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Why your ecommerce store isn’t selling: 10 reasons to check

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Why isn’t my ecommerce site selling? 

This is a question that often leaves entrepreneurs doubting their abilities. Although doing business can be exciting, it can be both frustrating and terrifying when your ecommerce store is getting traffic but no sales. Thankfully, this problem can often be addressed with a few simple tweaks to your website.

Read on to learn how to systematically evaluate your ecommerce store, determine the cause of low sales, and optimize your site to generate maximum revenue.

Omnisend’s email and SMS marketing automation tools can boost your ecommerce sales

Reasons why an ecommerce site isn’t selling

Unfortunately, there’s no single answer to the question “Why am I not getting sales on my website?” But here are 10 of the most important things to check for when you’re getting traffic but no sales:

1. Your visitors aren’t interested in buying

Traffic with no sales can sometimes boil down to a simple truth: your visitors aren’t interested in buying. The solution? Refine your paid advertising strategy to attract more relevant, purchase-ready visitors.

Start by clearly defining your target audience, then leverage advanced targeting options like lookalike and in-market audiences. 

Craft compelling ad copy that speaks directly to your target audience’s needs and use eye-catching visuals and CTAs to grab attention. Your campaigns can even encourage customers to create content featuring your products and then, with permission, incorporate this user generated content into your ads.

Also use retargeting strategies for abandoned carts and past customers. For example, you could create ads that remind them of the items they left behind and use dynamic product ads to show the exact items they were interested in.

Continuously test and optimize your ads through A/B testing to identify top performers and boost your store’s sales.

2. Poor SEO optimization

Effective SEO can drive traffic to your site, but poor optimization can attract the wrong audience or fail to meet user expectations. 

If your goal is to increase sales, you should focus on transactional keywords that signal buying intent, such as “buy women’s running shoes” instead of just “running shoes.” 

Optimize your product pages for specific, long-tail keywords that align with user search intent to attract more qualified leads.

To expand your SEO strategy beyond transactional keywords, develop a diverse content strategy that includes high-quality blog posts, engaging videos, and helpful guides to nurture your customers and build brand awareness. 

Site speed is also a crucial factor in SEO, and to your sales. Slow loading pages frustrate users and make them more likely to abandon your site. To improve your site speed, compress images, use browser caching, and streamline your code. 

Google favors mobile-friendly sites in search results, and users expect smooth mobile experiences, so a responsive design or dedicated mobile version that provides an optimal online shopping environment is also essential — and can also boost your sales. 

3. The first-order offer is unappealing 

Most visitors will only purchase if there is a compelling reason, which is why most online retailers incentivize new customers.

A well-crafted offer can tip the balance in your favor, turning hesitant browsers into confident buyers. Consider these strategies:

  • Offer a percentage discount on the first purchase
  • Provide free shipping above a specific order value
  • Include a freebie with the first order
  • Create bundle deals that offer better value than individual items

There are a few ways to ensure your visitors see these offers:

  • Strategic popups that trigger while visitors scroll or view specific products
  • Floating header or footer bars that display ongoing promotions or limited-time offers as users browse your site
  • Countdown timers that create a sense of urgency, encouraging quicker decision-making

Here’s an example of a popup with a countdown timer:

Popup with a countdown
Image via Omnisend

4. Low-quality images

Blurry, pixelated images are a bad way to make a first impression. They make an online store look very amateurish, almost to the point of fake and scammy. Many customers will notice that and leave immediately.

The subject of every photo is also essential in a high-converting website. Keep in mind that your photos need to replace the experience of physically inspecting products in the store. Each one should contribute to the goal of convincing your audience to purchase the item. 

To address these issues, always use high-quality, original images, both for your general website design and for your product pages. Don’t worry about slowing your store down — you can always use an optimization tool like TinyIMG to compress your images without compromising the quality.

You should also provide images that:

  • Give your visitors a good idea of the quality and usefulness of your products 
  • Show the products in use 
  • Provide close-ups of features and details you want to highlight 

Here’s a good example from dryrobe, featuring the item on its own as well as being worn by different people. The page also offers front and back views and even shows people using the product in real-life situations:

dryrobe product image
Image via dryrobe

5. Poor website design

Regardless of what you’re selling on your ecommerce website, poor user experience and bad graphic design can result in no sales.

Does your online store look attractive and professional? Is it easy to use? If you randomly came across this website, would you buy from it?

These are important questions you need to ask yourself as you objectively evaluate your ecommerce store. 

To tackle the problem of bad web design, use a highly-rated online store theme from your ecommerce platform. This will enable you to have a sales-optimized ecommerce store without having to figure out how to design one from scratch. You can always customize the theme with your own images and minor tweaks to the layout. 

In the following image, Chubbies shows what good website design can look like with straightforward navigation, seasonal messaging, and a header bar with a clear offer:

website design example from Chubbies
Image via Chubbies

6. Zero trust factors

About 17% of shoppers leave products in their carts because they don’t think the store is trustworthy. That’s why successful websites often have trust badges, which help address concerns about legitimacy and security.

trust badges

Here’s a list of essential trust badges your online store should have:

  • Secure checkout badge: Guarantees that you have measures in place to protect shoppers’ identity and financial information
  • Money-back guarantee badge: Eliminates the perceived risks of shopping online, such as not being able to try a product before paying for it
  • Accepted payment methods: The logos of major financial companies like Visa and Mastercard are so recognizable that they instantly boost the perceived trustworthiness of your store
  • Free returns and shipping: Cost-free shipping and returns are always an advantage for shoppers, so use a badge to quickly let them know if this is something you offer

Shopify and Wix have apps that make it easy to add trust badges to your website, and you can add them to WooCommerce and WordPress with plugins.

