5 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Online Sales

sign_forbiddenWooCommerce is great ecommerce platform – the best available in so far as I know. However, if you’re running or building an online store there are a few things you should be aware of that can increase your sales by simply not doing them. Less is more when it comes to your store (oh hey, that rhymes!), so I’m going to fill you in on 5 things to avoid doing because more often than not they turn out to be very big mistakes.

While reading this article keep one thing firmly in mind: Anything you do that hampers the flow from product page to checkout completion reduces the likelihood of a shopper finalizing their order. Let’s face it, some people are on a hurried mission to find exactly what they’re looking for without being distracted and annoyed in the process – there’s no sense getting in the way of people buying your products and services, you might lose sales over it.

So here we go … 5 things to avoid doing in your store:

Automatic popover and popup boxes

emoticon_frownOne of the easiest ways to annoy a shopper is with popups and popovers that automatically appear either immediately when a person lands on your site, some time shortly thereafter. This instantly distracts the shopper and it is rarely ever a good thing to do that. It’s worse than a great movie being interrupted by a commercial unexpectedly. Much worse.

In most cases I’ve seen these popups used to do one of two things: Ask people to sign up to a newsletter, or to offer the shopper a discount, and sometimes both at the same time. For example, “Sign up to our newsletter and get an instant 10% discount.”

There are better ways to get the job done. For example, post a coupon code in the top of your site somewhere, or in a sidebar and use styling that makes it glaringly apparent. Here at IgniteWoo we use a fixed position non-scrolling bar the top of the page, usually with a bold red background and white text, to announce a sales and its associated coupon code. It’s incredibly hard to miss that on a page.

If you want to get people signed up to your newsletter consider taking a different approach: Maybe put a signup form in your sidebar and automatically add them to your mailing list during checkout when they place an order – and be certain to use opt-in confirmation so the shoppers gets an email asking them to confirm subscription to your newsletter. This way they aren’t fully added to your mailing list until they consciously opt in, and you aren’t thought of as spamming your shoppers when they unexpectedly receive a newsletter from you that they didn’t know might be coming.

Multi-step checkout

emoticon_surprised In my humble opinion there’s nothing more annoying in a shopping adventure than having to go through 3 or more checkout pages to finally wind up at the point I can make a payment for something I’m buying. And I’m definitely not the only one that feels that way.

Consumer studies show that having a multi-step checkout process reduces the likelihood that your shopper will finalize the sale. I suspect that this is precisely the reason why by default WooCommerce uses an easy, simple, one page checkout form where billing, shipping, and payment information are all entered on one page.

However, some theme developers build a 3 or 4 page checkout process into their themes, usually as an option you can turn on or off. If your site has that sort of multi-page checkout you might want to consider turning that feature off if you can, my guess is that doing so will help increase your sales to some extent or other by reducing the burden on the shopper.

Misuse of product image zoom

emoticon_uncool Product image zoom is a nifty feature found on many Web sites, and it may become a standard part of WooCommerce when version 2.8 makes its eventual debut. If you aren’t familiar with image zooming, it’s a feature that lets a shopper mouse over a product image to zoom in on parts of the image. It has valid uses, for example it can sometimes be very useful when you sell tiny items like rings and pendents, and when a shopper is browsing your site on mobile devices, such as phones, that usually have small screens. However when used across the board for all devices it can be a very big annoyance unless it’s really necessary to have zoom for a definite known purpose that helps sales.

For example, if a person is sitting at modern desktop computer they probably have a decent computer screen size, and it’s safe to say that being able to see the entire image of a product all once on the screen is a good thing. It’s gives the shopper an immediate overview of the items they’re browsing on your site. But if your site is only using zoom without any ability for the shopper to view the entire enlarged image in a lightbox, then it’s sort of like asking somebody to view your product through a pinhole since there’s no ability to see the big overall pictures. And it’s incredibly annoying on large screen devices – including tablets.

So, if you implement product image zoom then seriously consider ensuring there’s a way for the shopper to view the entire enlarged image in case that’s what they want to do. You might also consider implementing your zoom functionality so that it only kicks into action if the shopper is using a mobile device with a small screen.

Site clutter – aka Distractions

emoticon_confusedThe more distractions you put in the shoppers face the more things they have to distract them from putting items in the cart and finalizing their purchase. To give you an idea of what I’m referring to, some sites have scrolling text banners, image sliders that rotate every few seconds, or blinking graphics and mostly useless Giphy images, or audio and videos that automatically start playing – none of which (in most cases) are truly necessary to help a shopper buy what they need.

There’s a simple of rule of thumb to follow: If a feature is not essential to sales, or doesn’t directly improve sales, get rid of it fast! Don’t distract your shoppers!

Auto-play multimedia and animations

emoticon_angryAuto-play audio, video, and useless animated images are a bane on the entire Internet. Never do that on your site, ever. It’s seriously bad manners and almost totally lacks any semblance of external consideration for your site visitors.

Ask yourself this: What if your shopper is laying in bed a night and someone else is that bed asleep? Or what if they’re at the office with coworkers around?  They’re probably not going to be happy that a video or audio starts playing automatically blaring into the environment. In such a case you’ve forced it on them and chances are that’s going leave a very bad impression, some might even think “Well if you’re that inconsiderate I can only image how bad your customer service is.”

And animated gifs … oh boy. Having autoplay animations on a Web page is no different than someone waving their hands in your face while you’re trying to read. Just don’t do it! It’s classic “doing it wrong” Web design.  (An exception to this rule would be stuff like the Christmas lights on the IgniteWoo site during the holiday season. They’re animated, but very slowly, and at the very top of the page so they don’t distract from anything. They simply add a bit of ambiance).

In closing

So there you have it, 5 things that probably ought never be done when designing your ecommerce store. Think them over, experiment with the suggestions, you may find that your sales noticeably improve by avoiding them entirely.