Last updated: 26/04/2019

The 5 Most Common eCommerce Mistakes

There are different types of common eCommerce mistakes you probably do.

For now, we examine 2 common eCommerce mistakes about Management and 3 about Conversion.

There is a frequently asked question, regarding conversion: “People are visiting my website, but they don’t become customers. Why don’t they buy anything?

I should make clear from the beginning that conversion does not equal traffic.

For those unfamiliar with the Growth Funnel, here it is:

Also known as the AARRR process, the growth funnel shows the way in which your business can gain clients. It is a five-stage process, starting with the first point of contact with your customer, all the way down, with them making a purchase and sharing their pleasant experience with your business. Read more about the funnel and how to create a growth plan here.

When we discuss traffic for your e-commerce store, we mean customer Acquisition. This blog post is about Activation. If you are interested in traffic, I recommend you to take a look here.

Well, is your Conversion Rate high or low?

You have people coming on your website, but only a few of them make it to the shopping cart and even less actually make a purchase. Is this normal?

With one word – Yes.

Let’s take a closer look:

Source: Wordstream


In general, for every 100 customers your website attracts, you shouldn’t expect more than 3 purchases. Every e-commerce store has its own variables:  an e-store that sells honey usually has a bigger conversion rate to an e-car dealership.

But what if you manage to drive 1000 customers into your e-commerce store but only one, or none, is buying?

Do you make one of these eCommerce mistakes?

Mistake #1: Spending your time on things that you shouldn’t [pre-launch]

Our number 1 for the list of most common eCommerce misakes is this.There is a bad habit that was proven to be a common trend – more than it should. During a ‘Growth Hacking Academy’, many eCommerce store owners realized they had been spending their time wrong during the setup of their eCommerce store.

They would spend too much time on trivial -or less important- tasks, like designing their logo when they should be taking care of their content.

As GrowthRocks, we’ve set up [insert big number here] digital properties. What we’ve learned is that time allocation is important, and it should look like this:


Mistake #2: Doing everything by yourself

You want things your way, and you don’t share your responsibilities easily. This is 100% respectable, but respect shouldn’t be your top priority right now. Strategy, concept, Analytics, SEO/PPC campaigns, community management, social media, website administration and maintenance, design, email marketing, and the list goes on.

In our digital days, each one of these activities is a different profession, and you are in this tough spot where you have to fill in many of these positions. Hiring people costs money and money is not infinite, so you end up doing everything by yourself to save money. And this is where many owners make this common eCommerce mistake: they treat time as infinite.

If you want a logo for your business, you usually don’t enroll in a Photoshop webinar, spend 30 hours to learn the basics and then proceed to make your own logo. You can do that, but it’s not very effective.

You should think in terms of – what we growth hackers talk about a lot – value. Your time is limited so the question is, how can you make the most out of it?

I would suggest doing the things you like the most. If you like designing but struggling with SEO, devote to design and leave SEO for somebody else. Besides the benefit of doing what you like this has in itself, it also allows you, in general, to focus on what you do intently, thus becoming more productive in the long run.

You can begin with freelancers for the most troubling areas of your eCommerce store and build up from there.

Mistake #3: Sending fewer emails than you should

I can hear you asking: “But Jim, aren’t my customers going to block me if I spam their mail box daily?” First off, I’m not Jim. Second, let’s talks numbers.

Omnisend published a research this year which focused on the email campaigns of small and medium-sized businesses. According to the results, this is how often its clients send emails per month:

Side-Note: As a rule of thumb, that the bigger the company, the more emails it sends.

And this is how often the audience opens the emails:

Looking at this chart, we see that open & click-through rates are reverse to the number of emails businesses sent. So we can all agree that you shouldn’t send a lot of mails and we can happily move on to the next subject.

Not so fast.

Remember, our KPI here is Acquisition. Your ultimate goal is to get the most orders, not to have the highest CTR & CTOR.

Take a look at the next slide.

What this practically means is that businesses got 5 order for each new mail campaign until the 19th. By sending more promotional emails, you create opportunities to sell more. While the mail frequency increases, CTR & CTOR go down, but orders go up!

At first glance, this may seem like a paradox, however there is a rational explanation for that.

This explanation comes from the end of the 19th century, from a bright mind you may have heard of: Vilfredo Pareto. In his first paper, Pareto published his 80/20 rule which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Later on, this principle entered the business world and became an axiom in business management, suggesting that “80% of sales come from 20% of clients”.

And now our mail results make a little more sense.

But how can you turn this principle in your favor?

In one word, segmentation. By segmenting your audience, you can send the right amount of emails to the right people. You should consider creating two different groups: one with your 20% of customers that buy more often from you and one with the rest 80% customers.

Be very giving to your first group and more conservative with your email frequency to the second. Not segmenting your audience and not taking advantage of the different qualities is one of these common eCommerce mistakes.

