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E-commerce success requires understanding online shopping behaviors

We spoke with Andra Rubinstein, who started her marketing career at the IDF radio station, serving as a producer and news editor, about building solid eCommerce experiences. Rubinstein has extensive experience in product marketing, specializing in e-commerce and retail-tech story-telling from leading companies and building global B2C brands. At renovai, she is responsible for creating brand awareness while driving the strategic GTM for segment growth, serving as the bridge between marketing, R&D, and product management. She defines mutual eCommerce growth strategies with the company’s customers and implements renovai’s solutions across multiple touch points.

Where do most e-commerce entrepreneurs go wrong from the beginning, and why? 

90% of eCommerce businesses fail within 120 days of their launch.

While an eCommerce business can be a lucrative opportunity, entrepreneurs often underestimate the risks from the initial stages.

These are the four most common mistakes I have encountered:

1. Insufficient preliminary research

This is the biggest mistake you can make!  Research should not be limited to understanding the competitors.

Your business strategy will fail if you don’t research market demand properly because you will only see the surface of the eCommerce industry for your product and target audience.

Defining and understanding your target audience will help create an experience that resonates with them and a brand message that entices them to buy repeatedly.

With everything you do, you have to keep your ideal customer in mind because a target audience of 100 people will generate more revenue for an eCommerce store than 1000 non-targeted audiences.

2. Selecting the wrong platform

This basic tool defines your place in the eCommerce industry and truly makes or breaks your business.

The wrong eCommerce platform will limit your online store’s experience and hurt your ability to scale.

I recommend consulting different companies to suggest which platform is perfect for the specific needs and product offerings.

The wrong choice could mean investing even more time, money, and energy into updating your platform or migrating to a different one altogether.

A custom website is your best bet if you can afford it, as you can eliminate any limitations and get the website per your requirements.

3. Insufficient promotion

Many believe that sales will start flowing once they build a website.

When you first launch your website or idea into the world, you need to drive traffic to it.

An eCommerce entrepreneur can lose a lot of money if there’s no concrete marketing strategy. If no one knows where to find you, all your investments will be in vain.

You need to develop a strong brand identity and have a marketing strategy.

If you want to build awareness and convert it into customer loyalty, then promoting your website is a crucial step.

Start driving traffic, work at finding new customers, and, if you can endure, it will happen.

4. Poor customer service

This addresses multiple touchpoints and the ability to be there where and when your customers need you, whether it’s your website, an email, or how and when you replay a social media post.

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business.

Poor customer service will drastically reduce your base and negatively impact your reputation.

Making mistakes is inevitable for entrepreneurs; you learn as you grow.

However, by understanding these common mistakes, you can fix them sooner than later and be more agile with changing needs and trends to achieve your place in the eCommerce industry.

Some e-commerce businesses require many integrations. What are some of the oversights entrepreneurs commonly make when considering integrations for their eCommerce business, and how can these mistakes be avoided?

Integrations are an unskippable topic for new online merchants and entrepreneurs.

Running an e-commerce business is complicated, not just around a basic online store. Still, entrepreneurs sometimes overlook the need for eCommerce integrations because of their costs or the fear of disrupting their business.

I admit that integrating a retailer’s system is rough; projects take way too long, costs go way over, and by the end, the integration still doesn’t work as it should.

But not all integration projects have to be like that if you choose the right platform.

To fulfill operational needs, entrepreneurs need to integrate different software and solutions to save businesses lots of costs and time.

They have to plan since the money they invest today will bring long-term benefits.

Almost all integrated systems, like CRMs, will benefit both the business and the shoppers as the operation will grow by synchronizing data, decreasing errors, and giving a more comprehensive view of all touch points.

I think the must-have integrations are:

  1. Payments
  2. Shipping
  3. Inventory management systems
  4. Customer support
  5. Analytics.

Once you have all these in place, you can continue to pile up other suitable scaled solutions, such as various marketing plugins, visualizations, etc.

One of the biggest challenges e-commerce businesses face is developing a website that is easy to navigate. What steps should be taken to ensure one’s eCommerce website is easy to navigate, and why?

Navigation is one of the most significant issues that can affect the traffic and conversion of your website.

Don’t be tempted to reinvent the wheel. I believe the planning should be based on best practices of interacting with different devices according to general human behavior patterns.

People are used to interacting with websites in a certain way, so stick to the intuitive guidelines.

The baseline is defining the type of menu based on your overall design and needs

The main types of menus are horizontal, dropdown, hamburger, floating, and sidebar.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so you must figure out which is most suitable for your website.

For example, since horizontal is the most common one, it's also intuitive to use and easy to find.

The hamburger menu won’t interfere with the general website design due to its minimalist design. It is also primarily seen on mobile navigation, which brings me to a critical comment: today, most people are browsing the internet and searching from their mobile devices instead of their computers.

So, while most people still shop from their computers rather than from their phones, there remains a significant proportion of users that you will lose if your site isn’t mobile-responsive.

The website should automatically adapt its size, format, and content to fit perfectly on any device or screen.

Whatever menu you choose, make sure it's minimalist, clear, descriptive, and to the point. This is very important for the convenience of shoppers and SEO.

