eCommerce Issues and Challenges You Need to Overcome

Nathalie Nilsson eCommerce business analyst and author
| 11 min read
eCommerce business man working at office
eCommerce business man working at office

Running an eCommerce store is not quite the same as running a brick-and-mortar store. The end goal is the same, but your global audience has different expectations and more options. To truly flourish online you must be aware of the common eCommerce issues and challenges that await you.


Of all the problems and challenges of eCommerce, the issue of security is number one. Just as you attract customers on a global scale, so too can you attract unscrupulous people from all over the world. Viruses and hacking attempts can bring your eCommerce website down or access sensitive customer data.

In order to run a successful eCommerce business, you must also run a safe eCommerce business. Often the best solution is to have a skilled team of developers to help you set up and maintain your eCommerce store. However, not all security measures are complicated to execute. For example, there are several steps you can take to improve the security of your Magento store without the assistance of a developer. Many of these are relevant for online stores run on other eCommerce platforms as well. Simple measures such as ensuring using a unique password for your eCommerce store can go a long way.

Competitive pricing and shipping

Once a customer is in your brick-and-mortar store, the odds are that they are going to buy from you, not your competitor. The convenience of buying the product there and then can outweigh a slightly higher price tag. One of the challenges faced by eCommerce is that your competitor is just a few clicks away. What’s more, your customer will not instantly have the product in their hands upon the moment of purchase.

When you compare two similar products, the price tag frequently becomes the deciding factor. When people shop online, comparing prices is easy. Consequently, you must be aware of what your competition is charging for their products. If you find it difficult to compete with their prices, then you must either provide a superior product or better shipping.

And shipping is one of the most prominent eCommerce issues and challenges. Fast shipping is a selling point, as is free shipping. Some customers are willing to wait if the shipping is free, others rather pay extra to have their purchase delivered quickly.

It is important to provide easily understood information regarding both time estimates and cost. It is not helpful to your visitor if you tell them that their product will be delivered seven days after processing. They have no way of knowing how long processing will take. A day? A week? Longer? The clearer and more precise the information you offer your visitor is, the more likely they are to convert.

Return and refund policies

There are many reasons why a customer would like to return a product. It might have been damaged during transport, be the wrong size, different from what was expected, or it may be a case of buyer’s remorse. No matter the reason, a good return policy improves customer satisfaction. What’s more, over 60% of eCommerce customers report looking at the return policy before purchasing.

Your return and refund policy should be written in plain, easily understood English. It must also be easy to find on your website. By offering your customer free returns and their money back, you vouch for the quality of your products.

However, free returns is one of the big problems and challenges of eCommerce and can quickly become a costly affair. If you sell products such as clothing, you will see a significantly higher percentage of customers that return products compared to other niches. This is often because clothes are sized differently depending on the brand. Customers consequently order multiple sizes of the same item, try them on, and only keep the one that was a good fit.

The best solution is to offer a great return policy that your customers are unlikely to need. To reduce the likelihood that your customer needs to return your product, your eCommerce website should have:

  • High-quality photographs of your products in multiple angles and good lightning.
  • Detailed descriptions of your products.
  • If you sell clothes, a size chart to clarify the actual size of the garments.

If several customers return items due to damages, review if you need to change packaging or manufacturer.

Competing with your manufacturer

Another eCommerce business issue is competition. As it is easy to set up an eCommerce website, there will be plenty of other stores offering products similar to yours. Additionally, most online stores rely on manufacturers to produce the items they sell. Some of these manufacturers sell the same, or very similar, products as well, effectively making your manufacturer your competitor.

To prevent this, you can include a statement in the contract that restricts your manufacturer from selling directly to customers. This is, of course, not always an option. However, smaller manufacturers may find it more profitable to agree to this when compared to the effort required to run an eCommerce store of their own.

Attracting relevant traffic

The question of how to succeed in eCommerce has many answers. One of them is undeniably that it isn’t enough to attract visitors to your website – they have to be the right visitors.

