Building an online business can be difficult, especially if it’s your first time. In this post, we will look at five of the most common mistakes new ecommerce business owners make and how you can avoid them.
1. Underestimating the work involved.
Entrepreneurs enter into the ecommerce field with the intention of easy or fast money, and the idea that all you will have to do is take orders and ship product. While ecommerce businesses do live in the etheric world of cyber space, they still require a significant amount of attention, learning and physical effort to execute, grow and maintain.
Consider outsourcing in areas of the business that you don’t have the in-house resources to manage effectively. However, being able to have as much control and visibility as possible in-house is often the most cost-effective solution, especially in the early stages. Remember that you are setting up a business just like any other, and this one just happens to be online. Your chances of success are going to be much greater if you, or a key member of your team, are intimately involved.
2. No business plan.
Writing a business plan might seem like a lot of work, but it can save you a lot of time and money in the long-run by better preparing you for potential challenges and opportunities that you’ll face as an entrepreneur. Asking yourself the following questions is a good place to start.
- What is your value proposition?
- Who is your target customer?
- What are your customers needs and how will you meet the needs?
- How will you reach your customers?
- Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- Can you capitalize on your competitors weaknesses?
- Are you going to be competitive based on price or position?
- How will you highlight your competitive advantage?
- What platform will you use?
Addressing these key questions can help form the foundation and initial strategy for any new business venture.
3. No marketing strategy.
Unfortunately the “build it and they will come” idea doesn’t apply to ecommerce. Getting an ecommerce website live is only the beginning. You need to have a marketing strategy focused on driving visitors to your website and generating ongoing traffic.
Here are a few broad strokes to consider as you venture into online marketing:
- Setting up an ecommerce analytics/tracking system, such as Google Analytics
- Knowing the difference between SEO and PPC
- Understanding the importance of social media
- Researching affiliate marketing and selling through established, third-party platforms such as eBay
While overwhelming at first, online marketing strategies are well-documented and accessible online — take advantage of others’ research and learn what works, (and doesn’t work) for your business and industry. There is a lot to online marketing and it is important that you have a good understanding of it all; however there are areas that you will want to outsource to experienced professionals, especially in the areas of SEO and PPC.
4. Choosing the wrong ecommerce platform.
When it comes to successfully running your online business the ecommerce software that your website is built on can either be a supportive ally or a tormenting obstacle. If you make the wrong choice it can make the whole experience incredibly frustrating.
Generally, a wrong choice would be an ecommerce platform that is unsuitable for your needs, outdated, underdeveloped, unnecessarily customized, or not professionally supported.
You need to establish what functionality you will require, both for the visitor and for the back-end management area, and what resources you will have on-hand to support the ongoing management of the website. This will help you to determine what solution is right for you.
There are two primary solutions you will likely be choosing between:
- A hosted ecommerce solution like Shopify.com or Esty.com
- Or a custom installation of a popular ecommerce software program like GoDaddy, WooCommerce or Cs-cart
Popularity and reputability usually indicate that a platform has been well-tested and is regularly updated. Also, be aware of your own technical ability when considering the scope of support that is available for the platform. It is often worth paying a higher ongoing fee to have prompt support when you need it. Also, ensure that your website will be able to provide an optimal user experience from the home page through to checkout. This user path is one of the most important aspects of your website.
5. Poorly showcasing products.
First impressions are everything. Many store owners spend time tweaking their homepage, but often forget about the importance of a well designed product page. Choosing an appropriate way to showcase your products is essential, as it can either drive users to continue to checkout, or click away from your store.
Create powerful product descriptions that are written with your target market in mind, but are also simple enough for anyone to understand.
Images are not optional and should be high-resolution. Before buying, shoppers like to check out an image to get a visual sense of the product. And the image can make or break the sale.
You get one chance to present your product to the visitor, take the time to create inviting product pages. Once they are setup the page will keep selling for you over and over again. This is the place to put in the sweat equity.
Ecommerce is a great way for bricks and mortar stores to expand their customer base, as well as a great platform for dreamers to start great businesses, after all Amazon.com was a little ecommerce store once. So it is definitely worth the time to setup an online store methodically, do your research and be prepared to build it deliberately and effectively.