17 Reasons Why You’re Failing to Increase Your Online Sales

Author's avatar Sales Dec 21, 2020 20 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    You have a great product. And you know it’ll sell like hotcakes.

    You invest money and time into building an amazing eCommerce store.

    Now you wait for sales to come pouring in.

    But… crickets.

    Sales are trickling in, but not enough. Weeks turn into months and your sales aren’t increasing.

    Why? What are you doing wrong? 

    That’s exactly what we’ll discuss in this article. 


    Let’s get started.

    How Much is the eCommerce Industry Worth?

    The eCommerce industry is on a boom.

    In 2019, retail ecommerce sales worldwide amounted to $3.53 trillion and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to $6.54 trillion in 2022.

    Total retail sales worldwide, 2017-2023
    Source – Shopify.com

    And that’s not it.

    Despite the current pandemic and the uncertainty, US retailers pulled in a whopping $10.84 billion in online sales and made it the biggest US online shopping day ever.

    cyber monday online shopping.
    Source – Businessinsider.com

    And it’s only expected to increase. According to eMarketer, eCommerce sales will reach 14.4% of all US retail spending this year and 19.2% by 2024. 

    17 Reasons Why You Can’t Increase Your eCommerce Sales

    “There are several reasons eCommerce stores have difficulty increasing sales.” Explains Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging.

    “People are shopping online more than ever due to the pandemic. However, because of the pandemic, consumers are worried about health and money. Since money does not come as easy as it used to, eCommerce stores are struggling. Even if money isn’t a problem, consumers are worried it might become an issue.”

    So, if you’re not seeing as many sales as you predicted and would like to amp them up, read on.

    We’ve got 33 marketers on board to explain some of the common mistakes eCommerce brands make during their sales process.

    1. Failure to send traffic to popular products
    2. Relying on old technologies
    3. Not targeting the right audience
    4. Only focusing on one-time purchases
    5. Not optimizing products for search intent
    6. Low-quality visuals
    7. Low site speed
    8. Not having multiple revenue streams
    9. Too many steps to make a purchase
    10. Poor product descriptions
    11. Bad eCommerce UX
    12. Focusing on just paid ads
    13. Not taking advantage of Google Shopping Ads
    14. Not remarketing effectively
    15. Lack of social proof
    16. Inadequate product research
    17. Fail to maintain customer loyalty

    1. Failure to send traffic to popular products

    “The biggest issue I see and have had to overcome within our own organization is a failure to send traffic to the store generally and to bestselling, high margin product pages. A ‘build it and they will come’ mentality doesn’t cut it for eCommerce anymore. With well-designed product pages and mobile-optimized stores becoming the norm, a combination of owned, earned, and paid media is essential to increase store traffic and increase sales.” Shares Benjamin Sweeney of ClydeBank Media

    The solution? 

    “Develop a marketing budget, and start spending and experimenting. Test everything and record all of your results, and make sure that your goals are tied to revenue.” Says Sweeney.

    2. Relying on old technologies

    “Ecommerce stores are expecting to stay competitive in a high-performance world, where they’re relying on older technologies to keep them at speed. When using monolithic solutions like ‘full stack’ CMS, Commerce solutions, or DXPs, they tend to sacrifice velocity for ‘Feature bloat’ which is expensive, and cannot be scaled based on their needs.” Explains Ronak Ganatra of GraphCMS.

    How can eCommerce stories embrace new technologies? 

    Ganatra recommends eCommerce stores to, “look into modern technologies that specifically address their needs, and go for a modular ‘best of breed’ approach rather than paying through their nose for an ‘enterprise solution that does everything’, since they pay for features that slow them down without even being used.”

    3. Not targeting the right audience

    The biggest mistake you can make as an eCommerce store owner is not targeting the right audience. 

    As Tonya Davis of Frenchplanations shares, “It’s important to define your target audience first, then tailor your products towards them. 

    For example, if you were trying to sell something on eBay, you wouldn’t just list an item and hope it sells. You would first do your research to see what is selling, then sell that item. E-Commerce is the same way. You need to know who your audience is, what they are interested in, and how you can appeal to their interests.”

    How do you find the right audience to target? “By researching the market and surveying the audience,” as Andre Oentoro of Milkwhale explains.

    Max Engler of Perfect Search Media agrees and adds, “Sales can falter or not reach expected metrics when not enough time is taken to define target audiences. This includes segmenting audiences and testing different groups for ad campaigns.”

    Ben McLaughlan of Easy Mode Media says, “By having the target keyword of a product page not reflecting the buyer intent of a search query, your conversion rate through organic search will not be as effective as it could be.”

    The solution?

