entities and differs on a case by case basis, but will never take more than a few hours.
These are just a few of the most common challenges e-commerce store owners face on their way to business prosperity. Without overcoming them, online retailers are doomed only to walk around the backyard of the e-Commerce market and lose to competitors with more advanced tactics. So be sure to track customer’s demands, adapt, and make your shop irresistible for clients of all geographies.
Taras Kopchak is a Marketing Manager at Cart2Cart, an automated shopping cart migration service that was founded in 2009. With more than 11,000 platform migrations under its belt, Cart2Cart has become a recognized leader in this market niche.
Shippo is a multi-carrier API and web app that helps retailers, marketplaces and platforms connect to a global network of carriers. Businesses use Shippo to get real-time rates, print labels, automate international paperwork, track packages and facilitate returns. Shippo provides the tools to help businesses succeed through shipping.