Here’s how it goes: you set up a store and pour all your energy into your dream of selling online. Eventually your first sale comes in. You get an energy boost and work even harder. Then, the next sale comes, and another, and another. It all starts looking very promising.
Yet at some point, a few months down the road perhaps you begin to realize that something just isn’t right.
Your traffic can’t go beyond a certain level; you don’t get as many sales as you expected; and your store starts to gather dust.
For many online retailers this realization is an exact moment when they decide to give up. Some open up a new store and start the process again, others end up leaving online retail for good.
The harsh reality is that their stores were working perfectly well. All that’s happened was that they fell into some of the typical traps new ecommerce sites fall into.
In today’s business world, a brand is everything. You can spend all the money you have on advertising, SEO, other forms of marketing or many other things that are supposed to help you grow your business. However, unless you build a strong brand that differentiates you from your competitors and convinces customers that they should buy from you, your store just won’t make it.
It is quite natural that online stores focus on organic traffic from search engines first. It’s only natural, since this traffic is first and foremost free (if you can optimize your site yourself) and offers some incredible conversion opportunity.
However, SEO isn’t the only traffic source out there and quite often, it isn’t the channel a store should be focusing on first.
For instance, a store selling original art pieces won’t get much from SEO unless they have managed to build a very strong brand (which also brings us back to the first point) and even then, they might get more direct traffic than from search. Therefore, they should invest in other traffic sources which place them in direct contact with the people they should be speaking to the most, art lovers and their other target audience members.
Publicity can grow a business to an unimaginable heights. It can however also destroy one and it can happen in many ways.
To many business owners, publicity can be blinding. It is great to be constantly featured in the media, have people talking about your business and spreading the info on it. However, if you do not live up to the expectation such publicity creates, you might leave way too many people disappointed resulting only in negative publicity about your store.
It’s good to be a startup. You can openly make mistakes and many people will forgive them to you (and that’s among other things). However, being a startup doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work like a business and bring in profit from day one. However, many new stores seem to focus too much on the fact that they are new rather than on working like a proper business should.
Running an ecommerce store is fun, however, the only real outcome from it you should be worrying about is your profit. If your store brings you no money, regardless of how fun to run it is, ultimately it is a business failure.
Even if you have selected a great ecommerce niche, there is still one more potential trap you might fall into, selling the wrong products. There are a number of different producers in each niche. Even though they all might seem professional and all, not all products are perceived equally on the market.
This is especially important in the most specialized industries / niches.
When I launched The Happy Bike, I used to sell products from all bike racks producers. What I quickly discovered though was that a few of them were hurting my brand as their products weren’t perceived as top ones on the market (even though my impression was completely opposite). I removed those producers from the site only to realize an uptake in my conversions. A coincidence?
Similarly it’s easy to start selling too many products leading to too much choice for customers, overwhelming them and pushing them off your site, instead getting them to buy more.
This, I have to admit, is not only an ecommerce problem, rather a trap that many business in general fall into. Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. If you have the money to pay your suppliers, staff, cover your bills and more, everything is fine. The trouble start when you can’t and this is what often happens to smaller, new ecommerce stores (often operating on a dropshipping model). Suddenly they realize that they can’t pay for the order from a supplier as the cashflow isn’t there, leading to delays in order processing and other problems that only hurt their brand.
Planning is one of the most crucial aspects of any business. And a lack of it is one of the most common business mistakes.
Setting up goals and objectives for a business, financial planning, marketing planning and more should be the most crucial parts of any business operation from the day one (or even earlier, during the setup stage).
Ecommerce is not a get rich quick scheme. In order to make something out of it, you need to invest a lot of blood, sweat and tears. However, from personal observations, many new online retailers consider ecommerce an easy way to escape from the dreaded 9–5.
What business traps you fell into in your business? Are there any business mistakes you would like to warn any beginner Ecommerce owners about? Let us know in the comments.
Profit margins killed me. So much competition. And low pricing hurt me quickly.