Be sure to create a sitemap

This will also assist in strategic planning, covering all pages you will need to have and how and when your customers will encounter them. The sitemap hierarchy will assist in planning the funnel with maximum clarity.

A search function is a design strategy that can offer users an easy way to find content.

It can help them search for specific words or phrases, supported by auto-complete search, or go the extra mile and invest in AI-powered visual search, enabling shoppers to search using any image instead of text or keyword.

Ensure your customers will never be lost or disoriented by adding status bars or breadcrumbs and linking your logo to the homepage.

It is essential to remember that not everyone will reach your site from its homepage, so make sure that any other page they land on can connect to the rest of your site.

When setting up the buyer process, analyze and identify steps that are not critical to the customer's journey on his way to making a purchase. 

I strongly recommend hiring a professional software development company and getting a design matching your requirements.

Build a smooth experience that users can enjoy while purchasing products while incorporating the functionality of your website.

How should e-commerce businesses consider speed and performance part of their customer experience, and why? 

A customer’s first engagement with a brand will often be its website.

Other than simple navigation, it should load quickly. This will directly correlate with the number of visitors staying around and how many will convert.

Site speed has a direct impact on customer satisfaction.

From finding your website to becoming a customer and beyond, all can be influenced by the speed of your website.

57% of shoppers will leave an online store due to its site speed.

As consumers, we’re impatient.

Prominent e-commerce players recognize that speed of service is how you win customers from competitors, and consumers' expectations have kept up. Now we expect a seamless and fast experience from all vendors.

Site speed has always affected whether customers will stay on your site, trust your site, purchase from your site, and come back to your site.

But now, customers may even struggle to find your store, based on Google’s revised ranking metrics.

User-centric performance metrics will, from now on, be at the forefront of Google’s algorithm for ranking websites.

Slower pages with higher bounce rates are less likely to be featured toward the top of the search engine results pages and may even mean dropping off the first page altogether.

It is important to remember that page speed is only one key factor in how Google ranks your website, but it is essential.

You might tell yourself it's okay to be slower as long as the website looks amazing and is packed with product videos and interactive 3D models, but it doesn't have to be a trade-off. There are plenty of tips and tricks which you can implement when enhancing your website.

How important is the utilization of programmatic and automatic ads designed to retarget customers across platforms, and why?

In the past, programmatic advertising campaigns were reserved for big-budget brands and agencies with the staff to manage them. However, with the rise of self-service programmatic tools, smaller brands now have access to this technology, enabling them to grow their reach, boost brand awareness and optimize their conversion by cutting out the middle man.

One of the most effective ways to sell a product is to target people who have already shown an interest in it.

You can programmatically target these customers with ads using a pixel to capture customer data from your website. Once you fully understand your customer journey, you need to map out the touchpoints where the programmatic ads will impact the most without sacrificing ROI.

70% are more likely to convert with retargeting ads!

But only if they are done right.

How should eCommerce businesses implement email marketing into their strategy, and why?

Being the most effective digital marketing channel with the highest return on investments, email marketing strategies are a great tool to generate sales.

As your customer base expands, nurturing emails play a vital role in maintaining your brand’s awareness, promoting new products, asking for reviews, and much more.

The basics for a successful email marketing strategy should be segmenting, analyzing, and nurturing.

Remember the importance of identifying your target audience?

It will also come into play when cooking up the right content.

Tracking and analyzing open rate, bounce rate, and A/B test with content and creatives is crucial for a change in strategy and optimizing various funnel stages.

Nurturing isn’t a one-time thing. It is about creating a long-term, meaningful relationship with your customers. If you convince your customers that you deserve a place in their inbox, you’ll be able to reach them wherever they are.

To maintain long-term relationships with your customers through email marketing, it's essential to include lead nurturing examples in your strategy. This can include sending personalized content, promotions, and follow-up emails to encourage engagement and purchases. By tracking and analyzing data such as open rates and bounce rates, you can optimize your strategy and create meaningful experiences for your customers that will keep them engaged with your brand

Email marketing can be leveraged for various purposes and is a force to be reckoned with. It’s easy to measure and affordable. It should be incorporated into any marketing strategy, delivering personalized fluid journeys and constantly collecting insights for growth.

AI – the future (and present) of e-commerce personalization

AI is now making a splash in online commerce, one of the most competitive industries.

From subtle changes like reducing product return rates to more apparent ones like hyper-personalized shopper journeys, retailers across the globe are experimenting with AI for various use cases.

But not only the big players—mid-sized businesses are also leveraging AI to enhance customer experiences.

eCommerce retailers like Furnish utilize AI-driven virtual assistants to understand customer requirements better and provide personalized product recommendations based on real-time customer inputs.

With Amazon setting new standards for personalized shopping experiences online, mid-sized eCommerce businesses are investing heavily in AI to engage new customers and boost repeat sales.

Studies show that 80% of consumers prefer to purchase brands that offer personalized recommendations.

AI empowers eCommerce with a real-time view of customer preferences and helps them deliver suitable product suggestions by analyzing purchase history, clicks, and search queries.

This leads to cross-sell and upsell opportunities and unique shopping experiences that have the customers hooked forever.

Whether a large, well-known brand or a mid-sized eCommerce business, AI-driven personalized recommendations and one-to-one customer experiences help cement a competitive position in today’s overcrowded market.


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