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PixoLabo - How Fixing Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes Can Increase Sales

How Fixing Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes Increases Sales

How Fixing Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes Increases Sales

Updated December 2022

Why You Need to Fix Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes

We work with many e-commerce clients and noticed a consistent, if somewhat alarming, trend. Many businesses think they simply need to throw up an e-commerce website, add products and pricing, and start selling. In reality, many things go into building and maintaining an e-commerce store. Today I want to focus on common e-commerce design mistakes and how to fix them!

Selling online can open up substantial new markets for many businesses. When your store can be open 24/7 and reach a global market without the costs of mailings and call centers, it can be a massive boon to your business. But there are plenty of things to consider when designing an e-commerce site. It’s not as simple as throwing up some shopping cart software and plopping products into a database.

There are tons of common e-commerce design mistakes that online retailers make every day, all of them avoidable with a little careful planning. And even if you’re already committing some of these mistakes, most are easy to fix. Eliminating them will significantly improve the e-commerce user experience of your customers.

PixoLabo - Put Yourself in Your Consumer's Place

Put Yourself in Your Consumers’ Place

Imagine you visit a mall. The first retailer bombards you with pushy sales promotions the moment you enter, so you leave. At the second store, you are entirely ignored, with the same results. Your online store works the same way. Don’t be overly “salesy” or pushy; your visitors will go elsewhere. Instead, focus on providing guidance and answering questions from potential consumers as required.

Below are 15 of the most common e-commerce design mistakes that many online retailers make, as well as advice on how to avoid or fix them. Take the information under consideration before embarking on a new e-commerce project or when thinking over your current e-commerce site and follow the recommendations outlined here.

15 Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - No Detailed Product Information

1. No Detailed Product Information

When you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, you can pick up an item, feel it, look at it from every angle, and read any information on the packaging or labels. Shopping online removes that interaction. E-commerce sites need to do the best they can to improve upon the in-store shopping experience.

How often have we visited an online store and found their descriptions completely lacking? If a customer is left wondering about the specifics of a product, they’re more likely to look for information elsewhere. And unless your site’s price is significantly lower than your competitors, they’ll likely buy from the other website.

What to Do About It

Provide as much product information as you can. Sizes, materials, weight, dimensions, and other pertinent information depending on the product. For example, in an online clothing store, you might include the fabric type, sizes, and colors available, a size chart (usually linked from multiple products), the weight or thickness of the item, the cut and fit of the item, care instructions, and comments about the brand or designer. Using descriptive words rather than merely technical terms can significantly impact the consumer.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Hiding Contact Information

2. Hiding Contact Information

Consumers want to know they’re dealing with a real company when they hand over their credit card information. Consumers want to know that if they have a problem, they’ll be able to talk to a real person and get the help they need. If your site doesn’t provide any contact information or hides it so the consumer can’t find it quickly, they’re less likely to trust your site and, therefore, less likely to do business with you.

What to Do About It

Put your contact information in an easy-to-find place on every website page. The most obvious places to put your contact information are in your header, the top of your sidebar, or your footer. Provide multiple means of contact, if possible. A contact form, email address, phone number, and mailing address all increase customer trust. Remember, too, that the more expensive or technical the product you’re selling, the more likely a consumer will want more contact information.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Frustrating Checkout Process

3. A Frustrating Checkout Process

A lengthy or complicated checkout process is one of the most damaging mistakes an e-commerce site can make. It would help if you made it easy for customers to hand over their credit card information and complete their orders. The more steps you put between placing an item in their cart and paying for it, the more opportunities you give them to leave your site without completing their purchase.

The ideal checkout process includes a single page for consumers to check their order and enter their billing and shipping information and a confirmation page before they submit their request. Anything more than that is only an obstacle to completing the checkout process.

What to Do About It

Follow the ideal model as carefully as you can. If you have to include other pages, try to make them as quick and easy to fill out as possible. Combine pages if you can, and use two-column layouts for individual sections (like putting billing and shipping information next to each other) to make pages appear shorter.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Requiring Account to Order

4. Requiring an Account to Order

This ties in directly with the previous item. If you require a customer to sign up for an account before they can place an order, it’s another obstacle you’ve put in their path. Which is more important to you: getting the order or capturing customer information? Remember that the second option may mean losing some customers.