7. Hard-to-reach customer service

A business that’s getting traffic but no sales might mean that shoppers need more assistance before they decide to buy. However, most small businesses only offer email support, where average response times can be over 24 hours.

Phone support can provide immediate answers. However, call queues can take long and many customers prefer other methods to contact customer service.

Addressing shoppers’ concerns right away can dramatically increase their likelihood of buying. To achieve this, consider adding a live chat function to your website. This simple addition can decrease your shoppers’ waiting time to just 10 seconds on average

Here’s an example of how live chat can be used on an ecommerce store:

customer support chat

8. Generic product descriptions

Poorly written product descriptions often lead to low sales. Take a look at the content on your store and check for these common product description mistakes:

  • Grammar, spelling, and syntax errors
  • Lack of clear benefits for customers
  • Unemotional and unrelatable
  • Absence of appealing, sensory words

To address these issues, write product descriptions that actually describe the products you’re selling. Highlight benefits and special features, and use storytelling techniques to evoke emotions. Most importantly, make sure you use sensory words to convey how the products feel, look, smell, or sound.

A good example comes from dog apparel retailer Spark Paws. This product description is short but ticks all the boxes. It contains no errors, and it describes the benefits to buyers (comfy, stylish details, machine washable).

The use of language also appeals to pet-lovers’ emotions (the product comfortably accompanies your dog day and night) and contains sensory words (ultra-soft fabric). 

It then finishes with a sentence aimed at reducing buyers’ hesitation, by offering a free exchange if the wrong size was purchased:

Spark Paws product description
Image via Spark Paws

Get more tips on writing product descriptions that convert:

How to write engaging product descriptions

9. Poorly optimized checkout

Any actual or perceived difficulty can keep a shopper from buying. It’s possible that your ecommerce site is not selling because your checkout process isn’t optimized for sales. Here’s a list of potential problems you need to address:

  • Lack of trust factors: A professional-looking design, well-written content, and the presence of payment security badges help shoppers trust your ecommerce store
  • Inconsistent design: If your checkout pages look different from the rest of your website, shoppers feel insecure about providing personal and financial information
  • No guest checkout: Having to create an account before buying anything is one of the top reasons for cart abandonment. Avoid it by letting shoppers complete their purchases without having to register

One of the best ways to ensure an optimal checkout process is to have several people test and evaluate it for you. Give them the means to check out as a normal first-time customer would. Then, ask them to describe their experience.

Is it easy to buy? Does the website look trustworthy? Did you experience any errors or crashes? Did you have any concerns while going through the process? 

Consider their comments and determine how you can improve your checkout process to maximize sales.

Here’s an example of a well-designed checkout from Spark Paws. It lets the shopper use express checkout to skip entering their payment details, shows card logos for trust, and perfectly matches their site’s design:

Spark paws checkout page
Image via Spark Paws

Island Olive Oil faced a common ecommerce challenge: customers abandoning their carts at checkout. But thanks to a strategic cart recovery email campaign, they achieved an impressive 41% conversion rate.

👉 Read the case study

10. Unclear or unfair return policies

Return policies are essential to getting shoppers to buy. Recent research shows that:

  • 92% of shoppers will buy again if returns are easy
  • 79% want free shipping for returns
  • 67% study return policies before checking out

For ecommerce stores, returns are inevitable. Make sure your policies give your shoppers confidence that they’re buying from you risk-free. Most importantly, check your competitors’ return policies and make sure yours is better.

Here’s an excellent return policy from shoe retailer VIVAIA. The policies are fair and beneficial to the user, presented in plain language, and address important concerns about returns and exchanges:

VIVAIA return policy
Image via VIVAIA

Start converting your traffic right away

Once you’ve optimized your website, your business will be primed for conversions. The next step is to generate as much targeted traffic as possible and nurture your customers to ensure long-term profitability and sustainable growth.

Because 73% of consumers prefer email for marketing communications, running an email marketing campaign is essential to reversing low sales. To get a good start with email marketing, check out these resources:

Don’t have an email marketing tool yet? Get a free Omnisend account.

Omnisend lets you send customers personalized emails, SMS, and push notifications to increase sales with tailored messaging and a unique online shopping experience.

Summary: Why is my ecommerce site not selling?

If your website is getting traffic but no sales, it isn’t optimized for conversions. Check on these seven critical factors and follow the practical steps to fix them. Soon enough, your concern will shift from “Why is my online store not selling?” to “How do I keep up with all these sales?” — definitely a much better problem to have.

Omnisend’s marketing automation tools can help boost your conversion rates
Bernard Meyer
Article by
Bernard Meyer

Bernard is the Sr. Director of Communications & Creative at Omnisend, with a passion for good research, helping ecommerce businesses with their marketing automation needs, and beating absolutely everyone in Mario Kart 64.