In 2016, I started selling online. 2 years later, I achieved my first 7-figure store. By now, I’ve built 25 Shopify stores already. And I reckon that there are 5 most common mistakes store owners like we are unconsciously making which prevent us from success. Luckily, I found my own solutions and I’m happy to share them with you in this article.
5 Mistakes that hold down your success [+Pro Solutions]
After failing the first 2 stores, in April 2017, I opened the third one selling pet accessories. Long story short, this time, I sold a pet necklace at $29/item.
Though this necklace sold well, after a week, I realized its profit margin was so small (5% each) that I couldn’t scale up my store. So I increased the price to $39/item. Surprisingly, it still sold like hotcakes and soon became my best-seller for over a year onward.
Just a tweak to the product price and I earned an extra $10 per item sold. That added up to an extra $50,000/month and over an extra $500,000 profit after tax a year. This laid a solid financial foundation for me to soon scale it up to a 7-figure store.
That’s just one of the uncountable times I unconsciously left money on the table by neglecting small optimizations that can bring a big impact.
As an eCommerce guru who has built 25 Shopify stores, I learn the hard way that there are 5 most common mistakes you must avoid if you want to succeed in eCommerce.
#1. Failing to decide which products deserve more spotlight
If you think product labels are just for decorative purposes, you’re making the same mistake as I used to.
In BFCM 2020, I ran a flash sale campaign for a jewelry store of mine. Via ads and marketing channels that direct users to the product pages, my conversion rate was pretty high. However, when I tracked my customer behavior on Google Analytics, I saw that most of the traffic that visited my homepage first left without taking any action.
After investigating my website for a few hours, I realized that when visitors landed on my homepage or collection page, they saw my featured products but didn’t know these products were on sale.
So I thought the best way to inform them about my promotions would be via product labels. But adding a label on Shopify required coding so I asked around and a friend recommended Product Labels & Badges.
The app works perfectly fine, I could easily add sales tags to let potential customers know about my “Buy 2, Get 1 Off” campaign. What I love about it is that I can easily add catchy and mobile-friendly labels on my product displays without coding.
Thanks to the app, my flash sale campaigns exceeded my expectations since I can let much more customers know about my campaigns without spending more on paid channels.
It seems hard to believe but it was those small product labels that helped boost my store engagement rates by 150% and conversion rates by 15% on the overall flash sale campaign.
Here are two tips I used back then, which I believe also contributed to my impressive results:
- Customize your product labels (color, size, shape, etc.) to match your store design. This will make your labels more authentic and aesthetic, improving your conversions
- You can use product labels to inform your customers which products are in-stock, which are out-of-stock, which ones are the best-selling, etc. as well
#2. Not putting enough effort into Search Engine Optimization
Back then, I optimized my website SEO solely by stuffing relevant keywords, hoping my website would appear first on the search results when people search those keywords.
I waited for 3 months but none of my pages made their way to the first Google page. At that point, I realized Google’s ranking algorithm was more sophisticated than I thought.
So I spent a couple of days doing research and here’s what I found:
- Google’s mobile-first indexing policy states that all websites should be optimized for mobile visitors first
- Overstuffing keywords does more harm than good
- Don’t go over 10% for the main keyword density on a page. And remember to use LSI keywords besides the main keywords
- Your page speed has a big impact on your SEO ranking. So you need to work on speeding up your website too
On the keyword part, I did it by myself, but to make my site load faster and more optimized for mobile, I used Image Optimizer Page Speed.
This app helps merchants improve their online store’s loading speed by image lossless compression; auto-optimizing meta tags; auto-filling and submitting structured data to Google search engines.
With this SEO plugin, my Shopify website loads much faster and is ranking for more than 100 target keywords within three months.
This helped me earn a 30% rise in organic traffic and a 60% increase in the number of phone calls from organic searches.
#3. Leave customers confused about how to find the products they want
When I first launched my jewelry store, it had around 7 – 10 products and was converting well. So I expanded my store to over 100 products ranging from necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc. with an aim to grow by 20%-40% in sales.
