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10 common eCommerce mistakes to avoid when selling online

Emma Roberts, previous Tech Champion for eCommerce and merchandising, talks through 10 common eCommerce mistakes to avoid when selling online – and ways to fix them.

10 common mistakes found on online shops:

1. No shop button present on website homepage

If you have an online shop for your organisation, increase visibility by including the shop within the main site navigation. This will help with converting casual browsing visitors into potential customers.


Example of how the Tate shop promotes their shop. Shop button at the top of the site.

2. No incentive to go to the online shop

As digital marketers, it’s our role to find innovative and creative ways to drive traffic to the website. But when visitors land on the site, we need to review how we are incentivising traffic to the online store. 

3. Not mobile-optimised

Making your website and shop mobile-friendly is critical, as a poor customer experience can make or break your relationship with potential customers. If your visitors are viewing your site with a mobile device, it can mean they are mobile themselves, which makes for a completely different experience than if they were viewing your website on desktop. Having your site mobile-optimised can also help with Google ranking in search.

4. No Unique Selling Point

Every organisation has strong core values and a unique offer.  These same principles are the unique selling point to help your store stand out.  For example, if all profits from the online shop go back into education programming or artist development, mention this within your online shop: it will create a deeper message for your customers.

5. No Calls To Action

Calls to action above the fold of a website will help the store have a higher conversion rate. Some examples of calls to action could be:

  • Buy now for free shipping when you spend £50
  • Sign up to the mailing list to receive 15% off your first order
  • Time-sensitive sales order by X date
  • Limited editions only available until X date/until stocks last etc.

6. No curated user journeys

Around 93% of online shoppers declared that the visual appearance of an online store plays a key factor in their purchasing decisions. ( This is also true for a physical retail store: each section of the store is carefully designed to guide the customer around the store, even to checkout with small, low-cost goods for up-selling found at the till. Visitors expect a curated experience, and this is no different from when visitors land on your website and online shop.

If you are selling products related to a current exhibition, create a banner at the top of the store and drive traffic to this. The exhibition page needs to be well thought-out: push your best sellers to the top of the page, bundle products where possible and, if you are selling a large variety of goods, look to create categories to help the customer filter what they would be interested in buying.

7. Poor images

As customers are not able to physically see products in store, the images you display are key in making a sale. Best practice is to use multiple image angles and ideally lifestyle shots where possible. Check out how the Tate uses technology to display artwork for lifestyle shots in the home and how Artspace display product dimensions. Solutions like 360-degree product images and augmented reality will allow you to superimpose products within your visitors’ home, but can be pricey to implement.

8. Poor product copy

Try to avoid using long paragraphs of content: keep it concise and relevant. If your product copy can lend itself to a story related to your exhibition, provide this within the copy, but remember that context is key. Try to avoid common mistakes like linking out for further artist information: this could take a potential customer away from the shop page, creating a further step in the sales funnel that might also see customers exit your website. If you have important artist information which could help with a sale, display this within the product page so the next step would be to purchase. Also think about your organisation’s tone of voice when creating product descriptions: they don’t need to be robotic. Check out the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art online shop for an example of fun and humorous copy that also drives sales.

9. No postage or delivery information

Displaying postage and delivery information on the product pages upfront will help reduce checkout abandonment, customer frustration and poor sales conversion.

10. No customer reviews

Customer reviews can be just as important as your product copy. Customers are more likely to purchase if previous customers have had a good experience with your shop and rate the product they have purchased. There are many apps you can plug into your online shop which will add customer reviews and automatically trigger sales messages to your customers post-purchase.

The current Digital Culture Network Tech Champion for eCommerce and Merchandising is Katherine Brown.

What next?

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

Original article created in 2020. Author: Emma Roberts. Article reviewed on 24th February 2021.

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