    Define your audience. Be as specific as possible.

    “E-commerce stores need to define their target audience and understand their interests, favorite brands, behaviors, and numerous other factors that allow advertisers to speak to these audiences in ways that motivate them to purchase from the brand and share the brand.” Explains Engler.

    Mclaughlan adds, “If your product page is targeting those who are looking to buy straight away, the language used and call to action will be different from an informational page.”

    4. Only focusing on one-time purchases

    Amir Yazdan of GroMD believes the biggest mistake eCommerce stores make is only focusing on one-time purchases.

    “Once a customer visits your site and makes a purchase or signs up for a service, then it’s important to follow up and offer incentives to make another purchase of either the same product, or to try other products.

    A good way to ensure this is to provide in-depth information on upsells. Let your customers know about all of the products that are offered, and how well they can work with what they’ve already purchased.” Advises Yazdan.

    5. Not optimizing products for search intent

    “Ecommerce stores often have trouble increasing sales year over year because they aren’t optimizing their product pages for search intent”. Explains Elizabeth Weatherby of AH Management Group.

    “When you’re constantly optimizing keywords and page designs to capture users and funnel them through your site effectively, you have a better chance of increasing sales YoY.”

    The solution is investing time or money in optimizing your products and website for search engines. 

    As Weatherby says, “This comes with some extra keyword research and consumer research, but is worth it for your marketing team.”

    Related: 18 Fundamental Ecommerce SEO Tips for Driving Sales Through Search Engines

    6. Low quality visuals

    VisualFizz’s Marissa Ryan says, “A common reason businesses hit sales plateaus is their imagery. While custom photos and up-to-date media can be costly, high-quality images and ‘lifestyle’ focused images containing products can improve conversion rates from image-based channels, especially social media. Social media users expect exciting, high-quality content that conveys a desirable lifestyle.”

    How do you fix this problem?

    Easy. Upload high resolution, attractive pictures of your products and, “aim to establish unique and customized imagery that incorporates your eCommerce products. You can and should hire a professional product photographer, but eCommerce brands can also utilize influencers and user-generated content (content that your customers have created themselves with your products) to help them build up their content libraries.”

    7. Low site-speed

    WP Speed Fix’s Brendan Tully shares that site speed can definitely be a roadblock.

    “I’m not so much talking about the load speed of the homepage or the more traditional speed metrics that Pagespeed Insights or GTMetrix pumps out, I’m referring more to things like the cart and checkout speed.

    We do a lot of consulting work with bigger Woocommerce sites and a common problem we see is slow checkouts, slow My Account areas and so forth, all areas commonly overlooked when it comes to site speed.”

    Tully recommends business owners to, “run through their own checkout process at least once a month to make sure it’s working, it’s fast and bug free.”

    Tully further adds, “For big sites (and Woocommerce sites in particular) really need an optimized MySQL setup, Redis Object caching and fast hosting for the cart and checkout experience to be fast. Running some sort of RUM (real user monitoring) tool is advisable too as it’ll give you speed reporting based on how actual users are experiencing the site, not just synthetic speed test data.”

    Tom Zsomborgi of Kinsta also believes that the speed and performance of your eCommerce store are crucial, however very often overlooked and underestimated. 

    “Our attention span is just a few seconds and we users hate to wait 20-30 seconds or more to add something to the cart or complete the checkout. Users simply move on and buy those products elsewhere especially when they visit your store on mobile.” 

    Zsomborgi adds,  “There are several ways to improve the performance like optimizing images, strip unused scripts, implement HTTP/2, setup proper caching, clean up databases or by moving to an eCommerce optimized web host or faster server.”

    Related: 15 Website Speed Optimization Tips That Anyone Can Implement

    8. Not having multiple revenue streams

    Alex Hamilton of Summerstar Tourist Parks believes by sticking to one core service and not searching or adding additional revenue streams, businesses can find it hard to increase sales. 

    “While you may have a core product or service offering that can be purchased online, many customers can be encouraged to increase the volume of their purchase with subtle prompts.

    For example, a travel enthusiast looking for accommodation in a particular region may also be searching for a local tour or attractions in the same destinations. By allowing the user to make accommodation and tour/experience bookings together, you are able to create a better user experience and increase sales.” Explains Hamilton.

    The best solution to this problem is, “diversify your product offerings and create bundles or prompt users to purchase multiple products/services and you should see sales increase.”

    Editor’s note: Track purchases and campaigns in one single ecommerce reporting software like Databox and focus on matters – your performance.

    9. Too many steps to make a purchase

    Companies that create an easy buying process are 62% more likely to win a high-quality sale.

    Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Company says, “A lot of e-commerce stores have too many steps to make a purchase. You need to understand that for each extra step, you will lose customers. You should make your sales and payment process as simple as possible. You don’t want your customer journey to be complicated and bring barriers to your potential customers. Make it easy for clients to add products to the cart, access the cart and add several payment options (Credit card, PayPal…).” 

    SoftwarePundit’s Bruce Hogan is of the same mind and says, “eCommerce stores often have too many steps in the funnel. This can be true of registration or checkout funnels.”

    An easy fix is to, “remove all unnecessary form fields and funnel steps. For example, it’s a best practice to use email addresses as usernames. Enabling guest checkout is another valuable way to remove steps in the funnel.” Explains Hogan.

    10. Poor product descriptions

    Alicja Olko of sixads believes, “One of the major eCommerce pain points for customers is irrelevant, low-quality products descriptions that are not properly optimized. Due to that customers have a hard time finding a product they are looking for, get insufficient information once they manage to find it, and, in result, they don’t proceed to check out.”

    Every eCommerce business should work on product descriptions. 

    As Olko explains, “Mastering the art of writing attention-grabbing descriptions that are also informative and optimized will result in increased conversions and, in the end, growing revenue.”

    11. Bad eCommerce UX

    Samiksha Rawool of Yummy Tummy Recipes shares, “Sub-standard user experience is most common a major reason why eCommerce stores have a hard time increasing their sales. Statistics show that for every one-second delay in page load time the conversions can fall by up to 7%.”

    How can brands increase conversions?

    Rawools reveals two of her tried and tested tips and says, “Using countdown clock on my landing page (caused 11% increase in conversions), and using exit pop-ups (I used ‘Hello Bar’ to do this). For me, the above tactics have resulted in an increase in sales and also an increase in average order value.” 

    Saif Al-Janabi of Blank Space is of the same mind. “Providing a shopping experience that reflects the company’s objectives and the mission goes hand-in-hand with the brand aspect. By providing information that helps the users make a better decision is often an overlooked element. Especially when store owners rely on what eCommerce platforms like (Shopify) provide out of the box. It’s always recommended that companies engineer their own product page that best fits their product/offering.

    As an example, if a company is selling subscription-based products (Like Meal Prep) It’s important that UX is in line with what the customer expectations are when looking to purchase such products. In the (Meal Prep) example, a good UX would be to allow people to see at a glance a list of the menu items and have ‘BUILD YOUR PLAN’ as the call to action where they can select the frequency of their order/ number of meals/ meal types and then proceed to checkout.” Explains Al-Janabi.

    Jennifer Willy of Etia agrees and says, “Due to COVID-19, many changes have taken place as we all are restricted due to the ill-effects of the disease. A survey by Engine found that people are spending on average 10-30% more online. One of the most important reasons for low sales revenue in all the eCommerce stores is an accessibility issue. Not all store applications are mobile-friendly or they have complex UI that hinders the customer’s navigability.”

    Alex Keyan of goPure Brands recommends eCommerce store owners to verify exactly what’s up through user flow mapping. “You will see what parts of your website are the most prevalent and which ones cause the attention spans of visitors to taper off. And if people click off your online shop, you can pinpoint where they navigate next.”

    And while you’re fixing your website, make sure you optimize it for mobile. 

    After all, there are over 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide and 69% of internet users prefer to look for reviews on their phones.

    As Borislav Ivanov of Best Response Media says, “I believe that the design and construction of e-commerce projects should be mobile-first, so as to address the main issues such as – prioritization of content, elements and speed.”

    12. Focusing on just paid ads

    “The absolute number 1 mistake I see is businesses getting results through PPC or paid social, and just doubling down on that at the expense of anything else.” Explains Will Laurenson of Monkey Blocks

    “Yes it works, it drives business to the site and you’ll get sales, but it doesn’t build long-term growth. If you’re relying on your paid ads driving the majority of your sales there will come a time when suddenly things start going wrong, your CPAs go up, and revenues go down.”

    Laurenson suggests to build out the customer experience. 

    “Make sure your customer service experience is fantastic, get marketing automation in place to nurture customers once they’ve signed up or made that first purchase, get a good loyalty scheme in place.

    Build relationships and engage with your customers, and you’ll benefit in the long run. More of these customers will come back to you again and again without being prompted, and the rest you can bring back via email or SMS marketing.

    You’ll also build a solid base of quality reviews faster, which not only aid your paid efforts but also your organic reach and word of mouth.

    Lifetime value is crucial to any business, and if your lifetime orders per customer hover around the 1-1.5 mark you’re chasing orders, chasing customers. Get that number up as much as you can, and if you sell a product that naturally has a low order frequency then work out how you can get those customers referring others to you.”

