In the world of ecommerce, you should always strive to create the clearest, most convenient path to your products. Consumers want to shop online at specific retailers, so you sell your products in those stores and include more purchasing options on your website.
But any time you send potential customers to an online retailer, there’s a lot that can go wrong along the way if you’re not paying attention to the path you’re sending them on. People can get lost or frustrated, and never complete their purchase. Or they might discover a competitor at a lower price point, and choose them over you.
A lot of brands lose sales because of simple ecommerce errors.
1. Broken links
Online retailers are constantly updating their websites. Changing categories. Altering URLs. Moving product pages. But while this is all done in an effort to optimize and improve their site, it can create ripples that cost you sales—if you aren’t paying attention.
If a retailer modifies the URL of one of your product pages and you don’t notice, then all of a sudden you’re sending your potential customers to a page that doesn’t exist. Your site tells people they can buy your product at their favorite retailer, they click the link, and they get a 404 error code.
This leaves them with a few options:
- They can give up.
- They can go back to your website and try another retailer they don’t like as much. (Unlikely.)
- They can search for your product or product category on the retailer’s site (or worse, Google), which lets competitors get in the mix.
Error codes and broken links create barriers on the purchase path and strain a consumer’s loyalty to your brand. It’s a signal that what they thought was an option isn’t actually available—even though you told them it was. It also reveals that your website is outdated, which reflects poorly on your brand. With this one mistake, in an instant, someone can go from wanting your product to actively seeking a competitor.
Hopefully, your retail partners create redirects any time they change the URL of your product pages. But if you count on that, you risk losing sales.
2. Not linking to retailers
Sometimes brand manufacturers want consumers to know their products are available in major stores without driving their website visitors to those stores. So they put up the logos of those retailers on their product pages, but don’t link to their websites.
But here’s what happens when you do that. People click and tap those logos expecting it to take them to their preferred online retailer, where you’ve just told them they can buy your product. And nothing happens. In order to actually do what you’ve just told them they can do, they have to enter that retailer’s URL or Google it, then hunt for your product page. And at every step along the way, there are opportunities for them to either lose momentum or encounter one of your competitors.
By including the logos of retailers that sell your product, you’re teasing the idea that a visitor’s preferred path to purchase is an option—and then you’re placing obstacles in that path.
It’s a terrible experience. And it costs you sales. If you’re already putting in the work to tell visitors where they can buy your products (and you should be), then there’s really no reason not to go all the way and link directly to the relevant product page on each retailer’s website.
3. Linking to a retailer’s homepage
Some brands think it’s good enough to simply link to a retailer’s website, rather than sending potential customers directly to the specific page where they can buy your product. If they’re clicking on a retailer from your product page, you’ve already won the sale, right? They’re obviously going to search the name of your product, get to the right page, and buy, right?
Maybe. But maybe not.
This is what we call “main paging,” and like many of these other ecommerce errors, it creates an opportunity for your potential customers to stumble onto one of your competitors, and it kills momentum at a crucial moment. They may get to a retailer’s site and assume that because they’re on the home page and not a product page, your product must no longer be available at that retailer. Or, as with a broken link, they may enter your product or category in the retailer’s search bar, where they’ll see your product listed alongside your competitors—which may have lower prices, better reviews, or more appealing design or features.
The more clicks and steps you put between a consumer and your product, the more opportunities there are to lose the sale.
4. Only selling directly to consumers
When you sell direct-to-consumer, you make more money, and you get new customer accounts you can use for remarketing. But while the margins are better when you close the sale on your own website, brands that only sell directly to consumers risk losing sales.
No matter how good your product is, many consumers have stronger incentives to shop with a particular retailer. Consumers aren’t just choosing between you and your competitors. They’re choosing between one shopping experience and another. By only selling direct-to-consumer, you may be forcing an Amazon Prime member, for example, to choose between your product and free two-day shipping. You might have the superior product in your category, but someone who needs a product fast is just going to choose a competitor.
Additionally, you’re asking consumers to go through the tedious process of creating a new account with you, when they could buy from a retailer with two clicks.
You’ll win over a lot more of those potential customers if you let them take their preferred path to purchase.
5. Linking to a search results page
Some retailers tell you to link to a search results page on their website instead of a product page. This can be a way around the broken links challenge, and it’s about one step better than main paging . . . but it’s still not good, and it will only cost you sales in the long run. When you drive consumers to that search results page, they aren’t always just seeing your product. They may be seeing your product next to your competitors.
Maybe a competing product is on sale. Or it has better ratings and reviews at this retailer. Or their title mentions an attractive feature your product doesn’t have. This last-minute comparison gives your competitors an excellent opportunity to siphon sales directly from your own website because these potential customers would’ve never seen their product if you hadn’t sent them to the search results page.
Optimize the path to purchase
If you want to maximize sales, you have to make the path to purchase as simple and direct as possible and eliminate opportunities for your competitors to steal your customers’ attention. That’s why our Where to Buy tool helps you streamline the shopping experience, linking directly to your top retail partners and crawling their product pages daily to ensure you only ever display accurate information and send consumers to the right place.