Segmentation, of course, can go beyond the quantity which we are examining now. Quality-wise, you can have as many groups as you want and create tailor-made campaigns for your customers.

But that is a story for another time. Let’s move on a bit.


Mistake #4: Weak product description

Shopping from a virtual shop is usually a less fulfilling experience than shopping in a physical store. All you, as an e-seller, is left with to convince its audience is images and words. Unerestimating images and words is one of the eCommerce mistakes you should avoid.

You have to make the best of what you have: a few words and some images in our case. Customers have no other way of knowing what the products are all about, except for what they read and see. You have to help them and communicate the experience you deliver with any of your products.

a. Words

There is this chair. “How many things can you write about a chair?”

“A lot,” says the copywriter of Wayfair and writes this:

This description is not telling you about the product – it is selling you the product. Notice how he never mentioned ‘excellent product quality’, which is something you’d see in your standard furniture description.

Therefore, have to take the full advantage of your web browser window and make it as interesting as a shop window.

While successful copywriting is not an easy task, it doesn’t require any technical know-how, contrary to images.

b. Images

Product images should be clean and load fast. Thus, your purpose is to have large, attractive images at small file sizes.

During my research on low-quality images on eCommerce stores, I came across some interesting details about how to up your image game for the products on your site.

This is what Sila Mahmud, a graphics designer, and marketing expert have to say. If you haven’t hired a professional for the retouching of the products’ photographs, you should seriously consider applying these:

  • Composition: Zoom in on the product. Make it center stage. Whatever the product is, you do not need a lot of walls and floor. If you need a horizon in the picture, have it either one third from the bottom or one third from the top of the picture. A horizon dividing a picture into two halves makes it boring.
  • Background: The subject in your picture should contrast and stand out from its background. You want the visitor to focus on the product, not the background. Your web designer can display the product with the same background color as the web page, provided the background does not contain colors also in the product. (We have seen a product with things accidentally growing out of it).
  • Focus: Sharp pictures are usually needed to sell products unless you are selling a misty holiday location.
  • Format: JPG and GIF are normal formats for images on web pages. Not all browsers display PNG and BMP. Use GIFs where colors are flat and JPG for most photos. Every time you save a JPG the image quality degrades. Open original JPGs and save in TIF format. Edit in TIF and make just final save as JPG.

  • Add borders: This can be necessary to make images the same shape so that they show neatly in a page of products.
  • Quality: The original picture must be good, or you will waste hours editing.
  • Size: Resize the final image down to the size you want on the website. On 800×600 screens the browser margins leave only about 762 pixels of viewing width, and the viewing height is reduced by the size of the toolbar of individual visitors. Your 2400×1800 pixels picture may end up 400×300 which is why cropping is important to show the product as a big part of the picture.
  • Compression: To enable fast loading on the web, JPGs can be compressed. Compression by 25% to 35% can display good pictures, depending on the original. GIFs can be faster loading if the number of colors is reduced from 256 to 16, or whatever number keeps the desired color quality. Keep the image file on the graphics software screen, while viewing the effect in your browser in another window. Use trial and error.
  • Thumbnails: A large number of images can be displayed as thumbnails on one page, which can be clicked through to the full picture on another page. You can have two files for each picture, small and full size. The page with thumbnails will load faster. Or the thumbnail page can display the full-size image in thumbnail size by specifying smaller widths or heights in the HTML code.

Mistake #5: Not following the journey of your customer on your site

Time for our last of the most common eCommerce mistakes digital shops make.

For years, eCommerce owners and webmasters were left in the dark as to what their customers were doing on their site. But their prayers were answered. The Marketing Gods sent Hotjar, Mouseflow, Luckyorange, Zarget, and Inspectlet, among other digital angels. And then a new era in digital marketing began.

These tools allow you to understand your web and mobile site visitors. If we agree that Analytics is about quantity, Hotjar and the rest products I mentioned are about quality.

I will focus on Hotjar because it’s the most popular right now and if you understand how one of these services work, you have a pretty good idea of how the rest work as well.

One of its tools is Heatmaps. Heatmaps will give you the ability to see which part(s) of your eCommerce store customers interact the most with, as well as reveal to you through which device they are connected (desktop, mobile or tablet).

Recordings can give you real-time insight into how your visitors are navigating through your site. You can even record a session and use it for future reference.

There is also a forms feature, where for each form you have, you can know exactly where and when your customers stop filling them in.

Features like these will possibly give you a good answer as to why your customers may not make a purchase. Is your delivery form so long that your customers grow impatient and make a cart abandonment? Does a particular page loads forever, your customer gets discouraged and closes the tab or goes to another page? You now can have all the answers.

Information is vital for selling, and eCommerce owners now have more information in their hands than ever. Avoid these common eCommerce mistakes stores do to increase the chances of your business to flourish!