How to Overcome the Biggest Online Retail Business Challenges

02.16.2018 no comments

Did you know that only $1 is spent on conversions for every $92 spent on lead generation? Does that sound like a fair distribution of your resources? The major challenge that online retail businesses are faced with is low conversions. The good news is that a few simple tweaks to your website can help you boost your conversions immensely.Competition in the online retail market is immense. Especially with the presence of bigger whales like Amazon, you constantly need to be on the top of your game. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common challenges faced by online retailers, and ways to overcome them.

Attracting and Retaining Customers

If you’re an online retail business owner, you know how difficult it is to attract customers and get more website traffic. You might be spending a lot on SEO and paid search to direct more traffic to your website. However, if they don’t like what they see, they’ll leave immediately.

Here are some tried and tested strategies to make sure that you are able to engage your customers:

Create Attractive, Valuable Content

The first thing you need to do is have a website that includes rich, valuable content. The attention span of an average person today is 8 seconds. If your website fails to make an impression in that time, your efforts will be in vain. Make sure that your website is designed aesthetically, and has pleasing colors and fonts.

White Card Courses was able to increase their conversion rate by 32% by tweaking their website design. They changed some background colors to improve the readability of the text, and added some trust badges. These changes not only boosted their conversions, but also increased the clicks to their payment page by 20.9%.

Image via VWO

Not just that. You must also make sure that when customers land on your site from search, the content on that page is relevant. If not, they’ll simply get frustrated, and leave the site.

Write Great Product Descriptions

Because the competition in this space is fierce, your product descriptions need to be impeccable. Make sure that your product descriptions aren’t just off the label. They should not only talk about the products’ features, but also how they would solve a customer’s problem.

Your product descriptions must include information such as:

  • Who will be using the product?
  • What are the product’s features and benefits?
  • How is it better than that of your competitors?
  • When and where would someone use the product?

Your product descriptions should try to make the experience as real as possible. Include high-quality product images and videos along with your product descriptions.

55% of consumers check online reviews and 26% visit physical stores to try the product before buying online. So make sure to include reviews as they can help provide potential customers a feel of the product.

Here’s an example of a great product description from Lush Cosmetics.

lush cosmetics

Image via Lush Cosmetics

Building Credibility

One of the biggest challenges faced by an ecommerce startup or small business is building credibility. If you’re new to the industry, it’s natural that customers won’t trust you right away.

Also, there’s a tendency for customers to flock to bigger retailers like Amazon rather than buying from smaller ones. 80% of all online sales are captured by Amazon. Hence you need to invest sufficient time and effort into making sure that your customers trust you.

Here are some effective ways of building credibility of your website:

Tell Them About You

Make sure to tell your story in your own voice that makes customers want to trust you. Let them know why they should buy from you, and what is it that sets you apart from others.

Sport Chek wanted to increase their conversions, so they decided to make their free shipping offer appear more valuable. When customers hit the threshold for free shipping, they displayed a congratulatory message. And for customers yet to reach it, they displayed the additional purchase amount necessary to qualify for the offer.

As a result of these changes, their transactions increased by 7.3%, and confidence reached 99.5%.

Wider Funnel

Image via Wider Funnel

Also, mention your physical store address and location so they know where to find you. And make sure to share the contact information of your helpdesk or support desk. This will help ensure that they know you’ll be there to help when they need it.

Include Testimonials

Testimonials are a great way of building credibility and trust. Testimonials are proof that other customers have found your products valuable. When a potential customer reads them, it instills trust in their minds, and their likelihood of purchasing increases.

ComScore found that their software product pages were not generating enough leads. So they experimented with the display location of their customer testimonials. By displaying it next to their product description, they were able to increase leads by 69%.


Image via ComScore

Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is one of the major challenges faced by online retail businesses today. 69% of consumers are known to abandon carts before completing their purchase. This can be detrimental to your conversions, and all your efforts to generate relevant leads may be wasted.

Brian Neville ONeill discussed the top reasons why online shoppers abandon their carts in this article. He also shared some useful insights about how emails can help to convert abandoned carts to sales.

Let’s take a closer look at some common reasons why customers abandon their carts and how to overcome them:

Extra Costs

Many websites make the mistake of adding extra costs like shipping on the checkout page and not upfront. This can dissuade customers from completing the purchase. 23% of online shoppers are known to abandon carts due to being aware of additional costs.

So it is a good idea to display all costs on the product page as shown in the below example from Sephora.


Image via Sephora

Account Creation

Many websites require you to create an account before you can actually complete a purchase. What you may not know is that 37% of online shoppers abandon their carts due to a mandatory account creation.

If you have a mandatory account creation process, it can kill your conversions. So make sure that your customers also have the option of purchasing as a guest without having to register.

Check out the example of Lush Cosmetics below. Not only do they allow you to create an account after checkout, but also login using your social profiles.

lush cosmetics

Image via Lush Cosmetics

Complicated Checkout

28% of consumers are known to abandon their shopping carts if the checkout process is too long or complicated. So try to make your checkout process simple.

For best results, try to contain it in a single page as shown in the below example. Also, make sure not to include any irrelevant pop-ups for upselling.

beauty bridge

Image via Beauty Bridge


You might be taking the strictest of measures to ensure that payments are going through in a secure manner. However, if you don’t let your customers know that, you might be driving them away.

19% of consumers will abandon their shopping carts when they don’t trust a website with their payment information. So you need to let your customers know that their payment information is safe with you. Make sure to use security signs such as Verisign or Bizrate.


Image via Walmart

Final Thoughts

Online businesses take a considerable investment of time, money, and effort to grow successfully. What we’ve discussed above are some of the most common challenges faced by online retailers. Following the steps described above can go a long way in overcoming these challenges.

Can you think of any other major challenges which are faced by online retail businesses today? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by:
Shane Baker

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities

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