The 7 Deadly Sins of Ecommerce Sites

When it comes to your ecommerce site, there are some deathly no-no’s to avoid. From bad site design to lackluster copy, read further to see if you’re guilty of any of these seven deadly sins.

Welcome to the ecommerce confessional, where your online store can repent its missteps.

If you find yourself sweating a bit while reviewing this list of ecommerce sins, don’t worry – we’ll never judge. Instead, fix the problem and be thankful for the chance to send your store to salvation.

Ready? Here we go:

1. Lackluster site design

Simply put, if your ecommerce site design doesn’t impress, you’ve committed a major sin. Remember that like a retail store, experience is everything when shopping online. Thus, make the investment to create a design that establishes a positive, lasting impression to those who come to your site.

2. Subpar product photos

Your product photos serve as your only chance to show customers what they’re purchasing, so make it count. If your product photos are oddly sized, are super pixelated and don’t show off every angle, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to wow customers with your offering.

3. Keyword-stuffed copy

While making your pages appealing to search engines is important, Google can never buy a product from you. Therefore, always keep shoppers at the forefront when writing for your website.

In other words, if you’re selling hot sauce and your web copy looks like this, you’re absolutely guilty of this ecommerce sin:

“Matt’s Hot Sauce meets all of your hot sauce needs, whether you like red hot sauce or green hot sauce. We also offer a wide array of organic hot sauces, and provide hundreds of hot sauce recipes to fulfill your hot sauce fix. Who doesn’t like hot sauce? Come on, everyone likes hot sauce.”

We get it. Matt sells hot sauce. Stop keyword stuffing.

No matter how cute your site, it may be up to no good

4. Outdated information


If you have text or images on your site from 2007, you’re guilty of not updating your content. For one thing, customers are turned off by outdated content, as it demonstrates a lack of attention to detail. Furthermore, search engines crave new content, so updating your pages and adding a blog to your site is a surefire way to cleanse your outdated content with something fresh.

5. Product descriptions that only describe

Just like product images are the only chance for customers to see what you’re selling, product descriptions are your best opportunity to make a sale. And just like any good salesperson, your job is to write product descriptions that highlight benefits instead of boring details. Remember this tidbit: don’t use your descriptions to sell the product, use them to sell the dream.

On that note, a less deadly (but still not cool) sin is to use manufacturer’s descriptions for your ecommerce site. Search engines hate this practice, so write original and search friendly product descriptions.

6. Not displaying payment options

Nothing frustrates customers more than getting to your checkout page, only to see that they can’t purchase with their preferred method of payment. To absolve this sin, try placing icons of the various credit cards you accept, including PayPal, within the template of your site. This will let customers know what piece of plastic they need to use from the start.

7. Asking for too much information

While the temptation to acquire customer information is strong, there’s a fine line between getting the information you need and being downright creepy. So whether it’s your email sign-up, an application on your website or even a simple contact form, keep the fields to a minimum so you won’t scare customers away.

7 sins of ecommerce

Avoid these seven deadly sins to avoid condemning your site to lower sales

That wasn’t too bad, was it? If you found yourself wincing at any of these points, go ahead and confess; you’re in a safe place.

Now get out there, fix up your site and keep singing the praises of your online business – you deserve it!

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Social Media Manager, Volusion


Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

11 Responses to “The 7 Deadly Sins of Ecommerce Sites”

  1. Aine gleeson

    Great tips and any tip I have tried has worked first time and has increased sales.

  2. Phil

    I definitely agree with your list. Especially using manufacturers product descriptions! This is considered duplicate content I’m sure. It will prevent your pages from reaching their max potential.

  3. Jason Black

    Thought this was a good list. As a current Volusion customer however, I am surprised that you can’t disable the Phone Number field in the order checkout system, going along with the “Asking for Too Much Information” point. That may be a turnoff for customers who don’t want to give this out in checkout. I did discuss it with support and they explained I could change the field name to like “Re-enter Zip Code” or something, so that’s good, but might be a feature to consider to help implement this. Anyway, overall great article, and very happy with Volusion products.

    • Matt

      Hi Jason, thanks for reading the post and providing your feedback! We’ll share this with our Product team. Happy holidays!

  4. farmacia

    Excelente post! Muchas gracias por esta valiosa información que compartes con los que emprendemos un proyecto en internet!

  5. Nanette Davis

    Regarding product images, what are the recommended guidelines to get the best resolution of the image? We’ve taken shots at high resolution (large files) and then (on our prior platform) reduced them to 640 x 480 and they just aren’t crystal clear. What are we doing wrong, or more importantly, what is a better practice? These are clothing shots — front, back, closeup. Thanks for your help.

  6. Tess

    What about lack of audience segmentation and a/b testing? Not only is real time segmentation essential for delivering the right call-to-action to the right type of shopper, but not using a basic testing function (with control group for a proper baseline measurement) is like flying an airplane through the Grand Canyon with blindfolds on. I would treat the lack of these tools as two additional sins.

  7. Josh Kotlar

    I would also add an 8th another sin to the list. Unclear or missing contact information. Some websites do not provide visitors an easy way to contact them. Some visitors need a quick answer. For that, a live chat service is recommended or a clear phone number to call with work hours displayed. Providing a noticeable link to a “Contact Us” page that includes a form, email addresses , and phone numbers is also recommended. Some websites seem to shy away from having an interaction with visitors; not realizing how it can hurt sales a lot. All sites should make it easy for visitors to contact them.

    • Matt

      Josh, you make an excellent point! It’s critical for ecommerce sites to provide contact information in the ways you’ve offered. Even if customers don’t need to contact you, having that information is a great way to instill trust and confidence in your business. Thanks for the insight! -Matt

  8. Office Furniture

    Thank your for the tips and techniques on how to improve my online store. Now I must run to make changes to my description and images.


Leave a Reply