What to Do About It

There’s an easy fix for this. Instead of requiring a customer to sign up for an account before they order, offer them the option at the end of their ordering process. Allow them to save their account information to make placing future orders easier or track their current order status. Customers will opt to keep their data, and you won’t be driving away customers before they’ve completed their orders.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Inadequate Site Search

5. An Inadequate Site Search Engine

If customers know what they’re looking for, many will use a search engine instead of sifting through categories and filters. It would help if you made sure that the search feature on your site works well and preferably has filters for letting customers refine their results.

How often have you searched for a product on a large e-commerce site and been returned with hundreds of relevant results? While the variety of options can be helpful, if half of those results are nothing like what you’re looking for, it’s more an inconvenience than anything else. Including a way for customers to filter their search results by category or feature eliminates this problem.

What to Do About It

Make sure the e-commerce software you use has an excellent built-in search engine, or look for plugins to extend its functionality. Ideally, an e-commerce search engine should let users search by keyword and then refine results based on the categories your site includes. Let users sort their search results based on standard criteria (most popular, highest or lowest price, or newest item), and eliminate products that don’t fit within a specific category.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Poor Customer Service Options

6. Poor Customer Service Options

This is similar to the hiding contact information bit above. You need to make it easy for customers to contact you if they have a problem or question. Make it clear what the best way to contact you is if they have a technical issue, a sales question, or they want to return an item. Offering a help request form for customers to fill out can instill more confidence than just an email address.

What to Do About It

Use a ticketing system for customer service inquiries, especially if you don’t have a phone number available. Make sure you post a FAQ that covers common questions customers might have, like your return policy or what to do if they need to order parts or replacement items.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Tiny Product Images

7. Tiny Product Images

Since consumers can’t physically handle the products you’re selling before placing an order on your website, you need to do as much as you can to recreate and improve upon that experience. Small product images don’t effectively do this.

What to Do About It

Either provide large images right on the product page or allow users to click on an image to zoom in. You want users to be able to view the image as big as is practical on an average monitor, meaning an image that enlarges to 1920×1280 pixels is a good start. Optimize your product images for smaller screen sizes and maximum page load speed.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Only One Product Image

8. Only One Product Image

Unless your product is delivered digitally (and even sometimes if it is), you’ll want to provide multiple images from different angles. Show your product in each available color, from the front, back, and sides and even detailed shots of specific features can all go a long way toward making a consumer more likely to buy from you.

What to Do About It

This one’s simple: include more images. Four or five pictures of each product are ideal, offering enough views to make consumers feel comfortable knowing what they’re buying.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Poor Shopping Cart Design

9. A Poor Shopping Cart Design

Your shopping cart is an essential part of your e-commerce website. It needs to allow users to add multiple products, revise the quantities or other options about those products, and remain transparent simultaneously. Not exactly the easiest thing to do, right?

What to Do About It

Make sure your cart lets a user add an item and then return to the last page they were on. Even better: allow them to add an item to their cart without leaving the page they’re on (by using a mini cart). Let your customers edit the quantities of items in their cart or remove an item from their cart. And let them preview what shipping charges will be before they start the checkout process.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Lack of Payment Options

10. Lack of Payment Options

Plenty of sites allow users to pay with Visa or MasterCard or to only pay with a PayPal account. There’s no reason for this anymore.

What about the person who has an AmEx card or doesn’t have or want a PayPal account? What about someone who doesn’t have a credit card and wants to pay straight from their bank account?

How about mobile consumers who want to pay on their smartphone using Google Pay or Apple Pay? You need to provide as many payment solutions as possible to optimize the number of orders you get.

What to Do About It

Use a payment service that lets customers pay with each major credit card, preferably with an electronic check. Adding Stripe, Square, or PayPal checkout options increases the choices your customers have, making them more likely to purchase from you. You may also want to add mobile payment options, including Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Considering different consumers have different preferences when making online payments, catering to as many as possible helps you expand your customer base.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Not Including Related Products

11. Not Including Related Products

You’ve probably noticed when you go to a brick-and-mortar store that they group similar products or otherwise make it easy to find products that are related to you. They’ll put a battery display in the electronics section, or include cell phone cases near the cell phones. The same can be done on your website and increase add-on sales for your business.

What to Do About It

Use an e-commerce platform that lets you include related products on product description pages. A platform that will allow you manually choose associated products can also give you a significant advantage since you may see relations that a software program doesn’t (such as coordinating clothing pieces to create an outfit).

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Confusing Navigation

12. Confusing Navigation

There’s nothing worse than finding a product on a site with confusing navigation. Even worse is an online store that doesn’t use categories or otherwise separate merchandise to make it easier to find a specific product type. The same goes for sites that have categories with no products in them or with only one or two items. Why even bother with a category?

