The Most Common Mistakes You Can Make in Ecommerce in 2023

E-tailers, don’t make these common ecommerce mistakes that will make your life harder and hurt your bottom line. Here’s what to avoid in 2023 and beyond.

Running an online store is like any other endeavor: You’re going to make some mistakes, but you’ll learn from them and bounce back better than before. One difference, however, is the literal cost of ecommerce mistakes. It’s rare that a single error will shutter your business overnight, but small blunders add up until the well runs dry. 

But fear not! We’re here to help you navigate the world of online retail and highlight the ecommerce mistakes to avoid at all costs. Read on to learn more.

Skipping All Branding

Unless you’re an ecommerce behemoth that sells a massive array of products, branding is an important part of your business. Your brand is your public persona, the embodiment of your online store’s ethos. And everything about your brand, from the voice and tone you use to the values that drive your business, is an opportunity to capture a new customer. Skipping it is a huge mistake. 

Branding typically starts with the visual components like a logo, color palette and font. Think of a seasonal store like Spirit Halloween using a hooded skeleton in its logo and a color scheme with orange, yellow and black. These evoke a spooky theme and quickly inform shoppers of what they can expect. Similarly, REI’s earthy tones and tree logo showcase its outdoorsy offerings. 

Brand voice is the next step, adding another layer to an online store’s persona. Most businesses stick to a straightforward, conversational voice, but others truly shine when they depart from the norm. Nike, for example, is confident and assertive in its messaging. Coca-Cola, on the other hand, is positive and friendly. Think about how you’d like to address your customers and if it aligns with your product catalog. After all, it wouldn’t make sense for a baby supplies shop to “speak” using complicated words and a somber tone.   

E-tailers are uniquely positioned to also use packaging as a branding opportunity. Packaging creates the “wow” factor that consumers love — and love to share, often via unboxing videos on social media. Research shows 93% of customers rate visual appearance as the most important element when shopping. What’s more, studies have found returning customers spend 67% more on their second purchases, so making the most of your first impression is paramount.

All in all, skipping all branding is an ecommerce mistake you don’t want to make. With ample providers of unique packaging, including affordable options for all online retailers with services like Primeline Packaging (our top pick for retailers looking for packaging that adds zazzle and the “wow” factor to every order), you can’t afford to go wrong here. 

Using Minimal Product Descriptions

It may sound counterintuitive, but giving shoppers as much information as possible will win them over. In today’s crowded ecommerce landscape, if consumers can’t find all the details of a product, they’ll simply bounce to a different website. They want the measurements, the materials, the specifications and, ideally, examples of how the product is used in real life. In short, they want you to write awesome product descriptions or else!

Product landing pages are the perfect place to showcase all the information at once, but don’t make the mistake of adding minimal details before moving on to the next. Vivid, optimized product descriptions (more on this later) will make your store easy to find, while a full gallery of images and videos can properly showcase your products. If you sell apparel, be sure to hire a diverse array of models so consumers see how the clothes fit different body types. Other helpful ideas include how-to videos, setup instructions or customer-provided content. 

Speaking of customers, their feedback is crucial for thorough product descriptions. Displaying reviews is a proven strategy for boosting conversions, average order value and customer retention. Check out these ecommerce product reviews statistics that tell the story:

  • 92% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase.
  • Product reviews can increase your conversion rate by up to 58%.
  • 87% of shoppers trust reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • 63% of consumers are more likely to buy if the site features reviews.

The good news is 70% of customers will write a review if requested, so avoiding this ecommerce mistake is easy — all you have to do is ask. 

Having No Ecommerce SEO Strategy

Chances are, you went into ecommerce to sell, not to be a digital marketer. But the competition is fierce, and you need every edge you can get. Enter: ecommerce SEO, or search engine optimization. As mentioned earlier, solid SEO-friendly product descriptions can make your online store easy to find because the copy on your website matches the queries they’re searching. Optimized product titles and descriptions will improve your search rankings, increase your traffic, and ultimately skyrocket your sales. 

Our guide to optimizing your product pages for search can help you get started, but here’s the quick version: 

  • Identify your top keywords. Research the terms shoppers are searching using a tool like Sonar or Jungle Scout to determine if they’re worth using on your website. 
  • Create a searchable title. Use your brand name, product type (this is probably a keyword) and the most relevant information about your product in 70 characters or fewer. 
  • Write the description. Each product description should be concise and appealing to the reader while also using the same keyword from the title, plus other keywords you found in your research.
  • Optimize your images. Add the keywords to the file names and alt text of your images.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to higher-intent website traffic. And don’t miss more ways to improve ecommerce SEO for next steps.

Not Optimizing Your Website UX

Once you’ve attracted shoppers to your online store with the nifty SEO tricks listed above, it’s imperative they have a streamlined experience. Your website’s UX directly correlates with how likely consumers will stay on the site and whether or not they’ll return to make more purchases in the future, so “good enough” won’t cut it.

Loading time is an extremely important aspect of the user experience, so start here when optimizing your website. Each second of load time results in an 11% drop in page views, a 7% drop in conversions and a 16% drop in customer satisfaction. Upgrading your website is a miniscule investment compared to the costly mistake of leaving it slow and clunky. 

On top of agility, your website needs mobile optimization. Smartphones are ubiquitous, and there are hundreds of millions of mobile shoppers in the U.S. alone. It’s time to face the mcommerce facts:

  • 41% of retail ecommerce sales are attributed to mcommerce, or mobile commerce.
  • 69% of ecommerce website traffic comes from smartphones.
  • 57% of shoppers will not recommend an online store that isn’t mobile optimized.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finally, your online store needs an easy checkout. Just as shoppers will bounce from your website if it takes too long to load or is too difficult to navigate, they’ll abandon their carts if the checkout process has the same problems. Consider this: An estimated $4 billion in merchandise is left in online shopping carts every year, and 27% of it is due to a difficult checkout process.

Barring All Ecommerce Returns

Haven’t you heard? Easy, hassle-free returns are a proven way to hook new customers and retain them for years to come, so barring all returns is a huge mistake. Though one might think refusing returns is a way to cut down on expenses (and therefore make more money), the truth is it alienates shoppers. There is a certain risk with buying items online, so ecommerce consumers want reassurance they can return products that don’t work for one reason or another. In fact, savvy shoppers go looking for return policies before even making a purchase.  

The latest ecommerce returns statistics paint a clear picture: Seamless returns delight customers, drive second-chance sales and keep them coming back for more. A poor returns experience, on the other hand, pushes your customers away and leads to fewer word-of-mouth recommendations. Our favorite example is online shoe retailer Zappos, which has a 35% return rate but steady revenue, 75% of which is attributed to repeat customers. 

Need a simple way to add hassle-free returns to your ecommerce store? We’ve got you covered.

There You Have It!

A thriving business looks different to every retailer, but it’s far easier to do when these common ecommerce mistakes aren’t holding you back. Avoid the errors we’ve listed here, and check out some related guides for further reading.

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