More Common eCommerce Failures and What Causes Them

Our development team has seen a lot of issues that arise on eCommerce sites. We help to fix them all the time! You know, those things that happen on your site that make you say “What the heck!?”  

We talked about a few common issues here, and now we are exploring some more, including products failing to show up, poor site speed, and problems with Google Shopping.

Head’s Up: This article will get pretty technical, although we avoid addressing any particular eCommerce platform. If you have some challenges with your eCommerce site, we would be happy to talk about your specific case and help you with it.

Our development team has seen a lot of issues that arise on eCommerce sites. We help to fix them all the time! You know, those things that happen on your site that make you say “What the heck!?”  

We talked about a few common issues here, and now we are exploring some more, including products failing to show up, poor site speed, and problems with Google Shopping.

Head’s Up: This article will get pretty technical, although we avoid addressing any particular eCommerce platform. If you have some challenges with your eCommerce site, we would be happy to talk about your specific case and help you with it.

 

Products Not Showing Up

Karleen has over 10 years of experience as a programmer and is an ASP.Net Developer at Brilliance.  She specializes in CMS development work with experience on Kentico, Episerver, DNN Software, and Umbraco. 

It can be frustrating when you find out products are not showing on your site when you think they should be.  You have taken the time to prepare images, attributes, and product details and then nothing shows in a product search, product category page, or even the product page itself.  

Often times we are called in to help troubleshoot where and why a product has gone “Missing In Action.” Here are a few of the problems we see: 

Missing Critical Fields – Most often this is the root of the issue for invisible products. Data can be missing in a couple of key places in the process.

  • Data is missing from fields in the ERP that is integrated into the eCommerce product database.  When fields such as price are missing in the ERP, the integration may prevent the product from being sent to the eCommerce system.  In one case we worked on, the list price was not being filled as a result of personnel turnover and thus, as a required field, the product would not show.
  • Missing fields in the eCommerce database such as category, product details, pricing, and others can make a product not findable. This commonly happens with mass data loads that bypass some of the normal checks and requirements.  It can create a situation where product data is there, but filters on the end page prevent it from being shown to end users because important or required data is missing.

Partially Loaded Data – On mass data loads, a product or variant record may mostly load but not completely.  When this happens, products or variants are orphaned and without having both a variant and product, the product does not show.

Publishing Properties – Often times you can determine why a product is not being published by simply checking publish, delete, active, default, archived, start and end publish date properties that control whether the product shows.  Be sure to check these on the variant record as well.

Out of Stock Thresholds – Sometimes there is a setting to not show a product under a certain stocking threshold. It could be that your stock threshold is set too high and the product is being filtered out.

Search Indexes - Search indexes need to be created and maintained. If your search indexes are not updated with your product data, items may not be found as you would expect them to.

Page Permissions – Sometimes your page permissions are not set to allow All Users of the public to see the page

 

Site Slowness

David McDonald is the Director of Development at Brilliance and has been leading the technical planning for eCommerce projects and supporting development for 8 years. David holds certifications from Episerver.

Because we all know that the fastest websites result in the most sales, we are often watching and analyzing websites to improve speed and performance.  The following are common issues that we find that can slow down websites:

Bad database management – If you have control over your database, it requires regular tuning. Be sure to evaluate your indexing.

Heavy use of third-party add-ons – Marketing loves these but they can really degrade the user’s experience, especially if not loaded in an efficient order.

Under-resourced host servers – Not enough memory or slow host machine CPUs.

Poor network performance – This is usually the case for customers that host themselves and do not have a data center that is up to par.

Lack of load balanced servers – Most helpful in peak load times or high transaction sites.

Lack of code caching – We have found that good caching strategies can reduce load time by 50% and more

Large images and large code files – Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to find where improvements can be achieved on your pages

Unnecessarily complex or repetitive query calls to the database – Usually only an issue with a custom eCommerce build.

Non-use of AMP pages – AMP is a strategy that seems to be under-utilized when it comes to mobile pages

Clearly, there are many things that contribute to the speed of a site. It’s something that requires regular attention.  We help our maintenance clients monitor and improve their site’s performance on an on-going basis.

 

Google Shopping Problems

Marcus is an Episerver Certified Developer with experience in CMS and worked to help Brilliance earn a BigCommerce Partner Certification.  He has a degree in Applied Math and Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has experience developing software used to analyze big data sets in the biology/healthcare sector.

Recently one of our customers found all of their products banned in Google Shopping.  Google’s reasons listed were 1) mismatch between product availability noted on the Product Detail page and availability in Google product feed, and 2) watermarks and text on product images.  The customer was able to fix the watermarks and text on the images, but still were having issues with the product availability and stock status.  

After trying a few different fixes on their own, they called Brilliance to analyze and help out.  We discovered several issues that were preventing products from showing up on Google Shopping.

Metadata – Using the structured metadata testing tool, we saw that Google couldn’t read metadata on product page while crawling the site.  We ended up fixing the metadata issue by stripping it all out and creating a new metadata provider that added json-id’s into the Product Detail page in a cleaner format.  

Inventory – We also fixed the inventory in shopping feed by reporting the item as out of stock when the inventory is less than or equal to zero.

Product/Variant Structure – Products with many variants were not being read properly.  We changed the structure of metadata so each distinct variant was explicitly associated with its own offer.  We also found that Google Shopping support recommends adding an “item_group_id” field to the feed to help group related variants together.

Once all these changes were made, we followed up with a ticket to Google Shopping to get the ban lifted and we were back in business.

 

Troubleshooting eCommerce issues are part of our specialty. Some failures, as well as their solutions, can be specific to your software platform and integrations. Schedule a free consultation and we would be happy to look at your specific situation.

Lori McDonald

President & CEO

About

Lori McDonald

Lori graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer-Electrical Engineering and leads Brilliance Business Solutions with over 20 years of computer engineering and software development experience.  She is an Episerver EMVP, a Microsoft Certified Professional and a regular contributor on Practical eCommerce. Her status as a recognized industry expert has resulted in regular speaking engagements at business conferences.

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