1. A generic site on a basic e-commerce platform

Most small e-commerce sites look the same.

They do the same things. They have a collection of products and offers, a cheap logo and a simple layout. That’s it.

If the business owner knows what they’re doing, they’ll have a large telephone number at the top of the page. But no attempt to engage with potential customers.

If that’s a description of your e-commerce site, then you’re going to get lost amongst your competitors.

2. You have the same products as other sites

Think about how many other sites are selling the same products as yours does.

E-commerce products

If you’re selling the same products as your competitors, why should people buy from you?

3. You have the same descriptions and photos as other sites

The easiest, and on the face of it, the cheapest place for you to get product descriptions is from the manufacturer – typically the data sheet, brochure or website.

The problem is most websites use exactly that information. And so substantial parts of their sites are duplicates of others.

You need to understand that Google penalises duplicate content, and will usually – correctly – identify the source of the information as being the manufacturer’s own site.

And most manufacturers’ photos are hardly inspiring. Take a long, cool look at the images on your site? Would you buy something that looks like that in a photo?

While getting new photos may be an extra expense, they will be unique to your site, making it stand out from the others and helping address duplication issues.

4. Setting yourself up for a price war

Do you want your business to make money?

OK. It’s a silly question.

But bear with me.

Let’s be straightforward about this. It won’t (or won’t make as much as it could) if you don’t jealously guard your profit margins.

And how do you do that? By keeping your costs low and your prices realistic.

Or, simply, Don’t get in involved in a price war!

If the only thing that marks your site out is price, that’s where you’re going.

5. Losing sight of your business

Most people set up a business because they know something about the sector. Maybe they’ve branched out on their own for the first time, or it’s been a hobby.

Their individual knowledge, experience and passion is what makes that business difference. Or, if the business is a bit bigger, the collective knowledge, experience and passion of the people involved.

Oh, and there’s the great cliche of sales – people buy from people. It’s a cliche only because there’s a great lump of truth in it.

Be visible. Put some real, unique, good quality content on your site. Make sure you and your team engage with your customers, not the manufacturers’ packaging and copy from their data sheets.

Your customers will love you for it.

And so will Google.

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Thanks to Paul Townsend for his fantastic picture of the butcher’s shop in Fishponds, Bristol.