But it didn’t live up to my expectations, while my traffic kept increasing, my sales just stabilized and even dropped at some points. So I tracked Google Analytics and saw that a lot of visitors bounced back when they were on the search and collection page.
So I knew I had 2 urgent tasks: enhancing my search bar and adding a filter on my collection page. After some tried and true testing, I found my life-saver: Product Filter & Search by Boost Commerce.
This tool is all that I was looking for. It helped me easily add a product filter to my collection page with all filter options like price range, color, materials, etc. The filter significantly improved my customer buying experience.
For instance, they only have to tick “$20-$50”, “silver”, and “necklace” to find exactly an affordable silver necklace to their liking.
The tool even helped enhance my search bar so that relevant items are displayed even when my customers type incorrectly spelled keywords or synonyms.
After 3 weeks of enhancing my search bar and collection page, my sales increased by 30%, even exceeding my original goal.
#4. No profit & loss tracking for constant optimization
When running the first 2 stores, I thought I must be making huge profits with lots of orders.
But it didn’t work that way. After a while, I took a step back to list down all my store’s expenses. It turned out my costs were surprisingly much higher than I thought – taxes, shipping fees, transaction fees, ad expenses, budget for KOLs, and countless other unexpected costs.
So with my third store, the first thing I did was find an efficient solution to track all my profits & losses. With a limited budget, I knew I couldn’t afford a full-time accountant. So instead, I looked for a profit calculator app and a guy on Shopify Community recommended me TrueProfit.
The tool worked like a dream, I could keep track of all my costs accurately and see whether I was actually making or losing money.
Let’s bring back the pet necklace pricing story. Thanks to TrueProfit, after 3 days of selling the item for $29, I realized I couldn’t scale up the store with only a 5% profit margin so I decided to increase the price to $39 and successfully scaled up my business to a 7-figure store.
Up to the present, TrueProfit is still the one and only profit-tracking app I stick to and I highly recommend you guys try it for the upcoming BFCM too!
PRO TIP: Because all your store’s analytics are calculated and automatically updated with TrueProfit, I advise you to track your store’s profits and losses every day, not just once a week/month. This will help you timely spot abnormal ups and downs to make necessary adjustments.
#5. Unoptimized web design
After closing the first 2 stores, I invested in an eCommerce course at $3,000 with four 1-on-1 Google Meet sessions. All I could remember from the course was 7 words: “Your stores look like a dropshipping store”. That comment completely changed my life.
As a merchant with little technical skills, I knew I needed a no-code page builder to optimize my web design. And I’m glad I found PageFly. This tool helps me easily build mobile-optimized pages with lots of pre-built templates (over 100 or so).
With a completely “upgraded” storefront, my conversion rate tripled from 1.3% to 4%. Here are 5 tips I’ve learned:
- Product descriptions that sell: don’t just go on and on with what characteristics your products have. Instead, briefly describe the benefits of using your products
- Stunning product images that grab attention: help customers visualize what they are going to spend their money on by providing high-quality images from different angles
- Mobile Responsiveness: ~41% of online shoppers buy a product via mobile, so having a mobile-optimized eCommerce website is crucial to get your revenue significantly up.
- User-friendly navigation: design a clean and navigable menu so visitors could skim through your website quickly and land on the page they want to immediately
- A simplified checkout process: try keeping the checkout process short (3 steps max) and give customers multiple options on how to pay. If you live in the regions where Shop Pay is supported, enable it for your customers to simplify their checkout experience
Until now PageFly is still my top choice any time I need to build a stunning page quickly.
As you’re reading to this point, I believe that you feel related to my story and may be interested in trying the solutions I’ve used. So here’s an exclusive deal from me: 25% off any the 5 apps above! (you’re welcome!)
Simply install your favorite apps, then insert code VETERAN22, and you’re all set!
I hope this blog post can help you realize how important it is to optimize your e-store, even the small details, because, as I said, sometimes changing a small detail can lead you to big magic.
Besides the 5 aforementioned ways, are there any other ways a merchant like us may leave our money on the table without even knowing?
Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions with me right in the comment section below!