Whether you run a brick-and-mortar location or operate exclusively online, eCommerce can help your small business expand your customer base, increase visibility, and boost profits. But there’s more to eCommerce than setting up an online storefront and hoping that people will buy.
Many small businesses fail to consider their eCommerce operations from a customer point of view. As a result, they see little to no online sales. You don’t have to be Amazon to succeed with eCommerce, but you should still emulate the aspects of successful eTailers that keep customers flocking to them for online purchases.
Is your small business making any of these big eCommerce mistakes?
1. Not Telling Customers Why They Should Shop Your Online Store
One of the most common and often overlooked mistakes on small business eCommerce sites is the failure to communicate a clear value proposition. With more than 200,000  eCommerce sites in the United States alone, it’s easy for yours to get lost in a sea of competition. You need a way to stand out from the crowd .
Your eCommerce website should give customers a reason to shop with you online, right from the start. Consider what makes you better than the competition:
- Do you have a better selection?
- Excellent customer service?
- Guaranteed low prices?
- A loyalty or reward program?
Pinpoint what makes your eCommerce store unique, and highlight that value with compelling headlines and concise copy throughout your site.
2. Displaying Sloppy or Low Quality Product Images
In an online shopping environment, images are central to success. Great product images  can close a sale, while poor product images can drive potential customers away, never to return. Visitors to your storefront can’t pick up your products and look at them, so your images have to do all the selling.
Investing in professional, high quality product images is the best thing you can do for your small business eCommerce site. The best product images are high resolution and offer customers the ability to enlarge, as well as view your products from multiple angles.
In addition, your product descriptions should contain all the information your customers need, but can’t get from a photo:
- Available colors and sizes
- Anything unique or beneficial
3. Failing to Win Customer Trust
Security is important to online shoppers. Just about everyone knows and trusts Amazon, which means they won’t hesitate to click the buy button when they find a product they like. But as a small business, you need to give customers clear reasons to trust that buying online from you is safe.
The most important factor in eCommerce security is payment authentication. Most online shoppers are savvy enough to look for signs that you’re using a secure payment gateway, including a padlock icon and https URL prefix, and recognizable authentication logos from a trusted SSL certificate authentication provider like VeriSign, Comodo, or Go Daddy.
If your site isn’t verified through a trusted authentication source, customers are unlikely to entrust their credit card or bank account details to you.
Other factors that can convey consumer trustworthiness include a modern, clean site design and a customer review system that lets shoppers read and leave reviews of your products and services.
4. Dropping the Ball at the Checkout
The final customer test of your eCommerce site arrives when it’s time to make the purchase. You might have a stunning website filled with great products, compelling descriptions, and advanced security. But if your checkout process is confusing, complex, or irritating, you’ll end up with a lot of abandoned carts.
Make sure your checkout solution is smooth, streamlined, and simple for your customers. Once again, consider Amazon as an example. The retail giant’s one-click ordering system makes it easy to buy and encourages repeat business. Requiring your customers to jump through hoops to make a purchase will only send them to your competition.
In addition to a smooth checkout, make sure you have clear and easy to find shipping rates and policies, as well as defined return policies and customer service contact information for as many channels as possible—phone, email, or even instant chat.
By implementing best practices for your online store , your small business can achieve big gains in eCommerce.
Frustrated Shopping Online  Photo via Shutterstock