Launching an ecommerce business is both exhilarating and scary. As you stand on the precipice preparing to make the great leap of faith that is entrepreneurship, give yourself a chance to revel in the euphoria. Then recognize that there are several pitfalls that you would be wise to avoid as you make your initial foray into ecommerce.
Making things too complicated.
When you’re starting a new business, there are several areas where you should not cut corners. Among them are designing your products, planning your financial outlook, and hiring qualified consultants or staff members who can help to catapult you toward success. Being extremely intentional and precise in all aspects having to do with your brand will solidify the foundation of your business as you begin to seek those all-important loyal customers.
That being said, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Unless you are selling a revolutionary new ecommerce platform, for instance, there is no need to try to construct the one you will be using from scratch. The fact is that there are numerous other options that have already been proven to be successful. Choose one of those, and move on to doing what you do best in your little niche.
Your website should be more than just pretty graphics interspersed with informational content. In fact, it should be the ambassador that introduces your brand to a potential customer, who holds their hand as they browse, and who provides information, and who guides them to the end of the sale and far beyond. If your site’s design is slipshod, confusing, or overly flashy, visitors may look upon it in the same way as they would a smarmy snake-oil seller.
That’s another reason why you need to set yourself up with a reliable website and/or ecommerce platform that has your success in mind. Most offer a wide variety of design choices and templates that fit most business owners’ needs. If, however, your requirements are unique, you can always invest in top talent to develop a customized option that fits with and effectively promotes your brand.
Poor product descriptions.
If your site is constructed to sell a unique item that you have invented and designed, you probably already recognize the importance of creating content that informs and excites consumers while inspiring them to make that all-important purchase. However, you might not give the same attention to products that are also sold by numerous other vendors. That’s an oversight you as an ecommerce merchant cannot afford to make.
Your time is limited, so you might be tempted to simply copy the manufacturer’s description of a particular item. The problem is that Google’s search engines will view that as redundancy, which will affect your place in search rankings. Since most buyers never scroll past the first one or two pages of a Google search, you will find yourself attracting fewer customers than you’ll need.
Failure to implement responsive design.
For many customers, the cellphone is becoming their primary computer and the only way they browse for and purchase products. If they land on a site that does not play nicely with their Apple or Android phone, they will simply go elsewhere. That’s why you need to take steps to make your site as mobile-friendly as possible.
Partnering with a good ecommerce platform is your best start. Then make sure you have implemented the following features to optimize your site for mobile devices.
• Different views should be enabled in different contexts.
• Images must be flexible.
• Your site should be able to adapt to all devices.
• It should support as many browsers as possible.
• It should also be compatible with (and navigable on) small screens.
• Finally, it should be set up for fast page downloads.
Making sure that your site is equipped with these features will entice the ever-increasing number of shoppers who are using their tablets and phones in lieu of more cumbersome alternatives when making their online purchases.
Not attracting niche customers.
How are you going to separate yourself from your behemoth online competitors? One way is to convince potential customers that you are uniquely qualified to meet their needs. Failing to differentiate yourself from the pack can prove fatal, especially to a small to mid-sized business.
The key is to understand who your customers are and what tactics you can employ to drive them to you. Consider creating a snapshot of your ideal buyers that includes characteristics such as their interests and values, the “pain points” that will make them interested in your products, and any subcultures they belong to. This portrait can then form the basis of the marketing and social media campaigns you will eventually launch to drive potential buyers to your ecommerce site.
You probably already know that search engine optimization (SEO) with Google and other platforms is one of the best ways to bring traffic to your site. However, you could encounter several bumps in that road, including errors in your SEO protocols that can form a bottleneck that prevents interested parties from reaching you.
• Duplicate versions of a page.
• Links to pages that don’t exist (404 pages).
• Links to redirects such as 301 or 3-2 pages.
• Broken links from your site.
These technical issues can sometimes be solved with canonicalization and crawl tools. However, your best bet is to consult a professional if it is within your budget.
Overly complicated shopping carts.
Whether you have a small website, or a large omnichannel payment platform, offering shopping cart simplicity is key. If people have to work too hard to make a purchase, a fair percentage will simply abandon the proposition altogether, and that is definitely something you don’t want.
On the other hand, a streamlined shopping cart will facilitate a fast and secure purchase. All buttons should be clear and readable, and consumers should not need to create an account to complete their purchases. If you accept payments in multiple currencies, your cart should display that fact prominently, which will allay the fears of many shoppers who will be more comfortable making a buy with their native money. Also, be sure to display any security certifications or credentials to put potential purchasers’ minds at ease about the safety of your transactions.
Succeeding in any kind of business involves taking risks, and ecommerce is no exception. However, avoiding the missteps we have outlined above will help to minimize some of the challenges you may face. That will leave you with more time and energy to provide stellar products and excellent customer service for many years to come!