Posted on: Monday July 20, 2020
The ecommerce industry has been around for a couple of decades now, and during that time it’s gone from a novel alternative to the dominant form of retail for many high-value areas. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic served to highlight how effectively it can take over the forms of retail that the brick-and-mortar model had retained: grocery shopping being the prime example.
Due to this strength and consistent growth, as well as the ease with which someone showing entrepreneurial inclinations can become an ecommerce seller (in most cases, it’s massively cheaper and simpler than selling through a physical store), it’s become a tempting industry for those who want to go into business for themselves. But it isn’t easy.
In truth, the ecommerce marketplace is littered with failing startups: stores that just can’t compete and won’t be able to remain in operation for long. If you’re eager to give online retail a try, then, you need to do everything you can to escape that fate. To make it easier for you to avoid them, let’s take a look at four of the most common ecommerce mistakes in 2020:
Not Being Memorable
There are many failing ecommerce stores out there, as I noted, but there are far more stores that scrape by. They offer solid prices and acceptable quality levels, and they manage to pick up enough sales to survive, but they’ll never grow beyond that point. Why? Because there’s nothing memorable about them. No one will ever buy from one of those stores and find that it sticks in their mind somehow, pushing them to return down the line.
The biggest mistake people make is being generic. It’s tough to stand out, sure, particularly when you’re selling products that are also sold elsewhere (relying entirely on third-party products is the core of the popular dropshipping model), but it’s also vital. You need a brand personality, a visual identity, and some kind of overarching concept to give your store cohesion.
Overlooking Customer Experience
Let’s say you manage coming up with a memorable brand identity — something that really grabs people — and you combine it with great products and competitive prices to draw people in. You pick up some visits and make some conversions, and you feel pretty good about it. But there’s a problem: your customers remember you, but they still don’t return. Why?
You investigate, reaching out to ask them directly, and you learn the truth: your customer experience was mediocre. It’s often a lack of after-sales support that causes problems. Simply taking the initiative to contact your customers after they’ve bought from you and ask them if they’re happy can make all the difference, because it shows that you care about providing a good service — and when a buyer knows you care, they’ll be more likely to buy from you again.
Being Insufficiently Proactive
It’s very common for optimistic new sellers to build their ideal stores, put them live, then sit back and wait for the conversions to roll in. When nothing much happens, they wonder if they were wrong about the viability of their ideas. Maybe there’s no interest in their products and they should give up. Obviously this is misguided. Small-scale ecommerce requires active marketing.
I say small-scale ecommerce because it’s possible for a brand to get so big that it no longer needs to do any marketing to get some sales — but big brands do it anyway, because resting on their laurels isn’t a good business tactic. To start winning customers, you need to run PPC campaigns, get active on social media, run promotions, ask everyone you know to talk about your store, and — most notably — work on SEO (more on that next).
Failing To Work On SEO
SEO, or search engine optimization, is incredibly important for online business in general, but it’s particularly significant for ecommerce. There are two big reasons why: firstly, the average ecommerce journey starts with a Google search, and that Google dominance isn’t going anywhere in the near future. Secondly, it’s highly economical: good SEO work continues to pay off long after it’s been paused (unlike something like PPC).
Even before you set your store live, you should be thinking about SEO. Pick up your domain ahead of time and let it settle so Google will be more likely to trust it. Work in the keywords that you want your pages to rank for. Ensure that your site performs very well, because a slow site (or one that isn’t mobile-responsive) is less likely to secure high rankings.
There are many more mistakes that ecommerce sellers make, of course, but the four we’ve looked at here are the most common and frustrating. If you make a concerted effort to avoid them, you’ll have a much greater chance of making your store a success.