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Pitfalls to avoid when growing an ecommerce business’s Brendan Cameron shares insights about how ecommerce founders can keep up with ever-evolving shopper expectations.


Ecommerce founders recognize that starting an online store is a big leap but growing an ecommerce business is a whole other type of challenge. Obstacles are inevitable on the path to growth, and business owners must navigate them as they push to build a brand consumers can trust.

While the web is full of perspectives about how to establish and grow an online business, this piece will explain the obstacles founders often encounter and offer advice on how to avoid pitfalls as they seek to grow their ecommerce business.

Most mistakes amount to losing sight of the customer and underestimating the importance of the shopper experience. From the first click to first purchase to repeat purchases, customers must be at the center of a successful ecommerce business strategy. That means always asking questions such as: What do customers encounter when they click to buy? What do they find when looking up reviews for a site? Is it easy for them to find what they need?

Being curious about the customer experience is a sure-fire way to make a lasting brand impression.

As the Director of Strategy at global digital agency, I work with many ecommerce clients to help them optimize their websites and grow their businesses. Here’s five mistakes that I’ve seen ecommerce founders often make when it comes to the ecommerce growth.

1. Underestimating the power of social proof to build brand trust

No matter the channel, I believe that word of mouth is still king. Customer reviews allow online brands to build word-of-mouth trust in the digital realm. I see so many ecommerce businesses that don’t effectively leverage customer reviews as a way to aid shoppers in their purchasing journey. Using a reviews feature can help shoppers validate their purchasing decision by enhancing credibility in the product.

An example of a reviews feature that merchants using Buy with Prime can leverage is Reviews from Amazon, which displays product reviews from Amazon customers to help shoppers learn more about products. This is a way merchants using Buy with Prime can create social proof directly on their sites to build brand trust.

If there are 20 or hundreds of customer reviews saying that a product fits their needs, this social proof reassures increasingly discerning shoppers. Displaying reviews on your ecommerce site shows that you care about customer feedback, and are interested in building a trusting relationship with customer.

2. Keeping the barriers to purchase too high

How much friction is too much for shoppers to complete a purchase? Buying should be easy and instantly trustworthy on ecommerce sites. So, taking advantage of tools like Buy with Prime that offer the trust of Prime and a convenient checkout experience can help reduce friction for shoppers.

There are a variety of reasons that shoppers abandon carts. From high shipping costs to unrealistic delivery times to hidden fees, today’s shoppers desire speed and convenience. For example, if you’re charging $15 for flat-rate shipping and a competitor is offering free shipping for the same product, the likelihood of cart abandonment increases. Alternatively, when a shopper sees a familiar checkout option they trust along with transparent fees and delivery estimates, it gives them more confidence to complete the purchase on an unfamiliar site.

3. Going too big, too fast and not building for sustainable growth

There’s a popular saying that one should never try to boil the ocean. With so many options available to consumers today, the bar for building a successful ecommerce business is very high. What I often see at our agency is ecommerce founders pushing to do everything at once instead of sticking to what drives the best return. Many founders want to be an ecommerce giant overnight, but they fail to appreciate the requirements to turn their passion into reality. Let’s be clear, there’s very few (if any) overnight success stories when it comes to building an online brand.

The ecommerce giants we see today were quietly building and testing their business strategy, product mix and shopper experience long before you even heard of their brand. Incremental or iterative growth may not be as exciting, but it’s more sustainable.

4. Assuming what works for another ecommerce store will work for them

Ecommerce success is not one size fits all – there’s no universal playbook that a founder can tap into to create a thriving online brand. There are so many variables to consider such as the types of products, relevant customer segments, brand narrative, and ever-evolving ecommerce trends.

Before blindly using a new tool or website configuration just because a competitor you admire is using it, ecommerce business owners should consider questions such as: How this will benefit the customers I want to reach? What is unique about my brand or products? Does my site offer an experience that meets shoppers where they are? Let the shopper experience be your north star. Your road to growth might look different, so don’t limit yourself by only trying what others have already done.

5. Attempting to scale without having effective processes in place

Processes give a business structure and hold everything together – not to mention they help keep everyone on the same page. While not the most exciting element of building an ecommerce business, processes increase productivity and can provide a template for success. For example, if a business starts offering heavier products on their ecommerce store, new product storage and fulfillment processes will be required. Similarly, if a business expands internationally, new shipping processes to account for taxes and customs will be required.

Processes help prevent breakdowns in the customer experience. They help businesses, create rinse and repeat models to protect against customer inconvenience, and can help avoid the dreaded abandoned cart.

Growth in the business of ecommerce boils down to shopper experience. Whether it’s the user experience on your site or the way in which orders are fulfilled, investing in the tools and resources that build trust can turn shoppers into customers and customers into loyal brand advocates.

By keeping shopper experience front and center in decision-making, ecommerce business owners can build their brand and achieve sustainable growth.

Brendan Cameron is the Director of Strategy at, a full-service, global digital agency providing best-in-class web design, development, hosting, post-launch support, and digital marketing services. Cameron has experience working with both large and small brands, and managing highly-customized ecommerce solutions.

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