Ho ho ho! Holidays are coming, baubles deck the halls everywhere you look, and you can smell gingerbread all around you.
It does not take long to get into a cheerful mood around the holidays, does it? However, this time of year is extremely stressful for many entrepreneurs who decided to take their business on an e-commerce journey.
E-commerce businesses can be very successful and drive enormous traffic to their websites during the holiday season, generating some record-breaking sales. However, this is not always the case.
As easy as it seems to be to drive sales when people are eager to buy, it is equally as easy to make a mistake that will be reflected in a lack of revenue. E-commerce businesses face the challenge of living up to the ever-increasing expectations of their clients. While companies may do their best to deliver the most positive customer experience possible, they can still make a lot of little mistakes that might result in a fatal business catastrophe.
E-commerce mistakes to avoid
What are the most common mistakes that e-commerce businesses make, especially at the most wonderful (and busiest) time of the year? Read on to find out.
1. Ignoring the power of social media
As obvious as it may seem, social media is badly neglected by some e-commerce business owners. Their communication is limited to just a few posts per month, and their community management is non-existent.
The marriage of e-commerce and social media is at its strongest in the pre-holiday season, with many functionalities that support growing sales. If you do not make the most of social commerce, nor plan your communication in advance or care about reaching clients on every possible platform, then you can suffer from decreasing sales, a dwindling community, and low engagement rates.
Shoppable feeds are not a choice any longer, they are a must-have for those e-commerce brands who want to achieve success. You can use social media management tools to plan your social media strategy ahead, and you should also make sure you’re active on the platforms where your clients are too.
2. Providing sub-par customer service
Your customer support team will definitely have its hands full during the holiday season and will need to roll their sleeves up to deliver a flawless customer experience.
Omnichannel support really matters. It seems obvious, but many customer support teams simply do not deliver for both existing and potential customers. With a slow response rate and not enough data or knowledge to help, clients can be easily put off and instead choose an offer from your competitors.
You need to be prepared for more queries and questions than ever before—and if you do not react quickly, you might miss the boat. Consider hiring extra people during this period to ensure seamless customer support.
You can also use chatbots for speeding up some customer service processes and unburden your busy agents. If your customer support leaves much to be desired, clients will turn their back from you and, potentially, spread a bad word or two about your approach. Not the nicest end to the year, you must admit.
3. Neglecting technical difficulties connected to user experience
Did you know that even one non-working button can cost you thousands of lost selling opportunities? If a potential client who is determined to purchase a product isn’t given the option to finalize the purchase because of a 404 error, inactive button, or page-load slower than a turtle, do not be surprised that they will start looking for cancel options. We live in an era that requires everyone and everything to be faster, better, and more effective.
One round of A/B testing and bug detection is not enough—you need to analyze your performance on a daily basis and be on a constant lookout for areas of improvement. Even slight modifications can bring you more business, so never resign from optimization. It’s always a good idea to check user behavior regularly with some session replays—they can help you identify possible bottlenecks and troublesome parts of your website. Do not make things difficult for your clients.
4. Disregarding logistical bottlenecks
Before you drive some huge traffic to your website and sell all of those jaw-dropping products, make sure that you are able to handle such a high number of orders and can ship them in time. There will be no mercy for you or your e-commerce business if you do not deliver on promises. There is basically no way that any of your customers will choose your offer again if you let them down at such an essential period of the year.
Many e-commerce owners get over-excited easily during this period. Higher traffic often means higher interest, and higher interest may be reflected in growing sales. However, your day has only 24 hours—you either need to involve some extra human resources or work to the bone, but even then you still can’t always guarantee delivery on time.
A lot of things depend on couriers, too, so don’t leave your delivery options last minute and guarantee delivery to those who order products three days before Christmas. The risk of not getting orders delivered on time and leaving customers fuming about your shop is too high. As much as you would love to deliver every package, you cannot always rely on other people in the logistics chain and you would still be blamed at the end of the day for a lack of delivery.
5. Delivering an awful mobile experience
Like it or not, your clients do buy via mobile and will be buying increasingly using this channel. The total value of m-commerce retail sales is skyrocketing, and it is predicted to take over desktop retail sales by the end of 2021 at the latest.
Although responsive web design (RWD) is commonplace, it does not mean that each and every e-commerce website measures up to the required standard. In some cases, only the main page is responsive enough. In others, product descriptions cover up photos or vice versa. Either way, it does not leave the best impression on your customers.
The trend of researching online, purchasing offline is no longer as valid since more and more shoppers now decide to hit the buy button in an e-commerce store instead of going to a brick-and-mortar one. Also, the trend has changed a bit. In the past, people used mobile phones to research some offers and seal the deal via desktop. Nowadays, if they have a really strong shopping impulse, they want to be able to finalize the transaction in seconds, even on their phone. If you do not provide them with hassle-free opportunities for doing so, you can lose out on a lot of sales.
6. Not putting enough attention towards building trust
It is really important to build some positive brand awareness around your business before you can start predicting otherworldly sales. There are a couple of small things that you can do here—take these pieces of advice as actionable tips.
For example, you should constantly encourage your clients to leave reviews regarding your services and products. Not only can you impact your SEO this way, but it helps build some brand trust as well. People do follow recommendations and read opinions before making a purchase. Even one opinion or comment is better than none (unless it’s negative, of course, but that is the risk of unbiased user-generated content). Social proof will not hurt either—there are some push notifications and plug-ins that you can use for this purpose.
Speaking of negative comments, you are exposed to them before Christmas just like any other e-commerce business is. As mentioned previously, at the end of the day it is going to be your business that your clients put the blame on if something is not up to par. This is where social media listening can help a bunch, both in preventing crises and identifying some brand ambassadors to promote your company further.
Following e-commerce trends is not optional—every e-commerce business must face them. Some high-tech trends may seem like a long shot, but there are other more practical ones you can try right away.
While implementing some AR or VR ideas require certain assets that don’t come about overnight, providing personalized customer support and a positive overall experience is a good starting point. The same applies to artificial intelligence or voice commerce—they do not have to be priorities for your company right now, but you need to be aware of their existence and maybe even start looking for some opportunities for applying it to your strategy. Trends are meant to show us the direction that the whole sector is heading towards, and your brand should be a part of that future of e-commerce.
8. Overlooking the marketing activities of your competitors
If you don’t want to see your competitors overtake you during the pre-Christmas season, you need to act and react, but also do painstaking research. There is no way that you can achieve success if you do not check what your competitors are doing on social media, TV campaigns, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and other channels.
If you neglect research and just do your own thing, it can quickly turn out that your competitors came up with ideas much more quickly and have already started implementing them. If this is the case, then there is practically no way for you to stand out from the competition and your Christmas marketing efforts may be in vain, which can reflect in lower sales and make PPC advertising less effective. While some companies can turn this mistake into a win-win situation, not every brand has such abilities. Better to be safe than sorry and do your research ahead of time.
Make your e-commerce business one you would buy from
Create a shop that people will be attracted to during the holiday season and will stay with after, whether you run post-holiday campaigns or not. It is relatively easy to drive a little bit of traffic and attract potential customers during this busy time, even despite fierce competition. However, it is much more difficult to turn those leads into deals and make a particular client loyal enough to keep visiting your e-commerce store throughout the year—not just when the weather outside is frightful.