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22 Common Technical Mistakes in Online Stores

If we own an online store, technical maintenance will be one of the key factors we need to think about. The online store may go down when new updates are installing. Sometimes shoppers do unexpected actions that can cause the website to crash. Did we set the functionalities right or the IT team overlooked some mistakes?

The biggest mistake most users make is not choosing the right platform for their online store. – wpbeginner.com

You can identify common technical mistakes in the different circumstances of an online store. You can find them in the source code, on the servers, pages, content etc.  If the store has bugs, this may decrease sales.

Here is the list of the mistakes in online stores that you should give attention to:

1. Poorly Coded Theme

Choose a suitable theme relative to your eCommerce needs. Analyze what tools the store can use in the future. Get a unique theme developed for your niche. A well-coded theme will prevent you from spending hours setting it. Find a theme that has a design layout that meets your goal.

Consider the following:

  • Does the theme support plugins and upgrades? This is critical for developing your store.
  • Is the theme translation-ready and built with multilingual support?
  • Is it an SEO-friendly theme? The theme can generate poorly coded HTML that leads to low site performance on search engines.
  • Is it possible to customize the look of my online store in the future?

2. Desktop-Only Site Design

Make your site mobile-friendly. Sales and conversions also come from mobile devices. Tablets and mobile phones are mostly used in the evening. Most of the consumers around the globe are multi-platform. They will often be multi-screening and accessing sites on mobile or desktop. Think about how you can provide consistent experiences across the devices.

2016 Global Digital Future in Focus, comScore Report

Image: 2016 Global Digital Future in Focus, comScore Report

3. Disorganized Analytics and Data Technologies

Is it important how online stores integrate data and related technologies? The common mistake is not to track the consumer’s path to purchase.  Trace the buyer’s journey of your customers and analyze how to make more relevant the customer experience.

In the digital era, your store must have a data strategy. Fetch user’s data to understand audiences more deeply. Marketing analytics is the way to better decisions and strong results. Get your online store information in order if you want to turn insights into actions.

The Customer Experience Is Written in Data study shows that marketers are more likely to use:

  • Audience-level data to personalize their customer experience.
  • Digital analytics to optimize user experience in real time.
  • Customer-level data to segment and reach individuals.
  • Attribution to evaluate how channels work together and to allocate budgets.

4. Lack of Sitemaps and Robots.txt

Both of them are must-have technical solutions for every e-commerce business. Without them, your web store cannot communicate properly with search engines. The sitemap improves your online store’s visibility for search engines. The well-structured map help pages to be found with keywords or phrases in searches.

A sitemap is a map of your online store content. When you develop a new site or upgrade an old one be sure a sitemap will be created for the new pages. The main purpose of the sitemap is to help search engines index your site.

sitemap example

Image: woocommerce.com/2016/01/ecommerce-sitemap-explained

Robots.txt file covers the instructions for web robots. The file “says” which pages are allowed or prohibited to visit. This file is a public text file and usually is situated here: “http://www.example.com/robots.txt”. Search engine crawlers open and “read” domains robots.txt.

In the robots.txt file, you must put URLs on your site which you do not want to be allowed to index.  Any sensitive data may be seen If your online store doesn’t have the robots.txt file. SEO errors and indexation problems can be expected if the file is not properly written.

5. Lack of Security

Common technical mistakes can be identified in securing the web store. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a must for online payments. Install this certificate where sensitive information is entered on the e-commerce store.

SSL is used to encrypt information transferred across the Internet. Visitors who feel more protected are more likely to buy something from your online store.

6. Unnecessary Popups

No one likes unwanted window notifications that appear at the wrong moments. Your store should manage precisely how popups should appear in the right position and at the right time.  Popups’ main purpose are to bring more conversions, but they don’t need to be big and loudly presented. Make them clever and genuinely awesome.

A good example of pop-up with two options to interact with brand – email or Facebook:

popup example

Image: smartrmail.com/blog/examples-of-effective-popups-for-ecommerce-fashion-stores

7. Missing Filters and Sorting Options

Using filters is an easy way for visitors to find a specific product on a category page with hundreds of listings. Install this functionality in your store and set up the products to be more easily filtered.

In general, you can consider the following:

  • Presenting sort by options.
  • Filtering within a category.
  • More clever filters, such as ‘Occasion: Anniversary, New year’s Eve, Wedding, New Baby’.
  • Allow users to select more than one filter.
  • Make it easy to add and remove filters.
  • Refresh the page quickly.
  • Avoid returning no results.
  • Put filters in collapsible menu.

