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Admit it: there are practices that so many ecommerce experts use that grind your gears. Whether it’s the over-usage of pop-ups, or the endless talk on paid ad channels dying, we’re here to tell you that you’re not alone.
Whatever your pet peeves are, there’s someone else in the world rolling their eyes with you. That’s why we thought it’d be fun to expose some of the biggest pet peeves in the industry, so we created this fun list of “gotcha moments” and “ick trends,” based on real thoughts from experts.
Plus, some of these examples don’t just impact you, they also impact your customers and how they experience your brand.
Before we dive in, remember that despite the tips in this article, you can’t copy and paste anyone’s strategy—you need to create a strategy that’s customized to your brand. That means understanding your unique selling angles and company values.
So, at the end of the day, you do you.
11 biggest pet peeves in the ecommerce industry (and how to overcome them)
Based on the responses from each expert, we categorized our list of pet peeves into four main categories: brand building, marketing and growth, media coverage, and ecommerce tech.
How many of these do you agree with?
First up, we’re going to highlight the biggest pet peeves our experts shared about building a brand.
Problem: Copycat brands
Whether you’re an industry expert or a consumer, you have to agree: everyone seems to use the same san serif fonts, landing page structure, similar color pallets, and content.
Solution: Innovate with balance
Some of the most successful brands have bold aesthetics and eye-catching campaigns. Take a look at Liquid Death, for example. This water brand is always doing something different with its social media campaigns. Not to mention, the branding itself is truly like no other ecommerce brand out there.
Innovation is good and can surely help you stand out, but remember this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow basic best practices (like a high-converting page structure). You still need these foundations, but you can avoid making your brand look and feel the same as everything else that’s already out there.
Problem: Faceless brands
How many brands have you come across where you can’t find any information about who created the brand, why they created it, or what the purpose of the brand is? You’re looking for a way to connect with the brand, but you can’t find any information beyond the products.
This, according to Martha Krueger (Founder of GiftenMarket), is a faceless brand—and it’s one of her pet peeves.
There’s “no ‘About Us’ page or actual photos or names of real people. It’s just overly manicured product shots. The biggest offenders are those with extra vague ‘About Us’ pages stuffed with buzzwords. It feels shady,” she said.
Solution: Show who’s behind the brand
There are a ton of ways you can connect with customers, both on-site and off your website. At the very least, create an “About Us” page, which is truly the bare minimum of what you can do to help customers connect with the brand.
Other founders are active on social media channels like TikTok and YouTube, where they talk about their products, show how to use them, and share the reality of being an entrepreneur.
BK Beauty founder Lisa J does this on TikTok and YouTube, where she uses her personal channel to sometimes show behind-the-scenes at BK.
Problem: Lack of innovative products
It’s so easy for anyone to start a brand these days. Many companies use the same manufacturers, so there are a lot of the same products in the market today with different names and packages.
Here’s a great example on Amazon with the Neck Cloud pillow:
It’s the same product, slightly modified, and sold under a different name and price. This lack of product innovation is a pet peeve of Ande Sozzi’s (Co-Founder of L’AMARUE).
Solution: Create something that matters
L’AMARUE offers affordable and reliable skincare. Ande and her mother’s mission is to create effective, easy-to-use products for the full spectrum of skincare, from daily care and anti-aging to autoimmune and psoriasis.
Aside from a solid mission to direct the brand, every product includes a key ingredient: L’AMARUE’s Heart to Heart Complex®, which is its patent-pending natural ingredient.
Creating something new and effective is something that inspired Ande, which she says is the solution for founders who want to create innovative and unique products.
“I think it just comes down to actually caring about and loving the product(s) you make, and understanding why they matter to people. If you have that, you have authenticity. And a shortcut to that is if you’ve been in your customer’s shoes!” she said.
Revenue, attribution, and other analytics
Ahhh, reporting—you either love it or you hate it. No matter which side of the equation you sit on, analyzing data and making smart decisions based on it isn’t easy. Let’s look at the biggest pet peeves here.
Problem: Conflating revenue with contribution margin
A common mistake marketers make is “equating revenue, return on ad spend, and advertising cost of sales with profit and profitability in various content types (ranging from tweets to pitch decks),” said Sam Tomlinson, Executive VP of Warschawski.
Sam says this affects a number of elements, including mischaracterizing the impact of various efforts, focusing campaigns on the wrong products, setting unrealistic expectations, and having unproductive conversations.
Solution: Focus on metrics that matter
Instead of only looking at revenue, ROAS, and ACoS, Sam suggests prioritizing the following metrics:
- Contribution Margin: what you're netting after COGS and all variable costs (i.e. processing, shipping, and advertising).
- Net Present LTV and CAC: This tells you the relationship between the present value of your acquired customers and the cost.
- Bucket Ratio (New + Retained + Reactivated Customers) / (Lost): This tells you if you're growing your customer base.
- MER: This provides solid directional data on the contribution of marketing to the organization.
- Repurchase Rate: This tells you how much product stickiness and retention you have.
Marketing and growth
When we spoke with experts, four marketing and growth pet peeves came up that we agree with. Not surprisingly, the hustle culture around ecommerce is first on our list.
Problem: The obsession for hypergrowth at all costs
If you’re active on Twitter or LinkedIn, you’re likely to be bitten by the hustle culture bug. People are posting every day about how many hours they work and how successful they are because of their hard-core work ethic.
Paul Owusu, Founder of premium cocktail brand Phreshly, says this is a pet peeve of his. “There’s this hunger for hyper growth. While that’s important, it often comes with the cost of neglecting your mental health. DTC Twitter is obsessed with wanting to be seen, which worries me a lot.”
