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12 Mistakes to Avoid When Building an E-commerce Brand

12 Mistakes to Avoid When Building an E-commerce Brand

Online shopping has become a huge part of everyday life. From massive companies like Amazon to small businesses just starting, the e-commerce industry is more competitive than ever. Building a strong brand is crucial to stand out and succeed.

Starting an e-commerce business is exciting but also challenging. With so many players in the game, even a small mistake early on can be costly. The good news is missteps can be learning opportunities if you're willing to adjust the course.

As you grow your business, focus on creating customer connections and delivering quality products. Build a brand personality that reflects your values. And remember the power of marketing – compellingly tell your story.

There will always be bumps in the road, but avoiding common pitfalls gives your e-commerce venture its best shot. With smart strategy and dedication, your brand can thrive amid the competition. The rewards of building something meaningful make the effort worthwhile.

So avoid these significant mistakes, learn from experience, and stay focused on your goals – this is the formula for e-commerce success. The opportunity is yours for the taking.

Not Investing in Website Design

Fitness Ecommerce Business Idea Niche

While looks certainly aren't everything, visual appeal does play an essential role in how people perceive and engage with brands, products, and services. A thoughtful, well-designed aesthetic can convey professionalism, attention to detail, and care for the customer experience.

However, focusing solely on looks without substance rings hollow—the most influential brands balance visual appeal with meaningful value, authenticity, and purpose. The exterior should align with and elevate the interior.

For businesses, this means considering both form and function. A website's design should facilitate usability and conversion while reflecting brand identity. Product packaging should protect and display while capturing interest. Graphic materials should communicate key messages clearly and memorably.

Beauty has power but must serve a greater good. When paired with intent, integrity, and utility, an appealing visual presentation makes it easier for customers to perceive and receive the underlying worth a company provides. A polished image should never mask shoddy offerings – it should herald and enhance them.

In the modern crowded marketplace, looks do matter. But they are most effective when rooted in and expressing something of genuine depth and quality. Savvy companies recognise this balance, leveraging aesthetics not for deception but to reveal and extend their best attributes. In this way, beauty becomes an honest indicator of value and a strategic asset for businesses with substance to share.

Not having a Clear Value Proposition

A common mistake many e-commerce businesses make is not having a clear value proposition on their website's homepage. This error can be fatal if not recognised and addressed early in business development.

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When potential customers visit your site and can't immediately grasp what you offer or why they should purchase from you, they will likely leave and never return. Your homepage is your first and only chance to grab their attention and communicate your unique selling points. Without a compelling value proposition, you risk losing customers to competitors who more clearly state their offerings.

An effective homepage should convey your product or service's primary benefits, features, and differentiators. It should answer the customer's “What's in it for me?” question in seconds. An unclear or overly generic value statement will fail to hook site visitors into exploring further or drive conversions.

To illustrate what an impactful value proposition looks like, here are a few great examples from successful e-commerce companies:

Uber immediately communicates their service: “Tap the app, get a ride.” The page emphasises ease, speed, and reliability in getting a car on demand.

Shopify leads with “Start, grow, and manage your business.” The homepage focuses on providing a one-stop platform to launch and scale an e-commerce store.

Snapchat Spectacles' site simply states “A new perspective” above photos of their funky camera glasses product. They let the product images tell the story.

Each company clearly articulates their primary value concisely and engagingly tailored to its brand. Their homepages don't rely on generic filler text – they get straight to what makes them worth a customer's time and money.

Crafting a compelling value proposition could make or break your e-commerce venture. Ensure your homepage instantly communicates what your product offers and why it's superior before visitors navigate away. A clear, unique selling point captures attention and drives conversions.

Underestimating the Power of Marketing

Video Thumbnail: The #1 Content Marketing Strategy For Ecommerce

Creating remarkable content is essential for any successful marketing strategy. However, it's not enough to simply generate lots of content. You must take a strategic, multi-channel approach to engage your audience and drive conversions.