8. Chatbot Services

Chatbots are automated programs which work faster than a human. Basically, we can communicate with them in messaging apps. They are a new channel for online sales. Chatbots can provide assistance and can also present a product that is suitable to the shopper.

We recommend you to experiment with them but be prudent using them. Ask yourself what is the main purpose of integrating it in your online store? Is there ROI for now? Тest to see if chatbots will help you convert to real, profitable sales.

Consider these before you start implementing chatbot service:

  • A chatbot is powered by rules or artificial intelligence.
  • What unique value can it add to the user?
  • Chatbot can do automation tasks in the same way like the email marketing automation.
  • Identify the channels where your customers want to find you.
  • Automated or human interactions?
  • Chatbot requires highly specialized skills.

Example interaction with chatbot on Facebook Messenger app that enables users to opt-in to receive content:

chatbot service

Image: https://www.matthewbarby.com/chatbot-marketing/

9. Slow Loading Pages

Speed is very important for pages which aim conversions. We appreciate testing every landing page for speed improvements. Over half of mobile users will abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load.

speed and bounce rate

Image: www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/data-measurement/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks

Experienced web developers do these steps by default in optimizing process:

  • Minification of all JavaScript
  • Minification of all CSS
  • Server-side HTTP compression
  • Optimization of image size and resolution

Tip:  Monitoring the bounce rate in Google Analytics helps to give a clear answer:

“…if your home page is the gateway to the rest of your site (e.g., news articles, product pages, your checkout process) and a high percentage of users are viewing only your home page, then you don’t want a high bounce rate.

On the other hand, if you have a single-page site like a blog, or offer other types of content for which single-page sessions are expected, then a high bounce rate is perfectly normal.”

10. Form Validation Mistakes

Form validation checks if the information provided by a user is correct. Develop a user-friendly form with clear error or confirmation messages. Use good UX examples for your ecommerce website. These are the other things you can do to provide a better user experience:

  • Inline validation – validation messages after the user inputs the data to form fields.
  • Use microcopy to increase clarity.
  • Be clear when communicating errors.
 Inline validation and Microcopy text

Images: Inline validation in twitter.com/signup and Microcopy text in mailchimp.com/signup

11. Browser Incompatibility

In most cases during the development process of the website, it is using only one browser for tests. Developers need to switch browsers frequently to avoid mistakes. The fact is they use only one in 90% of the time. When the final product is near to the end process you can also start testing it in other browsers.

Clever tips in testing during development phase:

  • Test web store with different browsers regularly
  • Not every customer is using the latest version of the browser (for security reasons). Make new updates compatible with old versions.
  • Use cross-browser compatible code if it is possible.

12. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is when pages of your website appear in more than one location on the Internet. This decreases your (SEO) and the ranking of the site.  Search engines crawl duplicate content and they don’t know what page to show to the user. As a result, pages will no longer appear in search results.

Remove duplicated pages from the Google index by following these steps from Google:

  • Use 301 redirects (“Redirect Permanent”).
  • Try to keep your internal linking consistent. For example, don’t link to http://www.example.com/page/ and http://www.example.com/page and http://www.example.com/page/index.htm.
  • Use top-level domains.
  • Use Search Console to show how you prefer your site to be indexed.
  • Cut similar content.
  • Canonical URLs show search engines that there is only one version of the page’s URL that should be indexed. No matter what other URL versions are rendered in the browser.
  • Limit redirection hops to two or fewer.

13. No Internal Links

The internal link building process starts from the beginning of site production. Internal links are important SEO factor. You need good linking (contextual and logic) between navigation, categories, pages, articles. Include new links to relevant valuable pages.

Tips for your ecommerce store:

  • Don’t install plugins that generate links.
  • Avoid using automatic linking (to similar posts).
  • Don’t use automatic solution to improve your linking.
  • Regularly check for any broken links.
  • Avoid using the “nofollow” attribute

14. Set Up of Permalinks (Permanent Links)

URL structure is important for the website’s SEO, usability, and indexing. Permalinks have to be a readable URLs, so it is easy for people to type and remember them. The common technical mistakes in online stores is not to set up the default URL structure of your online store.