Among the common eCommerce issues and challenges all online merchants face is how to reach their target audience. It may be tempting to pour a lot of money into ads that target a broad audience, hoping that if enough people see it then some will surely be interested. Unfortunately, this is likely to result in your customer acquisition cost becoming higher than your customer lifetime value. To keep your ads profitable, you need to keep track of those very important eCommerce metrics.

The most important metrics for your eCommerce banner

To improve the odds that your website and ads turn up in the search results of people who are looking to buy your products, you will need to do a little bit of research. By learning search engine optimization basics and researching relevant keywords for your products you can improve the odds that your eCommerce store is discovered by an interested customer. Remember that keywords that specifically describe your product are better than keywords with a broad definition. After all, someone who is looking to buy a car is unlikely to be interested in a toy car.

Reducing cart abandonment

Few problems and challenges of eCommerce are quite as frustrating as having a high cart abandonment rate. It suggests that there was an interest in the products you offer, but something made the would-be customer change their mind. That something occurred at the very end of the shopping process.

Unexpected and high extra costs are the leading cause of cart abandonment. In other words, fees attached to the order were withheld from the customer until the very end. These costs are often related to shipping. According to one study, 44% of visitors abandoned their cart due to high shipping costs, and 22% because the cost of shipping came too late in the checkout process.

By providing clear information about shipping costs upfront, customers can make an informed decision if the price is acceptable to them. This prevents customers from expecting one price and being unpleasantly surprised with another during checkout.

Another of the challenges faced by eCommerce is the checkout process itself. It may be too long, too complicated, too slow. Additionally, the payment methods offered can play a big part in whether or not people buy from your store. The options available must be trustworthy and easy to use.

Many also abandon the cart because they are simply not ready to buy just yet. These customers can be enticed to complete the purchase if you remind them that their cart is waiting for them via retargeting ads or, if available, email.


When it comes to how to succeed in eCommerce an omnichannel approach is quickly becoming essential. It is not enough to set up an eCommerce website and call it a day. If you want to keep up with the competition or outpace them, you have to invest in an omnichannel experience for your customers.

Your brick-and-mortar store, website, app, marketing, social media accounts – should all provide a cohesive experience. Your customer should never wonder if your promotional emails are the real deal. The information provided must also be the same across all platforms. Customers should be confident that a product’s price is the same in the app as on the website.

If you are new to the omnichannel approach, start small but start sooner rather than later. 82% use smartphones as shopping assistants while in physical stores. What’s more, customers who have researched the product in advance spend 13% more when they purchase. Consequently, odds that you will have a successful eCommerce business increase if you invest in improving the customer experience across multiple platforms.

Omnichannel Retailing Tips banner

Customer loyalty

Another of the eCommerce issues and challenges that everyone faces is acquiring loyal customers. If your online store is to be a successful eCommerce business in the long term, odds are that you are going to need a large number of repeat customers.

Satisfied customers that return to buy more from your eCommerce store are not only a sign that you are providing a good service. It also means that your average customer lifetime value increases. Additionally, it is cheaper to convince an existing customer to return and spend more money with your business, than convincing a new customer to convert.

To encourage customers to become repeat customers, consider the following:

  • Personalized discounts
  • Coupons
  • Loyalty programs
  • Helpful blogs

Don’t be shy about sending an email requesting feedback from your customer once the product has been delivered. This will provide you with valuable information and let your customer know that you want to offer the best shopping experience possible for them.

You can also improve your relationship with your customers by providing excellent customer service. Set up a helpful FAQ, multiple ways to contact you, and quick responses to queries. Also consider adding a chat option to your eCommerce store, to further speed up the response time.

The right skill

Among the common eCommerce issues and challenges that many merchants encounter is limited access to vital technological skills. Whether it is a matter of recruiting the right talent to your tech team or having to start from scratch, the right developer can be difficult to find. By outsourcing the technological aspects of your eCommerce website to the right company, you can focus on establishing and growing your business.

If you have any further questions on how to overcome eCommerce business issues or want a free advisory session, please get in touch. We are happy to help set you up for success.

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