The goal of content marketing is not just to attract an audience but to nurture them through their buyer's journey until they are ready to become customers. This requires developing personas and mapping the touchpoints where your audience is most receptive. Meet them where they are – whether that's through educational blog posts, entertaining social media, or helpful email newsletters.

Craft your content to speak directly to their needs and pain points. Tell a compelling story that builds an emotional connection. Leverage different formats like video, podcasts, and visuals to capture attention in a crowded space. Make sure the user experience is seamless by optimising for search and mobile.

But content is only one part of the puzzle. To generate conversions, you need to incorporate it into a cohesive marketing strategy across multiple channels. SEO builds organic visibility and traffic. Social media expands your reach. Paid tactics like PPC ads target those ready to buy. Email nurturing converts subscribers into loyal customers. They all work together to attract, engage, and delight your audience.

The key is to always think of the customer first. Provide value without an overly salesy or promotional tone. Build relationships and community. Meet their needs at the right moment to help guide them on their journey with your brand. With remarkable content seamlessly woven into a multi-channel approach, you can captivate your audience and generate real business impact.

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Forgetting to Display Social Proof in your E-Commerce Brand

Social proof is among the most potent factors influencing consumers' purchasing decisions, especially when deciding between comparable products or brands. Customer reviews, testimonials, influencer endorsements, referral programs, and other forms of social validation have become indispensable in e-commerce.

Research shows that 95% of people read online reviews before purchasing. Humans are wired to look at what others are doing and follow the crowd. If a product has raving 5-star reviews, people will trust it more than without reviews. We tend to think – “if so many others vouch for it, it must be good!”

Positive customer testimonials are social proof that the product delivers on its claims. Customers trust the real-life experiences of other users more than a promotional copy. User-generated content in the form of reviews, ratings, photos, and videos offers authenticity that resonates with potential buyers.

Besides reviews, the number of followers, likes, shares, and engagement a brand has on social media also provides cues on its reputation and popularity. More social media buzz indicates that it's a beloved, trusted brand.

Influencer marketing leverages the followers of social media influencers to build credibility around a product. Getting influencers with domain authority to promote and recommend products amplifies reach and drives conversions.

The power of social proof is not limited to the pre-purchase stage but extends to post-purchase. Loyalty programs that reward existing customers for referrals are a great way to grow your customer base.

The verdict is clear – social proof in its various forms is invaluable for customer acquisition and retention. Invest time and effort into building authentic social proof at each customer journey stage – awareness, consideration, purchase and advocacy. It could make or break your e-commerce venture.

Targeting the Wrong Audience

Identify Target Audience Users

A fantastic product or service is only the first step to business success. You also need to identify and target the right audience. Without the proper targeting, even the most brilliant idea will fall flat.

Let's consider smartphones as an example. Say you've developed the latest and greatest device on the market. If you market primarily to older people who have never owned a smartphone, you likely won't generate many sales. Your product simply doesn't solve a problem or fill that demographic's needs.

On the other hand, targeting your outreach to busy young professionals who rely on their phones for work and socialising would align well. Your product improves their daily life and addresses their needs.

Determining your ideal customer requires research and legwork. You must intimately understand their demographics, psychographics, interests, and pain points.

Some key questions to ask:

  • What are the age, gender, location, income level, education, interests, and values of your ideal customer? Developing a demographic profile is crucial.
  • What problems or needs does your product solve for them? How can it improve their life and make things easier? Identifying motivations and desires provides direction.
  • Where does your audience spend their time online and offline? Determining where to connect with them is critical for marketing success.
  • What messaging style and channels appeal to them? Aligning your branding with their preferences enables you to engage.
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While hiring an expert consultant can shortcut the process, nothing beats first-hand research. Immersing yourself in your audience's world by attending their events, reading their publications, and interacting online will provide invaluable insights.

