The idea of starting an e-commerce venture is fun! eCommerce offers fantastic revenue opportunities, the ability to be open 24/7 and requiring more economical operation cost when compared to bricks and mortar retailing.
Also, it’s never been easier to start an eCommerce business. You can literally jump on Shopify and set up shop in under 15 minutes. But the industry is not all rainbows and unicorns. There are a lot of people playing the eCommerce game without first learning the rules.
If you don’t want to suffer the same fate, it’s important that you avoid the common mistakes eCommerce startups make. While it’s true that you can always learn from your mistakes, still, it’s better not to make them in the first place and be well on your way to online business success.
Here are the deadly 7 mistakes to steer clear of when starting your online business.
Anyone who has ever been in charge of a successful startup operation knows that were it not for careful, methodical, strategic planning — and hard work — success would not have followed.
Most businesses fail, sadly, but this is the truth. Many businesses fail because of the lack of fundamental shortcomings in their short-term and long-term planning. In order to avoid falling into the same pitfall, realistic plan should include where your business will be in the next few months to the next few years.
When you’re done, your business plan will give you a roadmap to follow. Use your business plan as a tool to help you outline action items, next steps, and future activities, you are creating a living, breathing document that not only outlines where you are and where you want to be but also gives you the directions you need to get there.
It’s common to think that, just because you have a product, it’s automatically unique and you can immediately make profit out of it. While your idealism is admirable, that’s not how things always work.
You need to do a thorough research about a product first.
Find out if there’s a market, or at least a potential demand for it. Because a product may seem right to you. But if you’re selling a product no one wants, then you’re positioning yourself in a tough situation from the beginning.
To succeed as an eCommerce entrepreneur, you must develop the ability to select and offer the right products to your customers in a competitive digital market. The more you think about a product or service before you bring it to market, the better your decisions will be. More than any other factor, your ability to make this choice will determine your success or failure.
If you haven’t researched your customers carefully, you won’t know what they truly want, or why they came to your website or store. Research is needed to select the right approach to generate sales. In addition, constant ongoing analyzation and tweaking is required to ensure you are making the most of your budget.
By having the right insightful understanding about your product and what problem it solves, you can tailor your marketing contents to your audience in a way that is relevant to them. To do this you should create buyer personas of your ideal customers.
Not having a clear idea about who your target audience is extremely dangerous for your eCommerce startup. You may have created polished campaigns, along with comprehensive social media management. However, your business will deeply suffer if you aren’t targeting the right audience.
Be unique. Something must make your company different. It is not enough to have a great product. In a digital world saturated by millions of businesses, it is not wise to try and sell everything. If you can’t think of a reason why someone should buy from you instead of a competitor, than your visitors won’t be able to either.
Do you know that on average a potential customer will only spend 0.2 milliseconds on your site before deciding that they will stay or leave? So how to keep them you ask? The most important tool to keep them is indeed your value proposition, without it you will surely get burned among the competition.
Your unique value or selling proposition is the real or perceived benefit of your product that differentiates it from your competitors’. Without it your competitors are only a ‘Google’ away.
Why would a shopper buy from your online store? Do you offer unique products? Are your prices lower than other competitors? Is your store makes customers feel more at ease to shop in? Maybe it’s that you have free returns, no questions asked. Maybe it’s that you give discounts like no other brand.
This is crucial to grow a sustainable and profitable business, so spend a lot of time thinking about it and continually ask yourself what you could do to differentiate your online store, products, and service.
You might have an industry leading eCommerce store, backed by outstanding customer service, but what is the point of every effort you’ve put in if no one have any idea about your brand? Even after having the right product and the right audience, your eCommerce store could still fail if you don’t have a proper marketing plan. According to CoSchedule, marketers who document their strategy are 538% more likely to report success than those who don’t.
Without a developed strategy, your product will never make it through without words are being spread out. So map it out and take time to execute the plan. Creating an inbound marketing funnel will deliver leads from social media, Google results and referral sources. Once you build up sales, and testimonials and reviews will begin flowing in and that will have positive impact for you.
And remember, if it does not work the first time, tweak it and continue to grow your ROI. Since most online sales start with a search, have a search engine optimization and paid search marketing strategy (and budget).
Your website is probably one of the biggest factors in whether or not you’ll be successful in eCommerce industry.
With an eCommerce website, you need to make it very clear what you want the customer to do on your site. The most successful eCommerce sites tell customers exactly what to do. Never leave customers to guess what the next step is. It is about guiding the user through your site, step by step, and ensuring they perform the actions you want them to.
Never make your customers feel like your website is sketchy, that you’ll steal their credit card number and never get what they’ve purchased. So the goal is to be to build a big, strong, trusting brand and look for your online business.
Also, the time it takes for a page to load can impact the buying decision of your user, big time.
The experts have proven that the main page should load within two seconds. Yes, this is the ideal page load time. Anything more than that will cause problems for the user to stick to your website.
Last but not least, offer a very short checkout process to avoid frustration. Don’t require registration for checkout. Let customers go through the process as guest checkout and choose the option to register and save their details at the end, in case they want to come back.
Too many startups have simply spent money before they earned it. You need to recognize that you have to crawl before you can walk and then take small, baby steps. Do the math from day one, and never stop doing it until you’ve earned enough to have accountants and financial analysts doing it for you. And you should still double-check what they do regularly.
Analytics tools are the most powerful tools for your business. They give you data about your audience – their interests, demographics, and behavior on your store. You can use this data to your advantage for email campaigns, A/B testing, and for implementing dynamic content for your website.
The easiest way to implement analytics is by using Google Analytics to understand your customers and track their behavior in your store. You can also select analytics plugins depending on the e-commerce platform that you are working with.
eCommerce is a great way of starting a business with minimal overheads, however don’t make the fatal mistake of believing it’s as simple as putting up a polished website as fast as possible and putting products up without consideration. It’s notoriously hard to start a business, as the majority fail in their first few years.
Mistakes are part of growing a business. But you can make it work for you if you can avoid the top 7 mistakes that we mentioned above. If you’re making any of these mistakes, it’s better you fix them fast so that you can focus on delivering the best products and growing your store without falling into the same pitfalls so many sites make.
Be fearless but not foolish.