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Finding success with any business is tough, and the devil is in the details.

More often than not it can be easy to overlook issues that might be affecting the experience you offer your customers. This is particularly true online. With an ecommerce business, you don’t have the luxury of shaking your customers hand and asking them for feedback. That can sometimes lead entrepreneurs to have tunnel vision, overlooking the accidental barriers they may be putting up between them and their customer’s credit cards.

Ecommerce platforms like Shopify, and Bigcommerce make setting up your store quick and easy and the results can be quite beautiful. But don’t forget about the details of the customer journey and customer experience.

Here are 5 things that some stores overlook that might actually be sabotaging your ecommerce success:


1. Making it difficult to buy!

Don’t make it hard for your customer to buy from you. Sounds simple, but there are things that stores will accidentally do that place artificial barriers between your customers and your products.

These days one of the most obvious ones is not properly optimizing your pages for the devices shoppers are using. Namely smart phones and tablets. Research this year from Shopify showed that over 50% of shoppers are now browsing online stores through a mobile device. A page that doesn’t’ render correctly for mobile, is a page that won’t sell. Period.

Mobile optimization doesn’t just mean that your page should look good on a phone; it means that you’ve taken into account all the elements of the page that users will have to interact with. Buttons should be finger friendly. Popups and light boxes don’t work well on mobile devices, and large multimedia elements like videos and high res images might inadvertently chew into shoppers’ data plans.

We’ve reached the tipping point in consumer mobile use, so it’s important that you spend the time to walk through your entire store experience on mobile, and make sure it doesn’t just work, but it sells.


2. Poor customer targeting

Marketers talk a lot about target markets and buyer personas. For good reason, I don’t care what kind of products you sell; you will not be able to please everyone. The trick in laying the foundation for a successful business is to find out what sub-segment of buyers will really love your business and your products. These are customers who will buy, buy again and tell their friends.

Once you have a good idea of what traits this buyer has, and what might motivate them, you need to find out where you can find them. Lots of them. In the world of brick and mortar retail, this is all about location, location, location. Online, it’s all about community, community, community.

Find out where your ideal buyers hang out online, and leverage those communities to drive traffic to your store.


3. Forgetting about marketing

Effective online marketing is a mix of multiple channels and tactics. That’s not to say it’s a mix of every channel and tactic, but it’s rare that any online business can generate enough traffic without at least a handful of profitable marketing channels.

Worse, many businesses are so focused on the design of their store, that they assume that if they build it, shoppers ill come. That’s sadly not the case.

There really is no “best” channel or tactic when it comes to online marketing. Most businesses find success with a mix of search, SEO, social, and display ads. Take the time to research and optimize a handful of marketing channels for your business, to determine the right mixes for finding those ideal customers.

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4. Tight margins

New ecommerce sites often need to do business at a loss until they build up a critical mass of customers and loyalty. Once’ you’ve reached that point however, it becomes critical to begin transitioning more of your focus to maintaining your margins.

Elements of running your store such as payment gateway fees, shipping costs, advertising programs, technology tools and staff cost all have an impact on profit margins.

Likewise when you run sales and promotions. Incentives are in many ways the best tactic to build your customer base but make sure they are appropriate for your profit margins.


5. Hidden costs

Taxes, shipping costs, return policies, service charges. Be upfront and clear about any extra fees that may be associated with a purchase. For that matter make sure your pricing itself is clear. Discounts and promotions shouldn’t be too fancy, and for those of you who sell to the global market make absolutely sure that you offer customers clear currency conversion when they buy from out of country.

There you have it. While there isn’t a perfect recipe for guaranteed success in the world of ecommerce, there are documented mistakes that have been made over and over again. When you’re taking a closer look at what you’ve built and what your customers experience, try not to forget the points we’ve made above. Is there something I’ve missed? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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