I’ve been working with a fair amount of ecommerce websites lately and there are some themes I notice all too frequently when dealing with them at the time of the website launching. Most of the problems are on the development side of things and can easily be avoided.
Some of these are fairly broad topics with ecommerce website and there can be a lot of different scenarios that people miss. Here are a few I’ve seen come up:
- Robots.txt disallow the whole site
- Don’t have a payment gateway or payment processor setup
- Forgetting analytics
- Little to no products
You laugh because this seems simple but it happens ALL of the time. Developers might have a robots.txt on their development server and forget to take it off of the newly launch live website. Total FAIL.
As an SEO consultant, it’s important that you check the site over at launch and ensure you know what you’re looking at. It would be a shame if you reviewed the site, saw the robots.txt disallowing the site but didn’t know how to read it to know.
The entire point of an ecommerce website is to sell product, right? With that in mind, to be able to purchase, you need to be able to take a payment, right? I’ve seen sites launching with either poor or no payment gateway which means you cannot check out and you cannot make any money.
This one might be less obvious to some if you aren’t thinking about marketing your ecommerce site at the time of launch but it is pretty vital to have. Information from your analytics is vital down the road even if you don’t plan to use it initially. Google Analytics is a free option, throw it on there to at least track something.
Free shipping for all products – This isn’t a terrible thing but sometimes a client or site owner loses money with free shipping. There are many situations where a site can get into trouble and the biggest reason could be by not knowing the margins on the products. A site will say “Free Shipping”, the shipping costs them $10 and they were only going to make say $5 or $10 dollars on the sale.
Shipping not tested properly – Shipping cost can be determined through an API and if you don’t have something setup right and you don’t test it, it could be bad news. I saw a site auto defaulting to overnight shipping on at least 75% of the site’s products. On a $10 to $20 item, no one is going to pay $60+ on overnight shipping. Shipping cost is the #1 reason why people don’t purchase online or why they abandon a cart.
This is another one of those head smacking moments. Ecommerce websites are meant to sell so if you launch them, ensure there is product in the store. Some clients have ecommerce functionality added to their website after the initial website is built and that is fine. Since it isn’t the main focus of their site however, they have a store page with little or sometimes no products.
The best advice I can give when launching an ecommerce website or any website is to audit the site before launch, even to the point of having a check list. Sometimes the simple things are the most over looked. If you’re a developer, help your clients out by pointing some of these things out. Let them know that if they launch an online store with only a handful of products that their expectations of success could be missed by a long shot. People could be making a sizable investment in their website to add ecommerce and will not make it up with out the right things in place.