    If not more, then spend equal time and money on SEO.

    As Sarah Taher of Delta Growth says, “From what I’ve seen many of them focus their growth tactics on paid ads be it on Facebook, Google or other channels while they invest less towards SEO. SEO is the most cost-effective channel and should be considered the core of all marketing and growth efforts.”

    Alex Birkett of Everything But The Plant also believes that the lack of a repeatable customer acquisition channel can pose a major problem for eCommerce business owners.

    “Many retailers will get some initial traction with a fun idea and paid acquisition, and then over time, CAC will increase and they begin relying on discounting, too many email blasts, and burning more and more paid spend on less efficient audiences. 

    One easy way to get out of this is by investing in a repeatable, compounding channel. My favorite is SEO. It could also be virality. But I like to have at least one channel that has an increasing marginal utility instead of a rapidly declining efficiency. At Everything But The Plant, it’s all SEO and content and it’s highly predictable.”

    He further advises businesses to, “Draw up an acquisition channel matrix that indexes on variables like reach, ease, payback period, and S-Curve maturity.

    Figure out which longer-term channel you’d like to experiment with in addition to your existing money-making channels.

    Chip away at the channel with fast feedback experiments to see if you can get traction there.

    If you get traction, pour gasoline on the fire and scale. If you don’t, try another channel.” You can measure the effectiveness of a channel in driving sales for your business with this sales dashboard.

    13. Not taking advantage of Google Shopping Ads

    Juan Izquierdo believes one common reason that e-commerce stores have a hard time increasing sales is that, “they do not have their products displayed on Google Shopping and are specifically not taking advantage of Google Shopping Ads.”

    So, “take the top-selling products and create Google Shopping Ads immediately.” Urges Izquierdo.

    14. Not remarketing effectively

    Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles believes a common reason why eCommerce businesses fail to increase their sales is not remarketing effectively. 

    “A lot of e-commerce stores will use blanket remarketing ads to target all site visitors regardless of the pages they visited. Some will go the extra mile of using dynamic remarketing ads which will help conversions. But still not enough to go the whole way and provide sequential retargeting ads to help educate the user on the benefits of the given product all the way through to a sale.” Explains Dodds.

    The solution?

    “Investing a little time in sequential retargeting messages and ads can pay huge dividends. Think through how to position your product so it addresses each of the problems your prospective customer is experiencing. And sell them on the outcomes of using your product with imagery that tells the story of the outcome.” Advises Dodds. Measure the impact of your remarketing campaigns in driving your sales volume using this sales dashboard software.

    15. Lack of social proof

    Social proof is critical in driving online sales, and lack of it can definitely result in low conversions.

    As Domantas Gudeliauskas of Hostinger says, “A likely reason for decreasing eCommerce sales is a lack of social proof on product pages. With every other brand promising their customers the world and more, people become more skeptical of UVPs. 

    The best way to solve this is by adding a review section, testimonials, or links to TrustPilot or similar platforms.”

    16. Inadequate product research

    Drew Estes of Massview.com shares, “One common reason eCommerce stores have a hard time increasing sales is from one early mistake: inadequate or incorrect product research methods. Merchants often pick products in overly competitive categories or with too little demand.”

    Estes recommends merchants to, “rely on data rather than instinct when choosing what to sell. Product research tools are inexpensive, and they can help you find a product that’s not just in demand, but also has low competition and profitable margins — not to mention you can find your product within an hour or two.”

    17. Fail to maintain customer loyalty

    Jordan Smyth of Gleamin believes that one of the main reasons ecommerce stores struggle with increasing sales is, “because they cannot guarantee a return customer.” 

    Smyth further adds, “When getting that initial first-time customer sale you have to focus on speed on all fronts. Both with the delivery of your product, but the response to any and all tickets/inquiries. Simply putting attention towards this department and realizing that without a great customer experience, your business will retain customers.”


    The solution?

    As Alicia Thomas of Postscript says, “Send targeted offers based on past purchase behavior for complementing products and automate post-purchase communications, like SMS, with their customers, brands can continue to build a relationship (and further sales).”

    Now you know what not to do in order to increase online sales. Another thing that can help you to stay on track is sales forecasting. If you are a HubSpot user, here’s how to do a sales forecast in Databox.

    Author's avatar
    Article by
    Maham S. Chappal

    Maham S. Chappal is a content writer for SaaS and marketing brands in B2B. She’s been published in several leading publications including Social Media Examiner. She loves writing in-depth, research-backed content that drives traffic, increases brand awareness, and boosts ROI. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her engrossed in the latest John Grisham novel. You can find her on LinkedIn or on mahamschappal.com

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