Tips for structuring URLs:

  • Keep your URLs short but still descriptive.
  • Fewer folders are better.
  • Try to keep your URLs under 100 characters.
  • Include product keywords in URLs.
  • Categories and subcategories should be organized in folders. They reflect your website’s navigation or organization.
  • Use hyphens to separate words.
  • Avoid the use of parameters, if possible trim unnecessary parameters.
  • Keywords should be in the page title, product name, product description, image tags, and even the URL.
scale of url readability mistakes in online stores

Image: https://moz.com/blog/15-seo-best-practices-for-structuring-urls

15. No Automated Backups

When something crashes, automated backups can recover the site’s information. Backup solutions are not expensive and should not be disregarded. Do you want to build your ecommerce store again from scratch? Consider your suitable configurations for scheduled backups.

For example, look at the options from “The Best Online Backup Services of 2017” from PCMAG:

backup services example mistakes in online stores

16. Not Implementing Structured Data

Rich snippets or structured data is a script code which adds extra details about the website’s data and content. Details might include videos, product extra info, ratings and reviews, price, and product availability. Information on the website has to be structured. After structuring, search engines organize and display it in lists of search results.

For example, the image below shows  search results with integrated snippet data in Amazon:

amazon rich snippets data example

Tip:  Use Structured Data Markup Helper to add snippets. Тest information with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Тhere are many other tools to check and verify this information.

Note: Adding the markup will not guarantee rich snippets that appear within the SERP. Reasons why your snippets don’t show, here in FAQs for Rich Snippets.

17. Unreliable Hosting Provider

Choose capable and quality hosting provider for your e-commerce site. How to find the ideal hosting provider for your business?

Important things to look for:

  • Bandwidth and server capacity. How will the store works if sales grow 10x or 20x or more, does the hosting plan have the ability to expand?
  • Is the hosting plan optimized for your web store CMS (WordPress or other)?
  • Processors speed and efficiency.
  • Hard Drive Space – look for SSD drives and more disk space.
  • 24/7 tech support via phone and e-mail.
  • Which operating system does the hosting provider use, Linux or Windows?
  • Daily backups and 100% uptime.

18. Inconvenient Payment System

The main question here is which major payment gateways are you going to integrate? Where possible, choose a payment gateway that already has a plugin for your platform. Make the online payments process as smooth and seamless as possible for customers.

Define this important points for your business:

  • Understand which payment methods people in your target market would like to use.
  • Do you want customers to enter their payment details directly on your site?
  • Consider how to develop a mobile-optimized payment flow.

19. Items were ‘Out of Stock’

In an online store, when one product is out of stock there are three basic options:

  • Leave product page to be online.
  • Redirecting the product page.
  • Delete the product page and show a 404 or 410 status page.

They can be chosen depending on that if the product page has external links. These links are a strong ranking factor used by search engines, don’t lose that value. If the page contains links, redirect the page to a related product. If there are no links, redirect the product page to a related category.

When the product page is not converting but has traffic, you can redirect the page to a relevant product. If the page is converting, leave the page online and redirect the customers to other relevant products. When the page doesn’t have any external links or traffic, set the 404 page and submit to Google Search Console for removal. If the product will be back in stock, keep the product page online and provide an expected back-in-stock date.

20. Lack of Shipping Options

Expand your online store shipping options to meet more customers and not to lose sales. If users can’t find their preferred mail delivery option, they will abandon the shopping cart process. To make your store grow you need to integrate more advantages like:

  • Real-time rate calculation based on estimated weight and customer location for shipping costs.
  • Limiting your shipping options like shipment sizes and weights and zones.
  • Adding or removing shipping options at checkout.

21. JavaScript Errors

The common technical problem appears in Google Analytics usually. The problem is in limit: 500 hits per session (he applies to ga.js, mobile snippets, and any other legacy tracking library).

The solution is to create an “Exception tracking that allows you to measure the number and type of crashes or errors that occur on your property.” Free solution monitoring JavaScript errors is a Chrome extension JavaScript Errors Notifier.

Tip: How to collect e-commerce data using analytics.js? This technique sends data to Google Analytics from the browser.

22. Server Errors and Site Maintenance

Errors during checkout can be particularly upsetting to users. Prevent things that take down the entire site or from customers checking out. Make information recovery easy for users. Offer to users alternative ways to complete their purchase (e.g. completing the order via phone). Temporarily set storing the user’s input in a client-side database.

Conclusion

E-commerce online platforms have their own behavior and functionality. Possible mistakes come into view in different situations in usage.

Technical mistakes in online stores are increasing nowadays. How would you avoid and prevent them? DevriX has world-class professionals who can analyze your websites and give solutions.

What has been your experience with technical problems in e-commerce stores? How did you resolve them?

Let us know in the comments below!

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