Online retail: a list of ten mistakes to avoid

To convert a customer and build customer loyalty, your site should provide a flawless experience. Any pain points or inconvenience runs the risk of losing a customer and them abandoning their purchase. To overcome this, we have identified the 10 points of vigilance to remove all obstacles in the customer's buying process. From display times to transaction emails, discover the errors to avoid.

 1. An excessively long response time

Waiting time is the number 1 priority for customer relations in all sectors. On the phone, at the checkouts, in the fitting rooms... and on the web. In terms of the Internet, the problem lies in the time it takes a page to fully load. If a page takes more than 3 seconds, more than half of Internet users are likely to leave the site. A very selective requirement that has a significant impact on mobile site referencing. Since July 2018, Google has announced that it will take this data into account when calculating its algorithms. To get a good score, think about reducing the weight of your images, enhancing your developments and using browser caching.

 2. A website which is not adapted to mobile phones

With nearly 30% of sales made on mobile phones, your interface needs to be well adapted for smart phones. It needs to be designed with mobile phones in mind, in order to provide an optimal user experience. This involves all stages of the creation process: design, content, images and illustrations, videos, action buttons. The user should not have to zoom in and out to view the content.

➡ For more information: Why do mobile shoppers prefer a simplified payment method?

3. Unavailable products

There is nothing more disappointing than your order being cancelled due to ruptured stock. To avoid this inconvenience, you should estimate the 'buffer stock' required for each of your product references, based on the purchase frequency and the restocking time. 

This buffer stock will allow you to automatically manage how you display the product, depending on its availability, or even to add a message warning Internet users that this product is soon to go out of stock. You can also provide an alert system to inform the customer as soon as the product is available again.

 4. Delivery charges indicated at the last minute

60 % of shopping basket abandonments are linked to hidden delivery costs that are considered too high (1).

It is important to opt for effective and transparent communication. Shipping costs must be easily visible on your site, in the footer for example, as well as on your product pages. It is important to inform your customer of the delivery conditions as soon as possible (deadlines and costs) and to specify the return and refund terms and conditions.

If your delivery terms are linked to a minimum purchase amount, you may want to suggest attractive additional products that could convince your customer to purchase more products in order to benefit from favourable delivery conditions.

 5. A complicated registration form

Another major conversion issue is the account creation form. With many sites offering one-click payment options, customers are increasingly reluctant to fill in forms that are extremely complex. You should therefore limit the fields to essential information and keep the interface relatively simple. The form should ideally fit on a page, be light, legible, and explanatory (preferably with examples of how to fill in the fields). Errors should be clearly pointed out when filling in the form, or upon completion, so that the user can quickly identify and correct them. Any information request should be justified to the customer: the telephone number will be useful for the delivery person to contact you, the date of birth to benefit from a special offer or receive a gift on your birthday, etc.

6. A single payment method

While in terms of payment, the card is still dominant in France with 90% of the 1.5 billion transactions recorded in 2018 (80% of product sales), other methods are rapidly developing, including credit payments, giving customers the option to pay in 3 or 4 instalments, with or without fees, and this now accounts for over 15% of online product sales. Another payment method is the electronic wallet (mainly PayPal), which represents 11.5% of transactions. These developments suggest the potential creation of new payment paradigms based on "instant payment" or instant transfer.2

A phenomenon that aligns the French market with its neighbouring countries, and which highlights the importance of offering your customers more options when it comes to payments, bearing in mind that failure to provide the preferred payment method is responsible for half of all shopping basket cancellations.

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7. The lack of self-help tools

Faced with increasingly demanding customers who want everything right away, self-help tools have become extremely important for a successful customer relationship.

According to Forrester, 72% of consumers prefer to solve their problem on their own without using customer service. Hence the importance of providing them with proven tools such as a FAQ, access to instructions for use or a chat-bot. These are powerful tools, but should not replace a contact form or telephone assistance.

8. Lack of content and advice

In addition to self-help tools, editorial content is also important to help your customer in their choices. The brand presentation, its history, philosophy, values and commitments, are all reassuring elements for consumers who are looking for items to compare. Content should nourish the user experience, immerse them in your brand universe, demonstrate your expertise and therefore make you stand out in marketplaces.

9. The lack of visuals

The absence of visuals, or visuals of insufficient quality, is a real obstacle for consumers who prefer to visualise their purchase, even when it's a service. Photos should therefore be inspiring, aspiration-oriented to evoke emotions and positively impact your visitor. To enhance the value of a product, think about providing photos of the product in-use, giving customers a better idea of its size and appearance. You may also want to consider offering detailed views, even if your interface has a zoom function. Some products may also need more demonstrative photos to explain the benefits of the product (before/after for example). 

➡ For more information: How to reduce the size and weight of your e-Commerce photos

10. "404 file not found"

The 404 error is one of the most frequent errors on the Internet.Who hasn't come across an error page containing "404 file not found"? These pages are generated when a page does not exist (url error) or similar. To detect them, you can use the Google Search Console tool and perform 301 redirections. You can also exploit this error page and make it useful, even pleasing for users, with a design that reflects your graphic charter, content that is inspired by your story-telling and your brand image, in order to refer the user to similar pages or to the home page. 

➡ For more information: What is a HTTP 404 error and how to fix it on your online store?

Traffic is often a priority for online retailers. That being said, if it is important to generate visits to your site, it is just as important to satisfy your visitors; to surprise them, increase your chances of conversion and build their loyalty. Paying attention to your site's interface and the quality of its content and services will make all the difference.


1. 2016 Conversion Barometer - Captain Commerce

2. Source: FEVAD

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