Thanks to ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Big Cartel, as well as payment processors like PayPal and Shop Pay, it’s never been easier to start your own digital storefront. At the same time, the proliferation of online shopping has made the marketplace more competitive than ever, and has also led to higher customer expectations.

Whether you’re an experienced enterprise company or a relative newcomer, there are a number of problems unique to ecommerce that brick-and-mortar retailers and other online businesses simply don’t have to deal with. How do you keep track of it all, while also making your customers happy and staying one step ahead of the competition?

Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most common problems faced by ecommerce sites today, and we’ll also provide some of our best ecommerce SEO tips to help you attract more customers, bring in more revenues, and take your business to the next level.

The Biggest Challenges in Ecommerce Today

Close-up of a man’s hand holding a credit card while making an online purchase

Identity Verification

The Problem: Some of the challenges of ecommerce are, at heart, not that different from the challenges experienced by brick-and-mortar businesses. For example, one hazard common to both online and IRL merchants is the possibility of being ripped off.

That said, it’s a lot easier to counterfeit a web identity than it is to counterfeit a dollar bill, which puts ecommerce websites at a distinct disadvantage. For example, if a fraudulent customer steals someone else’s credit card number and makes a purchase from your site, there’s a chance you could be held liable.

That means, even if you already shipped the product out to the buyer, you could end up losing the money from that sale. Even in cases where you’re able to reclaim mailed goods, the costs you paid for shipping are usually gone for good.

The Solution: Integrating identity verification software into your ecommerce website is one of the best ways of preventing fraudulent transactions.

These programs come with multi-layered authentication features built right in, and also help to identify signs of suspicious activity, such as billing and shipping addresses that don’t match or unusually high purchase volumes.

Additionally, if your business offers cash-on-delivery purchase options, which are especially prone to exploitation by malicious users, consider seting up an automated phone system that calls buyers at the time of sale to verify their identity and shipping information.

Digital Security

The Problem: Just like you don’t want to become a victim of credit card fraud, your customers don’t want that, either. Cybersecurity is one of the major challenges of online shopping that affects both buyers and sellers.

Without taking the right digital security measures, your business could become a target for hackers looking to gain access to customer identity and credit card data. Not only is that disastrous for your users, but it can also destroy your company’s reputation.

Almost as bad as having your ecommerce website’s security compromised is the perception that your website’s security is compromised. All it takes is one slip-up fo potential customers to change how they view your site; if they think buying from you is dangerous or risky, they’re more likely to look to your competitors to purchase the items they need.

The Solution: While cybersecurity is one of the most potentially problematic difficulties in online business, it’s also a one of the more surprisingly easy technical SEO issues to fix.

First, it’s a good idea to move your ecommerce website to a dedicated server, one that doesn’t host any other sites. Next, make and regularly update backups of your entire database; the bigger your company, the more frequently you should make new backups, even if that means doing it daily. Finally, make use of security software, plugins, and protocols.

The importance of HTTPS can’t be overstated here, nor how crucial it is that you stick with a credible and established third-party payment processing system. Safeguards such as firewalls, two-factor authentications, and anti-SQL injection plugins, are also useful in blocking suspicious networks without interfering with normal user traffic.

An abandoned shopping cart sitting in the middle of a parking lot

Abandoned Carts

The Problem: One of the most painful problems faced by ecommerce sites is the dreaded abandoned shopping cart. What’s worse, the number of reasons why customers abandon their carts is as vast as it is varied.

Sometimes the checkout process is too laborious or complicated. Sometimes they’re about to make a purchase only to find out the product they want is out of stock. Sometimes they simply get distracted and forget to finish their transaction.

Whatever the case, estimates suggest that as many as 70-80 percent of all digital shopping carts end up abandoned. That adds up to a lot of lost revenues for you. With so many different reasons behind why customers abandon carts, how do you know which solutions to implement? 

The Solution: If you’re serious about improving your ecommerce website, your best bet is to go directly to the people who matter most: the customers. Poll users to see what changes they would like to see, then think about how you can satisfy those demands. 

For example, if your checkout process is too long, you might want to look into integrating one-click purchase options. If your customers have lots of questions about your products, it might be helpful to provide live chat support or a comprehensive FAQ.

To prevent stock issues, use automated inventory management software to keep track of item availability before it becomes a problem. Sick of losing sales due to forgetful customers? Send out emails to remind users when they have unfinished purchases. Every problem has an answer; you just have to find it.

Review Management

The Problem: Nothing works better to nudge an on-the-fenceshopper into pulling the trigger like a good product review from a fellow customer. That’s why all the biggest ecommerce websites today include easy-to-use product rating systems that allow users to share their experiences with others.

Products reviews are a double-edged sword, however, for one obvious reason: they’re not all good reviews.

Some business owners will balk at the idea of allowing reviews at all, citing a fear of malicious review-bombing tactics. That’s a genuine concern in this day and age. But the benefits of good product ratings usually outweigh the damage potentially done by bad ones.

