gollum-whyReasons People Aren’t Buying Online from Small Ecommerce Sites

Just about any product or services offered in this world are offered on the World Wide Web. So what motivates a person to buy online? More specifically what motivates them to buy from you? When sales are at a standstill, consider the possibility that there is something wrong with your website’s setup.

I’ve worked with hundreds of online businesses and there are most certainly some common patterns between those that are successful and those that ultimately fail. I recently wrote a post that covered the 3 core reasons that most startups fail ranging from knowing your niche to having a marketing strategy. In this article I’m going to assume that you have defined your niche so that we can look at some core technical issues that could be dissuading customers from purchasing.

Why Your Site Isn’t Ready To Sell

consumer-expectationsJust because you have a site up and running does not mean that it is ready to sell. Maybe you have experienced something like this already. You’ve launched your site, you’re driving a lot of traffic and nothing is happening. I’ve seen it many times and it can be very deflating for the storeowner.

A client who recently came to me for help with a scenario very much like this was bewildered as to why there were no sales being made. This company had a unique product that was offered nowhere else. They had done demographic testing and plenty of product research, so what was going on? Within 2 minutes of looking through their Ecommerce website I found at least a dozen problems that would keep people from making a purchase. Here are a few key problems that many site with this same problem have in common.

1. You have absolutely no call to actions.

It’s a pretty big problem when your site doesn’t guide people to the action you desire. This is a clear indication that you are not giving your customers the information they are looking for. For example when I hit the home page for the client in my scenario above I was overwhelmed with a bunch of moving product imagery, but I had absolutely no idea what the purpose of any of those items were. This is a huge problem for a product that is new to people and that they probably aren’t looking for anyway. If you can’t sell them on the benefit of your product immediately they are going to bounce. Not only did they not sell the idea of their product, but there were absolutely no actionable items directing me to any better landing page.

In this particular instance, I was being paid to stay on the site, so I forced myself in a little deeper. There’s a “your Mama joke” in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.

2. Your Website is Not Finished.

This probably could have been point number one, but I’m going in the order for which I discovered the problems. I began clicking through category landing pages only to find that many of the category landing pages had no products or information. This was purely a case of the client wanting to go live and get sales before they were actually ready to. Having missing information and blank landing pages is a sure fire way to instill a complete lack of confidence in making a purchase from your website.

On category landing pages that did have products there was unfortunately still no explanation as to the usage or benefits of the product offered, just a standard grid layout of products and no call to action. You’d have to really want one of these things to keep going, that is if you actually knew what the hell it was.

3. You Instill Absolutely NO Trust.

The previous points have already contributed to the buyers declining lack of confidence in this store. To seal the deal there are 3 more critical trust factors missing on this site:

• No Testimonials or Reviews

One of the key components for pushing online shoppers into purchase mode is reading what other satisfied customers have to say. A lack of testimonials or reviews is a quick way to discourage the sale.

• No Customer Service Credentials

The site in question is obviously an ecommerce offender on multiple levels. To solidify their week online presence they failed to put any product terms and conditions as well as any legitimate way to contact the company. “Email Us Here” doesn’t give me a lot of faith in making this purchase; you have to be accessible to customers.

• No Third Party Verification Seals

Rounding out the trifecta of trust absence is the lack of any secure payment verification seals. You know these things…


When it comes to ecommerce keeping your site simple can go a long way. Keep in mind a simple site doesn’t mean ‘bare’ or ‘barely working’. Keeping your website simple means clear delineation of elements like tabs containing clear headings such as “products” and “services” or “promotions” instead of links connecting customers to more links.

The same is true for the checkout process. It could also be that people aren’t buying simply because your site requires too much information at checkout. Offer free shipping for completing a survey rather than including the survey in the checkout process for all customers.

Though many of the issues mentioned here were glaring, they do happen constantly across new online startups and many of these issues could be curtailed on the front side if the storeowner had simply asked, “would I buy from this store?” Sometimes it’s hard to see past the obvious when focusing solely on getting those dollars to role in.