Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Top 5 Common E-Commerce Mistakes

Ready to embark upon the world of e-commerce? Wait – not so fast! Make sure you avoid these pitfalls.

1. Not investing in quality design
Many new-comers to e-commerce attempt to keep their cost down by using a template shopping cart website or hiring the cheapest designers around to build their website. This may help you budget-wise but it will never help you build your business. Customers will view your website and business as unprofessional and will figure that you are not a place worthy of their spending. There couldn’t be a worse first impression if you tired! So, be smart! Invest in a web firm that can create professional looking graphics that help bolster your business and your sales.

2. Lack of Follow-Up and Auto-Responders
Whether you’re selling t-shirts or cell phones, customers want to know where to begin. When you send your product be sure to include a “Read this First” or “Getting Started” document to help them through your product step by step. In addition to this you should have an auto-responder sequence that is generated from your website that follows up with them and reiterates this information.
Whether it’s Wash and Wear or Plug in and Play…help your customers understand your product as best as possible.
After the product has shipped, get in touch with your client. Let them know you care.

3. Weak Product Line
At best, there are a couple of dozen success stories as a result of selling a single product. If you are relying on selling to new customers then your chances of long-term success are minimal. It is well known that overcoming the sales hurdle is much easier when you are dealing with an existing customer. Without additional related products you cannot upsell. Moreover, you reduce the possibility of starting a relationship with your customer if they have no reason to return to your website.

4. Living In a Virtual World
Don’t underestimate the value of human contact. As much as we love all the conveniences of technology, your customers will appreciate the ability to talk to a real person – especially when they have a problem or a question. Use e-mails, forms, and support tickets as an option but always offer a live representative for your customers. This will go a long way with building the rapport and trust that leads to long-term business relationships.

5. Inconsistent Branding
The value of brand recognition is huge! You need people to recognize your products. Give a consistent look and feel to everything you do online and off. Your website should look like it is related to your products and your customers. Think of it as keeping it all in the family.
Whatever you sell online, your offline materials and the look and feel of your website should be related. Just like with twins, people will know that they are related. It’s easier to sell a product to someone who is comfortable with you and branding is a critical aspect of increasing consumer’s comfort level.