The Solution: The one thing you should never do when dealing with negative reviews is delete them. That just makes it look like you have something to hide, and a business with something to hide is not a business most people want to buy from.

Instead, pay attention to bad reviews to see how you can do better. Engage with reviewers, not by making excuses but by offering solutions such as discounts or refunds. Customers respond to transparency and good customer service. If you find negative reviews with factually incorrect information, use them as an opportunity to clarify the truth.

Alternatively, if you find yourself continually spammed by suspicious reviews, consider instituting a product rating system that requires user log-in and “confirmed purchases” to prove that a user’s experience with a product is indeed legitimate.

Close-up of a woman’s hands as she uses her laptop to navigate a web page

Store Navigation

The Problem: Ecommerce websites are often big, unwieldy things with lots of moving parts. Not only do you need many, many product pages, but, depending on the nature of your market, there could be dozens of product categories, subcategories, and sub-subcategories.

That’s not even accounting for all the other important pages any merchant is likely to have, such as a contact page or a shipping and returns FAQ.

Put all that together in the right way, and your customers won’t have any issue finding exactly the answers and items they’re searching for. Put it all together the wrong way, and you end up with a messy, disorganized site that will only send users running.

The Solution: Good navigability is key to ecommerce development and web design. How do ensure that when you’re juggling dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of product pages? Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and ask yourself what you would need to make your user experience as smooth and convenient as possible.

If you haven’t already integrated ecommerce search solutions, make that your first priority. Surveys find that most customers go right to a web store’s search bar to find what they’re looking for, bypassing product categories entirely.

Speaking of categories, try to limit the main navigation menu on your homepage so that it includes only the most relevant and popular pages of your site. This will help cut down on visible clutter while also forcing you to adopt a cleaner, more direct page organization system.

Duplicate Content

The Problem: As noted above, ecommerce websites often comprise a huge amount of individual pages, mainly product pages. This often results in the creation of duplicate content, not only within a single website but also across the internet.

Multiple merchants selling the same product will often use the same generic description. Likewise, similar products can appear on different pages of a website but still have almost identical item descriptions.

Why is this a problem? Because of the way that search engines like Google factor in duplicate content when determining a page’s search ranking. Simply put, they don’t like it. Duplicate content makes it hard for search engines to know which pages are best suited to satisfy user queries, which in turn makes it harder for customers to find you.

The Solution: The SEO-wrecking impact of duplicate product pages ranks among the biggest reasons ecommerce websites need supporting content. And not just any supporting content. Good supporting content. What makes a piece of content good? For product pages, it’s a mixture of conciseness, readability, and informational value.

Because so many online vendors use and reuse and re-reuse the same manufacturer-supplied product descriptions, taking the time to writing unique, keyword-optimized content for each and every product you sell is always worth the effort.

Don’t feel like you have to do them all at once; start with your most important, highest-selling items, then work your way down, doing just a few at a time. Eventually, you’ll get through them all, and when you do you’ll likely begin seeing a major change in your search engine rankings.

Product packages from multiple vendors piled up in the back of a delivery truck

Product Shipping

The Problem: When someone puts down money for something, they want it in their hands as soon as possible. In many cases, they want it yesterday. That said, they also want it cheap.

The biggest advantage that brick-and-mortar merchants still have over ecommerce outlets boils down to two main things. First, buying something in-person means instant gratification. Second, it means not having to pay extra for shipping.

The issue here is that it can be tricky catering to customers’ demands for fast, inexpensive shipping. If you want something fast, you can rarely get it for cheap. And if you want something for cheap, you can rarely get it fast. What’s an ecommerce business owner to do?

The Solution: In the war on slow and overpriced ecommerce shipping solutions, there are chiefly two fronts you need to attack.

The first is the customer front. The best way to satisfy a range of user needs is to provide a range of user choices. From variable standard shipping to flat-rate shipping, overnight shipping to international shipping, the more options you offer, the more likely your customers will find at least one that makes them happy. 

The other front you have to attack shipping from is infrastructural. This is where you have to ask yourself some vital questions. How big is your company? Are the products you sell fragile or perishable? Is it easier to pack and ship your products in-house or would you benefit more from using multiple off-site fulfillment centers? The answers to these question can help you find the best shipping solutions for your business.

Having Ecommerce Problems? LSEO Has Ecommerce Solutions

Running an online storefront is a complicated process. From web design and cybersecurity to payment processing, shipping, and fulfillment, there are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong.

At LSEO, our goal is to help make things a little less complicated. That’s why we provide a full range of ecommerce SEO services, so you can be sure that your products reach not just the widest possible audience, but the customers who need them most.

With the digital marketing professionals at LSEO by your side, you won’t have to worry about the intricacies of content optimization, site structure, or review management anymore. And with our real-time results reporting, you’ll have access to the most accurate, up-to-the-minute data about your website traffic and search rankings.

To learn more about howe can help grow your ecommerce business, contact LSEO today!