Whether you’re a seasoned ecommerce store owner, or in your first year of running an online store, there’s one defining moment which is sure to strike dread into your entrepreneurial heart.

A drop in sales.

It could be a sudden, jump-off-a-cliff type drop, or it could be a slow and consistent dribbling drop.

Before you begin to break out into a cold sweat, I want you to know you’re not alone.

Every business experiences highs and lows – after all, it’s the nature of business.

Don’t freak out, don’t make any rash decisions and try to avoid getting angry.

Think of your online store as a boat. When everything’s in ship-shape, life is good, the wind is filling the sails and you’re a happy sea captain.

When sales drop, there’s usually a reason for it. Consider the next five reasons for a drop in online sales as holes which appear in your ship, causing you to sink. Luckily for you, we will show you the hole and a patch to get you feeling buoyant once again.

Reason One: Your traffic has dropped

So you’ve noticed the drop in revenue, now you need to identify why.

Your first port of call should be Google Analytics.

Don’t have Google Analytics? Check out our guide on the 5 things every small ecommerce business should track with Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for understanding your website. Check out your website traffic over the past few months and identify whether there has been a drop in traffic. If there has, this can be why your online sales have dropped.

This article from Kissmetrics will help you identify traffic drops using Google Analytics.

Delve deeper into any trends of website traffic if the data is there. If your store sells seasonal items like sports gear, clothing etc. it will be pretty standard to expect a drop in traffic in low seasons.

Perhaps you’ve ceased your advertising efforts, or made dramatic changes? Take a look into your advertising campaigns and identify any changes. Lots of things can lead to a drop in traffic – Search Engine Land has an article on 10 reasons why your website traffic has dropped – check it out for more information.

If dramatic changes have been made to your advertising efforts – change them back and make small tweaks to avoid a sudden traffic drop.

Reason Two: Your stock (and price) isn’t appealing

Time flies when you’re running an online store. One moment you’re celebrating your first online sale, the next you’re all hands on deck to solve a crisis.

Sometimes things slip through the cracks, and you forget about things like pricing and stock.

Review your product lines, and do some competitor analysis. You can pinpoint any misgivings of your own range, and identify any opportunities to beat the competition. Customers love having options, and they love being able to buy everything at the one time. Consider expanding your range to include complementary products and accessories to boost your bottom line.

While you’re reviewing your competitors – check out their pricing and shipping strategy. If your store is a different kettle of fish to others, you need to review your own strategies.

Price is a huge issue for customers – make your pricing and shipping easy to understand to prevent any cart abandonments.

Fixing these issues may take time before your sails (and sales) pick up again, so don’t expect immediate results.

Reason Three: Your website isn’t user friendly

When it comes to web-design, you can’t throw caution to the wind. Pay attention to best practice web design and usability so your website isn’t preventing any sales.

Three things you can do to make your website user-friendly:

  • Implement search functionality so your customers can find what they want, immediately.
    Optimise your site for mobile use.
  • Review your website every few months and make any necessary tweaks to content and design.
  • Imagine trying to buy clothes online, and not being able to view the exact measurements and close-up images of details. The website isn’t helping convert the customer, and you will look elsewhere.

Everything on your website should seek to improve the customer’s experience. If you’ve made a change which breaks the website or makes it difficult to use, your customers will head straight to your competitor.

Reason Four: Your online checkout process is too hard

There’s nothing worse than struggling to pay for something you want.

Imagine buying a luxury yacht, and finding out the engine is from a 1980’s fishing trawler.

You’ve messed up the most crucial part of the ship.

The same analogy applies to an ecommerce store. If you have customers absolutely enthralled with your products and website, half the battle is over. If they can’t easily buy those products, however, you’re facing a wave of challenges with getting the sale.

Review your checkout process, and consider making a couple of changes to the experience. Below are just a few ideas you could implement to encourage sales:

  • Allow a guest checkout process so customers don’t have to log in. Why? Well sometimes you forget your password, and if you’re in a rush it’s all too much effort to reset it.
  • Allowing customers to buy in guest mode means they can make their impulse buy without a hassle.
  • Offer AfterPay or ZipPay for customers on a budget. Not sure which one to choose? Check out our article AfterPay vs. ZipPay – the pros and cons for an ecommerce store.
  • Make sure your checkout process is mobile friendly. Impulse buys on a mobile can generate serious dollars, don’t neglect them.
  • Implement a progress indicator. Show your customers where they’re at in the checkout process so they know how long till their item is ordered – communication is key here.

Reason Five: There is a technical problem on your website

If your website is down, or pages are broken, this is the surefire reason why your online sales have dropped. Set up alerts to email you when the site is down, and do regular checks of your 404 errors to prevent any issues arising from broken pages.

Not sure how to fix these issues?

Hit up your web developer, digital marketing company or I.T person. They will be able to point you in the right direction and patch up any problems.

Is your shipping strategy in ship-shape? Download our shipping made easy guide and improve the way your business runs its shipping and returns.