As an eCommerce agency we get bombarded with frustrated retailers and B2B companies who simply cannot sell enough online. With over four million eCommerce websites worldwide according to Builtwith, there are millions of eCommerce sites that simply do not get enough traffic or online sales to be successful. Some know what the problems are, but may need help implementing a solution. Some however, don’t even realize how bad or what their true problems really are. Here I am going to cover what the most typical problems companies face when trying to sell more volume online.

Business to Consumer or Retail

Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Wayfair, and other big online retailers are eating your lunch. Simply put, this is the main reason you are not selling much online. Chances are your offering is not unique enough because almost anything can be found online, and most likely at a cheaper price and more convenient service than what you have to offer. So the question is, how do you beat the big guys? There are many ways and thousands of retailers who do over a million in online sales, so it can be done successfully, depending on what your personal threshold for being considered successful selling online is.

Where you are likely failing:

  • Branding
  • Design
  • Price
  • Product Offerings
  • Uniqueness / Selling Proposition
  • Functionality & Operations
  • Site Speed
  • Marketing
  • Too slow to update your site

Branding: The number one way I see online retailers fail is that they do not understand the importance of online branding and how to take their physical brand or in-store brand online. You are not going to win the product volume game of offering millions of products at rock bottom prices like Amazon (in most cases). Therefore you need to build a unique brand and online community to sell successfully through your website.

Many companies fail here because building an online brand is much different. I mean even the logo and variations of a logo have to be much more malleable to work in many different online formats and sizes. The first thing to do here is to invest in a web style guide in which you have your logo, fonts, colors, and other standardized web styles all figured out. This article by Design Modo goes into good detail about how to do this.

Design: Next you need to execute this brand online with a quality design that intrigues the user. Chances are users do not trust your website brand or design. A website with a high quality design is critical for your site to succeed in the B2C space. Yes a Themeforest theme can get you started and up and running for cheap, but it will most likely not offer the uniqueness you need to thrive online. If you have the budget, it is worth investing in a high quality design agency to create a unique eCommerce experience for your online shoppers.

Price: This is a simple one. Of course it is tough to compete with high volume sites like Amazon and Walmart on price. You could try getting creative with free shipping and flash sales to get the price down with volume purchases covering your discounts.

Uniqueness: Personalization is another great way to boost sales with solutions like Nosto and other ways of targeting your specific users. Sometimes even bundling or configuring your products in a way that is unique, even if they are technically the same products other sites have, is a way to increase sales. Simply listing simple products is not going to be enough unless you are the manufacturing. You will have to find a unique shipping option, service offering, customization offering, or some other factor that makes your product offering unique such as The Grommet selling maker products with video.

Functionality: There is a lot of functionality that can help you sell more products, whether it be more shipping options, same-day delivery, rewards points, reviews, social login or many other features that will improve your site.

Site Speed: A slow site will kill you, getting your site speed down to 3 seconds or less is ideal.

Marketing: Marketing is clearly a major killer for most B2C eCommerce sites that simply cannot get enough traffic, a good conversion rate, or average order value. You really need an omni channel approach targeting mobile, desktop, all traffic channels and many different other strategies. Lack of social media presence is a big reason B2C eCommerce sites fail as it should be a major traffic channel.

Too Slow to Update Your Site: This is a major reason most sites don’t succeed. We aren’t talking about a rotisserie oven here, you can’t just “Set it and Forget It”. You should really be updating your site on a daily, weekly or at least monthly basis if you want to succeed in B2C eCommerce.

There are definitely many other reasons your site might not be doing well, but here are some common ones, and often its a combination of all of these reasons and more.

Business to Business

B2B eCommerce is a much more open ball game in which even small players can become wildly successful fairly quickly. No one company like Amazon or Walmart dominates the industry. Most B2B eCommerce is done by manufacturers, therefore there is a huge window for other manufacturers and distributors to take a larger piece of the B2B eCommerce pie.

A good example is the lower end of the B2B eCommerce top 300 US sites. They sell only about 1 to 2 million online, whereas even the bottom 500 B2C eCommerce sites in the US sells over 20 million according to Internet Retailer. Therefore there is a huge amount of room for B2B companies to move up that chain, as only some of the top companies have really figured it out, and even they are still learning.

Where you are likely failing:

  • B2B Features
  • Integrations
  • Functionality
  • Product Data
  • Site Speed
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Too slow to update your site

B2B Features: Business to business eCommerce often requires much different functionality such as unique customer pricing, customer groups, approval workflows, special payment terms and invoicing, quoting, and many other features. Using an eCommerce platform or site that cannot accommodate for that will not get the job done.

Integrations: Manually updating all of your systems is impossible to scale efficiently, or profitably in today’s modern world. You have to connect to all your back office systems like your ERP, CRM, and much more to succeed.

Functionality: This ties directly into B2B features but its not always about that, sometimes just more user friendly features that even a B2C site would have can go along way towards improving conversion rate.

Product Data: This is critical to selling more online. Having good product data with filterable attributes so your customers can sort and find the exact products they want is critical to succeeding in B2B eCommerce. Consider using a PIM like Salsify and connect it to your eCommerce website.

Site Speed: B2B sites are often bigger, with larger catalogs and integrations, therefore site speed is critical because that much data can really bog down your site.

Marketing: Just as any company must do to succeed, marketing is still key to winning new customers and even converting offline customers to online. Social media may not be as effective here but SEO and email marketing might be better areas to focus on.

Design: Your design should be both user friendly from a B2C stand point but also offer the B2B touch points a customer is looking for like easily reordering products and shipping notifications. The design must be very well thought out in regards to guiding the customer to finding their products fast, buying, and keeping up to date with delivery and fulfillment.

Too Slow to Update Your Site: Pretty much the same answer here for B2B as B2C. Once again, you should really be updating your site on a daily, weekly or at least monthly basis if you want to succeed in B2C eCommerce.


The fact of the matter is that it is never just one thing that is holding you back from selling more online but often a combination of many problems or areas in need of improvement. However determining which areas are the biggest problems or lowest hanging fruit is a great way to start tackling the issues more efficiently. You don’t need to do it all at once, but if you want to be successful online, you need to start somewhere. For help and consulting on eCommerce issues please contact me at Trellis (781)-202-4618.

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