Solution: Growth at your own pace
There are a lot of brilliant people sharing growth tips on social media. In just a few clicks, you can learn how to improve your landing pages, take better product photos, and rank for thousands of keywords.
Remember, not all advice is applicable to you—and that includes the pressure to have to hustle as hard as you can. Some people enjoy the grind, but that doesn’t mean you have to participate.
Rather than prioritizing growth, prioritize your mental health.
Problem: Annoying pop-ups
Have you ever visited a website, and within five seconds your screen is attacked by a pop-up?
If you’re really into the brand, you might just exit out of the one or two pop-ups and continue browsing. But, chances are you’re going to bounce off the page because the noise of the pop-ups is too frustrating.
Yep, that’s right, bad pop-ups impact SEO. Google announced this a few years ago, saying it would potentially penalize sites with pop-ups if they make it difficult for users to access the content.
“There’s also a huge UX component to this as well, think ‘if I went into Nordstrom and someone made me sign up with my email and made it difficult to get around them, would I still go in?’” said Rhian.
Solution: Timing is everything
You don’t want a pop-up to appear just as a customer is starting to get interested in a product. Rhian recommends looking at Google Analytics data to see the average time users spend on pages and timing the pop-up around that.
If you’re going to use a pop-up, exit intents are usually the least obtrusive option. Another good option is a slide-out or sticky bar since these don’t interrupt users while they’re browsing.
Problem: Over-emphasis on paid advertising
Dan Gray, CEO at vendry.io, said his pet peeve is the “over-emphasis on media buying and paid advertising as the main lever for growth versus focusing on product innovation, pricing strategy, user experience, and customer support.”
Solution: Foundations first
As Dan mentioned, foundations need to be prioritized first. Everything in Dan’s list—product innovation, pricing, UX, and support—are all aspects you want to get right before you start dumping money into paid ads and funneling customers to your website who don’t convert.
Problem: Too frequent and spammy referral emails
The last thing you want to do is annoy your customers. Unfortunately, a lot of referral software don’t let merchants customize the frequency of referral emails. The lack of referral email customization is a pet peeve for Rachel Leung, product designer at ReferralCandy.
“It's a huge turn-off for customers when you're constantly spamming their inboxes with emails telling them to refer more people to your store. There's a reason why the right emails at the right time work much better than a constant barrage of emails. Even if they were happy customers after buying your products, they'd be annoyed after receiving so many emails,” she said.
Solution: Be cautious of your email frequency
Additionally, use software that allows you to edit the frequency of your referral reminders.
This is something you can do with ReferralCandy, Rachel points out: “Just go to “All Campaigns,” “Select your campaign,” then go to “Emails Settings,” and edit your “Reminder Email” settings. You can try ReferralCandy for free for 30 days here.
While most pet peeves were related to marketing, growth, and branding, there is one pet peeve about DTC media that came up. And it’s a problem that couldn’t be more true.
Problem: Lack of diverse voices in ecommerce media
When it comes to DTC, you tend to see the same voices speaking at events and getting featured over and over again.
Not even that, but the industry is seriously lacking in diversity. It’s not often you go to a tech event with an even number of panelists who are women or see BIPOC founders in mainstream media.
“The space is also guarded by the same good ol’ boys club, not wanting others in,” said Paul Owusu of Preshly. So what’s the solution?
Solution: Involve more diverse voices
According to Paul, visibility is equity. “The pillar of equity and supplying opportunities to support BIPOC founders is to highlight their brands and take a step forward and feature current needs and impact. I’d love to see folks that look like me on DTC podcasts and at trade shows.”
He also shared how there are many immigrant founders who are building unique brands: Omsom, Sanzo, Vervet, and Spinoney are just a few Paul mentioned.
“Once in a while, I’d like to see new faces and voices.”
There are many challenges with building your tech stack as an ecommerce brand. Everyone has their own opinions about the latest and greatest technology, and you never know who’s telling the truth about their experience. There are two pet peeves that experts shared with us.
Problem: Forced tech demos
Why? Because SaaS companies force merchants into them because they don’t offer another way to learn about the product, or they block you from being able to install the app without doing a demo first.
And this wasn’t the only pet peeve around demos that came up. Sean Frank, CEO of Ridge, said tech companies that pay you to listen to their SaaS pitch are a pet peeve of his. (I.e. being offered free airpods to sit in a 30-minute lunch and learn).
Solution: Offer various ways to learn about your product
When we asked Ron what he would prefer, he said, “10-minute Looms.”
Essentially, Instead of making the demo the only way for a merchant to learn about a product, SaaS companies need to offer different options. Loom videos are helpful because merchants can watch them on their own time.
Problem: Undisclosed sponsored content
It’s not a good feeling to be duped by a brand or an influencer. Sadly, this happens more often than you think. Companies will pay micro-influencers on any platform to talk about their products, and while the law says influencers have to disclose these relationships, many of them aren’t.
This is a pet peeve for David Herrmann, Product Manager at Crossbeam.
Solution: Educate influencers and companies about the laws
Despite a lot of influencers hiding their disclosures, the rules from the FTC are pretty clear. Material connections (which could be a personal, family, employment, or financial relationship) with a company must be disclosed in a post.
Simple enough, just be honest with your followers. Trust is important—for businesses and influencers.
Resources you can trust
If you want to stay up-to-date on ecommerce trends and best practices, we put together a list of resources you can trust.
Give these newsletters and experts a follow: