E-commerce Website Problems: Are You Making These Common Mistakes?

Frustrated with slow online sales? Trying to figure out why no one is buying from your website? These 10 easily overlooked mistakes are some of the most common causes of e-commerce website problems.

Have you been wondering why you aren’t getting the sales you expected or hoped for on your small business e-commerce site?

You aren’t alone.

New and seasoned online business owners alike can make small mistakes – or oversee little details – that end up costing them customers and all-important sales.

I’ve rounded up some of the most common ones below to help you figure out what you could be doing better—and how to do it!

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These common mistakes might be why you’re having e-commerce website problems

Let’s assume you’ve got a great product and that you’ve invested in – at the very least – some basic marketing for your small e-commerce site.

Why are your sales so low? Why aren’t more visitors making a purchase when they’re already on your website?


1.    Have you done enough research?

I hate to state the obvious but… have you done your research?

As a business owner, you might believe that your products are the best and that – because you love what you’re selling – everyone else will too.

The reality is often quite different.

That’s why in order to craft a winning marketing strategy you need to start with proper market research.

Among others:

  • Assess your products’ prospects – is there a need or desire for what you’re selling?
  • Research your industry – how is it faring and where is it going?
  • Analyse your competitors – who and what are you up against?
  • Who are your potential customers and what makes them tick?

2.    Is your niche too broad?

When you’re in a highly competitive market space, getting found (and standing out) becomes a matter of e-commerce life or death.

A very broad niche plus a lot of competition makes it harder for small e-commerce businesses to succeed.

To put it very bluntly: if your potential customers can’t find you, you essentially don’t exist.

(Sorry, but it’s true.)

So, here we go: can customers find your website? Can they find your products using relevant search terms?

If you answered no, then one way to make a dent is to try being more specific with everything from keywords through to who you’re targeting.

For example: If you’re selling specialty shoes, you might want to use terms like ‘orthopedic shoes’, ‘shoes for flat footed men’, ‘shoes with arch support’, ‘slip resistant work shoes for women’ and so on instead of just ‘shoes’ or ‘women’s shoes’.

Here’s a great example of this in action:

E-commerce website problems: One way to improve an online store's sales performance is to use niche keywords and target more specific segments of the market.

3.    How well do you know – and understand – your customers?

If you don’t know who your customers are, how will you market to them?

To write any sort of copy (e.g. enticing product descriptions, relevant e-mails / newsletters) or create useful content (e.g. compelling blog posts) – you need to know what would appeal to your target market.

That means getting to know what motivates them, what their needs, wants, priorities are, and how to best reach them with your marketing message.

4.    Alternatively, are you even targeting the right audience?

If you aren’t seeing the level of sales you forecasted, could it be that you misjudged your potential market? Could you be targeting the wrong people?

You might want to reconsider who your ideal customers really are. Start by asking who would benefit most from your offer and don’t forget to examine the analytics data for insight on your e-commerce website’s actual traffic.

5.    Does your e-commerce website have a well-thought-out USP?

Let’s face it. There are tons of online stores to choose from. So if you want people to shop on your website, you need to give them good reason to.

What makes your e-commerce site better than the alternatives? Why should customers shop with you and not on competitors’ websites or on giant platforms like Amazon?

For example:

  • Does your online store offer the best prices?
  • Are you the only one that offers same day delivery?
  • Do you offer the widest selection of gluten-free snacks?

Let your unique selling proposition be known the moment visitors land on your page.

Here’s a convincing reason customers might want to buy tea specifically from these folks:

E-commerce website problems: Making sure you have a well-thought-out USP can help you improve online sales for your small e-commerce business.

6.    Have you written high-converting product descriptions?

Disappointed with your online shop’s sales? Poorly written product descriptions could be the culprit.

Great product descriptions are accurate, informative, relevant and also attractive – otherwise they won’t land you that conversion.

So take a moment to go over your current descriptions. Are they:

Also, have you:

  • Included the necessary technical specifications and any other relevant details to help with decision making?
  • Checked for spelling and grammar mistakes?
  • Added high quality photos, videos, measurement guides, etc. to the description?

If in doubt about the quality of your e-commerce copy, don’t waste time or hesitate – hire a copywriter.

The best way to succeed in the long term is to have honest sales copy—always. This is a prerequisite for your business’ reputation, for building and maintaining trust, and cultivating a loyal customer base.

7.    Is your small business website too complicated for customers?

You know by now that your first major challenge is to get shoppers to your website. The second is to convince them to buy.

So… put yourself in customers’ shoes and experience what it’s like shopping on your website. Here are a few points you might find useful for an assessment:

  • Have you made sure that every single link works and directs visitors to the correct page?
  • Do your pages load quickly?
  • Are you bombarding visitors with too many pop ups?
  • How easy is it to navigate your site?
  • Are you confusing your prospects?
  • Can customers easily find what they’re looking for?
  • Are you offering too much choice?
  • How easy is it to go through the purchase process, i.e. how many steps are involved from adding an item to the shopping cart to completion?

8.    Can your online store be trusted?

We all share the same fears when shopping on the internet. So you know from first-hand experience that building trust as a small e-commerce website is one of the hardest tasks you face.

If you want visitors to enter valuable credit card details and make purchases via your online store, you have to create a safe and trusted atmosphere.

Of course, there’s the IT security side of things but also other basics such as obtaining a trust seal, incorporating reviews, using trusted payment solutions, and so on.

9.    Are you making the best use of landing pages?

Remember this frustrating scenario?

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.

These types of e-commerce website problems could very well be due to the quality of said landing pages and your calls-to-action.

For the best possible outcome, your landing page should be a logical next step from the ad or link that customers clicked on.

That is to say, the messaging on the page has to match the ad or meta description, providing a seamless transition from one place to the next.

You also want to make sure that the following are instantly clear to visitors of your e-commerce business website:

  • What you’re selling
  • Why visitors should buy from you – see #5
  • How you are different from the competition

Here’s a list of common landing page mistakes – make sure you aren’t making them.

10.    Are you providing useful content for every stage of the purchase journey?

The reality is, not every visitor to your web store is ready or in a position to make a purchase right at this very moment.

Some are doing preliminary research, some are making comparisons, and others might need a tad extra convincing.

This is where understanding search intent and the purchase journey – and catering to it – can be a big help to solving your e-commerce website problems.

If you are able to appeal to prospects at different stages of the purchase journey with relevant and valuable information, you have a higher chance of eventually converting those visitors into paying customers.

And there you have it! Ten often overlooked causes of e-commerce website problems. Did you discover some changes you need to make?