Opening an ECommerce store can be a lucrative prospect, but lots of people go into it under-prepared, with an estimated 90% of new ECommerce businesses failing within 120 days of their launch.
There are so many things to consider in the early stages of running an ECommerce. Who is your target audience? What are the Logistics of shipping your product? How will you stand out?
And with these considerations come plenty of pitfalls as well, which is why we have created this list of 6 ECommerce mistakes you need to avoid, to get yourself off on the right foot.
Not Having a Clear Plan
By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail, so goes the adage. Going in gun-ho without a viable plan of action is a bad strategy for life in general, but for eCommerce, having a solid plan in place is even more crucial.
Entering the world of eCommerce without any research or prior knowledge is a good way to fail. Sure, you might luck out and come out on top, but the odds are heavily stacked against you.
Start by analyzing the market, the market demand and supply of the product(s) you wish to sell. It is incredibly important to find out whether there is a viable market for your product, whether people will buy what you are selling as soon as you can. Otherwise, you may spend months of your time and a whole lot of money on a non-profitable idea.
The research should include all your costs, labor, revenues and much more, all these things will contribute to the cost of your product, affecting your bottom line. Will you be able to price your items at an attractive enough price point while still earning a comfortable profit?
Finally, check out who your major competitors will be, where they have succeeded and failed and how they are selling their products. You will need to stand out, so figuring out what you can do differently will be critical.
Not Understanding Your Niche
So, you have products and now you have a business plan, you are all set to go right? Well, unfortunately not.
One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is to not clearly understand their target audience. If you cannot define your audience, you cannot understand if they will need or want your product, or even whether you have an audience in the first place.
Shoppers may find your site, they may even take the time to look around, but if they are not in your niche then they will not be giving you their money. A clear and specific, targeted audience of a hundred people will bring in more profit than a thousand non-targeted ones.
Once you have a defined niche, and a defined target audience to match, you will be able to see clearly whether said audience needs your product, you will understand how to communicate effectively with that audience, and you will be able to start working on a brand marketing strategy that puts your audience front and center.
Choosing the Wrong ECommerce Platform
When it comes to ECommerce there is a whole host of options to choose from, and many ECommerce platforms will allow you to create online stores and conduct online sales. To set yourself up with the best chance for success, you need to choose the one that best suits your goals.
A good ECommerce platform will give you the tools to present your products, communicate with customers and fulfill orders in a full cycle, from order to delivery. All of this should be engaging, convenient and easy for your customers, the wrong platform can be a huge obstacle in your businesses long-term success.
Conduct some research before settling on any one platform, check out reviews and, better yet, ask other ECommerce owners and companies what they use and why.
Whether it be an established platform such as Shopify, or even your own website, know what your needs and budget are, and which options makes the most financial, and technical, sense.
Having Poor Website Design
If you decide to go the route of having your own ECommerce website, then ensure it is both easy on the eye and easy to use.
User experience is the be-all and end-all of your ECommerce website, poor design and navigation will frustrate customers, sending them elsewhere even if they like the products you are selling. Couple this with lackluster functionality and optimization, such as long load times, and potential customers may never return.
Your products should be catalogued, with tags and categories to make them easy to find. Moreover, search options within the site should be simple and convenient to use, and checkout should be clean and simple.
Consider hiring a professional software developer and/or UX designer to help you get the most from your site, it can be costly upfront, but a clean, attractive, and user-friendly website will pay back over and over in the long run.
Not Optimizing for Mobile
This goes hand in hand with having good website design. The number of mobile phones shoppers continues to grow each year, so if your website has only been built with desktops in mind and is not properly scaled or optimized for mobile devices, then you could be losing out on a large chunk of potential customers.
Having Poor Customer Service
Good customer service covers a lot of different things. It is how you respond to messages through your website, comments on social media, how you address customers over the phone and via email.
Any interaction with your customers requires your full attention and support, sure, product and promotion are important, but poor customer service and dissatisfied customers can kill your businesses reputation.
You should be accessible to your customers at every stage of the sales process, providing a personal touch to the customer journey and quickly mitigating issues when they arise.
If you take a lifetime to respond, rely on automated responses, show impatience or irritation when handling complaints, or do not offer refunds, then you are going to leave a trail of unhappy customers and negative reviews.
Your customers are the lifeline of your business and having good customer service is one of the best ways to both retain existing customers and bring in new ones as well. Customers are more likely to commit to a purchase if previous customers have had a good experience with you and your shop, after all.