Once you understand your ideal customer intimately, you can develop an effective, long-term strategy to earn their business and loyalty. The effort is well worth it. Identifying and connecting with the right audience is the key to e-commerce success.

Poor Customer Service

Dealing with poor customer service can ruin someone's day. We've all been there – stuck on an endless phone tree, transferred to multiple departments, repeating our issue repeatedly to reps who don't seem to listen or care. It's enough to make anyone want to scream! And when this happens with a brand we rely on, it can quickly erode our trust and loyalty.

As a business owner, ensuring your customers have a positive service experience should be a top priority. Take the time to hire patient, empathetic service reps who genuinely want to help people. Invest in proper training so your team has the knowledge and skills to resolve issues quickly and effectively. Make it easy for customers to get support through multiple channels like phone, email, chat, and social media.

The payoff for excellent service is enormous. Customers who feel heard, understood, and cared for are likelier to stick with your company and recommend you to others. And in today's competitive marketplace, loyalty is everything. A single negative interaction can cost you a lifelong customer.

Put yourself in your customers' shoes. We all want our problems to be fixed with minimal frustration. Customer service is a crucial touchpoint that shapes people's perceptions of your brand. Do it right, and you'll earn fans who praise you for years. Do it wrong, and you'll drive them straight into your competitors' arms. The choice is yours!

Reserving Reviews for Product Pages 

Reviews are essential social proof to include on your e-commerce website. They will benefit your brand and conversion rates in several ways. 

First, they will help your customers get to know a product better. There’s only so much you can say about your item. Customers will always be able to use different words and highlight various aspects of products. Also, their reviews will be more trusted than your marketing copy. 49% of customers trust reviews as much as they do recommendations from friends and family.

You have probably already included reviews on your product pages. You may even encourage customers to review products after they’ve purchased them. But you are still making an easily avoidable mistake. 

What happens if a potential customer never makes it to a product page? Do you want them to miss out on the positive effects of customer reviews? 

By making them easily accessible from every page, you can get more eyes on them and save visitors a lot of time. They won’t need to browse several pages to get a feel for the quality of your product. They can do so in a matter of minutes. 

Here’s an elegant solution. Dress Forms USA has a “reviews” flyout on every page. It’s noticeable but not obnoxiously so. It’s a collection of product reviews from verified customers you can easily read and scroll through. 

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12 Mistakes To Avoid When Building An E-Commerce Brand - Inkbot Design

You’ll be exposed to the brand’s product collections and see what customers have said about them. It’s a great way to put shoppers in a spending mindset and establish product quality. 

Only Featuring one kind of Social Proof

You already know how necessary social proof is for an e-commerce brand. It helps you highlight the perks of your products, allows customers to make the right choices, and can help establish your credibility as a brand. 

To make the most of it, incorporate various kinds of social proof on your pages in as many hidden ways as possible.

Product reviews should go on product pages and be incorporated as a flyout or in another design format. Testimonials can go on the homepage as well as on product category pages. You can even use them on your social media. 

You should also grab as much user-generated visual content as possible. It will mean encouraging customers to leave images with product reviews or establishing a vibrant social media presence

Look at Meowingtons, for example. They operate in a niche that lends itself exceptionally well to user-generated content. Their customers are highly likely to share images of their cats and are expected to recommend quality cat products to their followers. 

12 Mistakes To Avoid When Building An E-Commerce Brand - Inkbot Design

The brand has cleverly capitalised on these facts, and they have a neat UGC section on their homepage. It both promotes their social media accounts and showcases some gorgeous cats. Putting a smile on their customers’ faces is much more likely to put them in a purchasing mood. 

Forgetting to Cross and Upsell

As an e-commerce business, you shouldn’t forget to capitalise on the easy possibility of a cross-sell or an upsell. It will increase your average order value and the lifetime value of your customers, allowing you to grow your brand. 

The key to making these additional sales is thinking like your customers and outside the box. You need to show them the products they will likely be the most interested in. But you must also show them products that aren’t just the obvious choice.

