Small business e-commerce: Why is no one buying from my online store?

Whether you’re new to small business e-commerce or have been around for a while – you’re constantly working to increase online sales. But in most cases, achieving that goal is a lot easier said than done.

In fact, do any of these sound familiar?

  • People are finding their way to your website but they aren’t venturing past the initial landing page. They come and go without having done much at all.
  • Your website gets traffic (paid / organic) and you see that they’re clicking through to product pages or the online store. But then they just leave… Why aren’t they making a purchase?
  • Visitors get so far as to add items to their shopping cart only to abandon it in the end. Why didn’t they go complete the purchase process?

Given all your hard work, encountering such scenarios can be incredibly frustrating.

You might be wondering: why is no one buying from my online store? Also, what needs to change and how do you go about it?

Image shows colleagues in discussion
Image: Pixabay

To get to the root of the problem, you first need to consider the basics and then analyse what you’re doing wrong or could be doing better.

For the basics, that means asking three key questions:

  • Why do consumers choose to shop online? More specifically, why would your specific target market want to buy products like yours online?
  • Why do they choose certain websites or online stores over others?
  • What benefits do offline stores in your category offer and how can you replicate them online?

Once you’ve found answers to these questions, you can start analysing (and troubleshooting) your small business e-commerce site.

So let’s get straight to it.

Why do consumers shop online?

According to a 2017 report, reasons include:

  • The flexibility to shop all the time, any time (24/7) → 58%
  • The ability to compare prices → 54%
  • There are better prices or online sales → 46%
  • Shopping online saves time → 40%
  • The convenience of not having to go out to shop → 39%
  • Online stores offer greater variety or selection → 29%
  • Free shipping offers → 29%
  • The convenience of having everything in one place → 27%
  • It’s hard to find the item offline → 20%
  • The product(s) aren’t available in the customer’s city / country → 15%
  • It allows them to escape checkout lines → 11%

(Source: KPMG)

Now you might think that these are common sense factors—this information is nothing new…

That’s why you’d be wise to take your analysis a step further. What’s driving your ideal customers to shop online?

For your small business e-commerce success, make sure you know why your target consumers choose to shop online to begin with.
Image: Unsplash/Igor Miske

Maybe you’re selling products that certain customers are shy about purchasing in an actual store – e.g. reusable cloth menstrual pads. Buying it online is a more comfortable option.

Maybe customers don’t want to venture out or queue for the same items every few weeks and you’re offering a convenient subscription service – e.g. specialty coffee straight to your front door.

The point is, when you know what your customers’ reasons are, you can refine or adjust elements of your marketing to better appeal and cater to your customers.

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How do customers choose where to shop online?

If you want to know why no one is buying from your small business e-commerce site, you also need to look into the driving factors behind why customers choose certain websites / online stores over others.

The same 2017 study mentioned above explored just that. Their insight shows that decisive factors or criteria include:

  • Where they can find the lowest price → 57%
  • Enhanced delivery options → 43%
  • An easy return policy → 40%
  • Available payment options → 34%
  • The ability to see if the product is in stock → 33%
  • Information about product ingredients / sources → 26%
  • A consistent and smooth shopping experience → 23%
  • Incentives or rewards programs → 21%
  • Customized promotions → 21%
  • The option to purchase online and pick up the item → 20%
  • Limited time promotions → 16%
  • Social media presence → 10%

(Source: KPMG)

Are you already offering any of the above to your customers? If not, which elements can you implement to attract shoppers?

One way to improve small business e-commerce is to bring offline benefits to the online shopping experience.
Image: Unsplash/Becca McHaffie

Bring offline benefits to small business e-commerce sites

To increase online sales, you need to be sure that your online shopping experience rivals – if not exceeds – that of offline shopping. In other words, you need to bring offline benefits to small business e-commerce.

Start by considering why your customers might prefer a physical store over your website – then find ways to recreate what they’re looking for online.

For example:

Over 55% of consumers want to see / touch / try on an item before buying it. Similarly, 41% worry that products look different online versus in reality.

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If you’re selling pyjamas, what can you do to satisfy those inclinations for online shoppers?

Among others, you might add a detailed size chart with measurement guide as well as plenty of photographs with zoom option. You could also offer a no-questions-asked return policy.

All this to say: You really need to understand your customers’ attitudes and motivations to craft a strategy that will increase online sales.

This is especially true and important for small e-commerce businesses – so don’t skip this step.