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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your E-commerce Business

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Anyone with internet access can quickly spin up an e-commerce business these days, thanks to the growing accessibility of tools and e-commerce technology. However, this ease of entry has led to a rise in competition like never before. It takes more than just having great products and a domain name to build a successful e-commerce business and a reputable brand you can be proud of.

Over the years, I’ve worked as a strategic advisor to hundreds of e-commerce businesses, from new startups to established, well-known brands. I’ve also been privy to firsthand insight from over 1.5 million e-commerce businesses. This has allowed me to see the most common blunders that e-commerce businesses make. By avoiding these mistakes, you can give yourself a good head start, stand out, and set yourself up for success in achieving your e-commerce goals.

1. Not Having a Clear Business Plan

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Starting an e-commerce business without a clear business plan is like setting off on a road trip without a map. You risk wasting time and resources on activities that won’t contribute to the growth of your business. A clear business plan provides a roadmap for achieving your goals.

Knowing your target market, your product’s niche, your pricing strategy, and your marketing plan are all important parts of a clear business plan. These things will help you build a strong base for your e-commerce business and ensure you’re going in the right direction. Your business plan should be detailed and comprehensive enough to outline your goals, strategies, and plans for achieving those goals. By taking the time to make a clear business plan, you can be equipped to handle the challenges of running an e-commerce business and build a successful brand that meets the needs of your target audience.

2. Choosing the Wrong E-commerce Platform

Not all e-commerce platforms are created equal. If you choose the wrong e-commerce platform, you could lose a lot of money, have low conversion rates, and hurt your business’s reputation. It’s important to select a platform that fits the needs of your business and gives it the tools it needs to run smoothly. From Shopify and BigCommerce to WooCommerce and Squarespace, there are several options to choose from. Your choice can greatly affect how well your online business does and how well it can grow.

Don’t assume. Make an informed decision by discussing your business requirements with an expert before selecting a platform. Drawing from their years of experience, an expert can provide valuable advice to help you find the best e-commerce platform for your business. They can look at things like platform capabilities, cost, scalability, compatibility with your business model, and potential roadblocks or limits.

3. Ignoring Mobile Optimisation

With the increasing popularity of mobile devices for online shopping, it’s crucial that businesses prioritise mobile optimisation. Failure to do so can result in many negative consequences, including decreased traffic, poor user experience, lower search rankings, missed sales opportunities and increased bounce rates. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on mobile optimisation and ensure that your website is easy to use and navigate on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

By prioritising mobile optimisation, you can increase traffic, improve the user experience, and attract more customers to your website. Mobile users have different needs and behaviours compared to desktop users, and failing to optimise your website for mobile devices can result in lower sales and revenue. To succeed in the competitive world of e-commerce, it’s essential to prioritise mobile optimisation and invest in strategies to improve your website’s mobile performance. By doing so, you can get more people to visit your site, make more sales, and build a successful e-commerce business.

4. Ignoring Search Engine Optimisation

Ignoring SEO can significantly affect your e-commerce business, including lower organic traffic and fewer sales. Without proper SEO, your website won’t rank well in search engine results, which means potential customers won’t be able to find your products. This can result in lost opportunities and revenue.

To succeed in the competitive world of e-commerce, it’s essential to prioritise SEO and invest in strategies that will help your website improve its Google ranking and search engine results. By doing this, you’ll be in a good position to get more organic traffic from search engines, make more sales, and build a successful e-commerce business.

5. Not Priortising Site Speed Performance

Research has shown that conversion rates can drop by 7% if a page takes just one second longer to load. Almost 70% of consumers say page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer. Customers can get frustrated by pages that take too long to load, hurting conversions, search engine rankings, and customer loyalty. It’s crucial to optimise site speed and invest in strategies like image optimisation, reducing HTTP requests, and using a content delivery network.

Focusing on site speed helps businesses improve website performance and give users a good experience, which is important for building customer loyalty and increasing conversions. Prioritising site speed is key to the long-term success of e-commerce businesses. Optimising site speed allows businesses to stay competitive in the e-commerce industry and maintain their edge over the competition.

6. Overcomplicating Your Checkout Process

The checkout process is the most important aspect of the e-commerce buying journey. The average cart abandonment rate is 69.99%. A complicated checkout process can frustrate potential customers and cause them to abandon their purchase, leading to lost sales and decreased customer satisfaction. To prevent this from happening, it’s essential to keep the checkout process as simple and streamlined as possible.

e-commerce Business Checkout

By providing clear and concise instructions, minimising the number of steps required to complete a purchase, and offering multiple payment options, you can increase customer satisfaction, reduce abandonment rates, and ultimately grow your e-commerce business. Don’t overlook the importance of a straightforward and easy-to-use checkout process. If you prioritise this, you’ll be able to give customers a good experience and make more sales.

7. Not Offering Multiple Payment Options

Customers have different ways they like to pay, and if you don’t give them a choice, you could lose sales. By providing convenient and flexible payment options such as credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, Shop Pay, Google Pay etc. or “buy now, pay later” options like Layby and AfterPay, businesses can improve the customer experience, increase satisfaction, and build loyalty.

A simple, secure, and user-friendly payment process with clear instructions and minimal steps is essential. Not offering multiple payment options can lead to reduced customer satisfaction and lost sales. Therefore, prioritising payment options and investing in strategies to provide a seamless payment experience is critical to growing an e-commerce business. By doing so, businesses can increase sales, build loyalty, and ensure long-term success.

8. Poor Customer Service

Without a clear and effective way to handle customer questions and complaints, you risk losing customers and hurting your business’s reputation. Poor customer service can result in negative reviews, decreased customer loyalty, and lost sales. Therefore, it’s essential to prioritise customer service and ensure that your business is equipped to handle customer needs effectively.

This can mean giving people different options to talk to you, like email, phone, or chat support. Having a responsive and helpful customer service team in place can improve customer satisfaction and build loyalty and trust with your customers. By prioritising the customer experience, you can build a strong reputation and ultimately increase sales, making it an essential component of any successful e-commerce business.

9. Not Having a Marketing Strategy

Every e-commerce business needs a marketing strategy integrated into the business plan. Identifying the target audience and their needs is crucial to tailoring marketing tactics effectively. Without a clear marketing strategy, businesses risk missing opportunities to reach their target audience, build brand awareness, and generate sales.

A successful marketing strategy should use a mix of methods and channels, such as social media, email, search engines, and content marketing. It may also include traditional media such as TV and print media. It’s essential to identify the most effective marketing tactics for reaching the target audience to increase visibility, attract more traffic, and generate sales. A solid marketing strategy is key to the long-term success of any e-commerce business.

10. Failing to Track and Analyse Metrics

Without insight, it’s hard to identify areas of improvement and optimise your business. Metrics such as conversion rates, bounce rates, and visitor demographics provide valuable insights into how customers interact with the website. Understanding these metrics helps e-commerce businesses make data-driven decisions to optimise the website’s performance.

For example, if you notice a high bounce rate on a particular page of your online store, you can analyse the page’s design and identify potential issues that may be causing visitors to leave. This insight allows you to do A/B testing and make changes to improve the page’s performance and ultimately increase conversions. That is how you can stay ahead of the competition and make informed decisions to optimise your websites for better results.

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