You know your inventory best. Which products go well together? What categories can you recommend together?

Having several product carousels for recommendations can be an excellent way to go. For example, you can do a “people also bought” or “people also wishlist” one, where you draw information from other people’s shopping bags. You can have a “you might also like” carousel, where you recommend products based on your customers' knowledge and shopping habits.

Another great way to upsell your products is to offer product subscriptions. This tactic will work well for any product that needs to be repurchased regularly. Think toothpaste, coffee, and cat litter. 

Let your shoppers choose how often they want this item delivered. For example, the Transparent Labs’ Tongkat Ali product page is an excellent example of how you can do it. The brand gives you a small discount and free shipping if you subscribe, and you can choose when you want to get your subscription. 

12 Mistakes To Avoid When Building An E-Commerce Brand - Inkbot Design

Not Educating Your Customers

Depending on the nature of your products, your customers may need more or less help selecting the right one. 

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Many brands forget that they should help their visitors make educated purchasing decisions. You’re not just there to shove a lot of marketing materials and cleverly written product copy down their throats. You are there to help them. 

Customers who like the shopping experience are more likely to come back. If they are happy with their choice, they will remember your brand for future use. If they have bought the wrong product, especially if they were encouraged by your product description, they are more likely to look elsewhere. 

Consider the level of knowledge customers are likely to have about your product. What might be their most common conversion obstacles? What is it they are worried about? 

Answering these questions in a simple FAQ format on your product or product category pages can be a great asset.

Check out FOCL’s CBD for Sleep category page. It has a detailed question-and-answer section where the brand does a great job of alleviating the qualms of many of its customers. After all, this is a very niche product that some customers will purchase for the first time. It’s also a product that will directly impact their health and well-being. 

12 Mistakes To Avoid When Building An E-Commerce Brand - Inkbot Design

This informative and educational content is also a great way to boost your E-E-A-T and improve your rankings.

Not Highlighting the Perks of Conversion

Some brands make the mistake of hiding the perks of conversion. They may only feature them on the product page itself. They may only display them at checkout. And while it’s certainly nice to get a freebie while checking out, knowing there is, one could help someone choose to check out now or add more items to their cart. 

Instead, you want to display your perks or conversion boosters. The sooner your customers are made aware of them, the more likely they will factor them into their browsing. Play a bit with their FOMO, too, especially when a discount is involved. A ticking clock can be a great way to increase conversions. 

Look at ColourPop and how seamlessly they have included all the vital information that encourages checking out in their top banner. You are told exactly how much you must spend to qualify for free shipping. You are notified of their current offer and how much you will save. You are reminded that there is an 80% sale going on too.

Swapping out this information regularly for the latest news from your inventory is a great way to keep customers interested and alert. If they know they need to throw an extra item into their bag to get a perk, they’ll be happy to do it, as long as you make the perks enjoyable. 

Expecting Shoppers to Read Long Product Descriptions

Depending on the complexity of your products, you may be tempted to provide long, detailed product descriptions. However, you may find that many of your customers don’t want to read through them. 

Instead of long blocks of text or information-heavy paragraphs, format your product descriptions to be easy to digest. Add bullet points and keep your sentences short. Provide tables that list all the relevant information, especially if it comes in figures. 

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Add the FAQs as mentioned above to your pages to provide further details. You can also add product videos that will show the product and provide any additional information, if necessary. 

Check out this cotton bodysuit page. Since this is a product for babies, showcasing its quality is imperative. The brand does it very well by incorporating trust badges. 

12 Mistakes To Avoid When Building An E-Commerce Brand - Inkbot Design

They also keep the vital information at the top of their bulleted list. As you keep reading, it gets more and more whimsical, but you already have all the relevant information in your possession. 

When writing product descriptions, distil the information into keywords. Don’t turn them into long sentences. Stick to direct, bite-sized snippets.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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