What to Do About It

Think carefully through your categories and navigation elements before putting products in your catalog. Make sure every category has at least a few products in it, or group smaller categories (or include them in more extensive, similar categories). Make it easy for customers to look through different categories, get to their shopping cart, and move around your site.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Not Including Shipping Rates

13. Not Including Shipping Rates

There’s no good reason not to include accurate shipping rates on your site. I’ve abandoned numerous purchases because it said, “We’ll email you with an accurate shipping quote for approval before processing your order.”

When shopping online, I want to complete my order all at once without waiting for an email to decide whether the shipping charges are too high. Include your rates on your site, no matter what.

What to Do About It

Most major shipping companies and the USPS offer shipping calculators on their websites, and plugins or widgets are available for most major shopping cart systems to figure shipping charges on your site. Use one.

If you can’t use one for some reason, then use a flat shipping rate that’s high enough to cover whatever it is you need to ship. For particularly heavy or large items, you can always include a freight surcharge in the price (be sure to indicate where the additional cost is going).

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Not Including Store Policies

14. Not Including Store Policies

Before a customer buys from you, they’ll likely want to know your shipping policies, return policies, and other store rules. And there’s no reason not to post this information in an FAQ or elsewhere on your site. Making your store policies clear upfront can save many headaches for customers unhappy with an order they’ve placed.

What to Do About It

Use an FAQ or store policies section on your site to spell out exactly what your rules are for different kinds of customer interaction. It’s something that can save you tons of problems down the road.

PixoLabo - Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes - Not Putting Focus on the Products

15. Not Putting Focus on the Products

The goal of an e-commerce site is to sell products (or, at least, that’s what the goal should be). If your site focuses more on bells and whistles or the design itself, it’s not achieving that primary goal. Make sure your site displays your products first and everything else second.

What to Do About It

Think about how brick-and-mortar stores display products. While an in-store or window display may show more than just the products for sale, they all contribute to showcasing the products in their most flattering light. Do the same with your website. Make sure that every design element present is doing something to showcase your products in their best possible light.

PixoLabo - Providing a Better E-Commerce Experience

Fixing Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes

Fixing or avoiding these common e-commerce design mistakes is essential to provide the best online shopping experience. Just think of how you react in a brick-and-mortar store. If the sales staff ignores you or products are pushed on you the moment you enter the store, you are likely to turn around and leave. Attentive staff that answers your questions and addresses your concerns will turn you into a loyal customer.

Therefore, you have to optimize your online store for sales. Make sure your e-commerce site is mobile-first, easy to use and navigate, and that your pages load within three seconds on all devices. Post contact information prominently on your website and offer a smooth checkout process. Make sure product pages link to relevant buyer’s guides to optimize conversions and to answer all consumer questions.

Avoiding or fixing these common e-commerce design mistakes will help you provide the user experience that sophisticated and demanding consumers expect in 2023. It helps direct online shoppers to the intended products and resources. Even more important, it will connect them to the real people and stories behind your online store. We are here to help!

PixoLabo - E-Commerce Designer

Need Help Fixing Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes?

E-commerce stores can be very complicated, especially if you have a lot of different products and categories. A substantial online store can make fixing common e-commerce design mistakes daunting for many online retailers. Here is an idea for you; why not let our team help you with that?

Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of web design and related services. Our team of WordPress experts can help you meet the expectations of demanding consumers! But first, look at our portfolio and read our case studies.

Then, if you believe we are a good fit for your e-commerce and web design needs, reach out! We offer a full range of consulting and design solutions for businesses and product brands. If you are unsure how to avoid common e-commerce design mistakes, let’s talk!

Our team will listen to your concerns, analyze any problems and obstacles between your audience and your e-commerce website, and how to overcome them. That way, you can focus on running and growing your online business. Does that sound good to you? Then why not contact us now?

Do You Eliminate Common E-Commerce Design Mistakes?

Did you make any of these common e-commerce design mistakes? How did you fix them? Do you have any other e-commerce errors or shortcomings? Please share them with our audience in the comments.

Don’t forget to grab our feed, so you don’t miss any updates. And help any e-commerce business owners among your friends and associates by sharing this post with them.

For more content relevant to your business or product brand – check out the range of articles on our web design blog. (This one, on optimizing your e-commerce homepage, is an excellent place to start!)

Thank you! We appreciate your help ending bad business websites, one pixel at a time!

By Gregor Saita
Co-Founder / CXO

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