9 common mistakes to avoid when starting your own e-commerce store
authored by Subhash Choudhary
Running a Digital Marketing Agency, I see a number of businesses trying to get on the E-Commerce bandwagon, and that number is increasing day by day. With availability of SAAS ecommerce platforms in abundance, it’s pretty easy for anyone to build a store and start selling online in a short time. It’s true that these tools make it easy to get online, however, what people fail to understand is that the actual selling part in the whole process is NOT that easy.
In this article we will try to cover what we have found about business owners coming up with E-Commerce stores.
1. Lack of research
Never ever forget, that starting up any new venture requires lots of research. Whether it’s a retail store or online. This research is required to gain complete information about the market, however if this is missing one may enter into a wrong market.
A proper research should be done to gain details about the habits, behaviour and preferences of your consumer. Having a complete knowledge about their preferences and buying habits will enable you create a dominant position for yourself in the market. However, on the other hand, absence of research may lead to frustration and panic when nothing sells from your store.
I see people spending weeks figuring out which platform to choose, what colour the logo should have, which payment gateway to go for. While all these are good things, You should invest more time researching about your potential customers, their buying behaviour and your competition.
Remember in E-Commerce – Technology is never a problem, it’s the selling which is difficult.
2. Absence of a business plan
Decision of starting an online store is a big one, it involves a good budget and hence the decision has to be made with proper strategy and thinking.
To put in action the above, a proper business plan should be formed well before building the store, which may have within itself, the amount of marketing budget involved, the goals and aims of the company, the product which company is willing to sell online, the proposed market which it is thinking of capturing and also the viability of the products in the industry.
The business plan may be broken down into various steps like processing, analysing, evaluating, selecting, marketing, financing etc.
And remember, build a business plan for yourself, not for external investors or to show it to the world. Do it for yourself to get more clarity on your business.
3. Lack of execution
A lot is involved in having an E-Commerce store which actually makes sales. Business owners complain about no sales, when we go check the website we see stock/low quality images with 2 lines of product information. That’s a sign of bad execution.
Your execution plan should have product photography and a brief summary of how it helps the customers as top priority. People need to see what they are buying with clear images and read details about understand how it can add value to their lives. There is no shortcut there.
4. Not having sufficient budget
Finance is the backbone of any of the venture, without which even the thought of starting up the business is lame, when it comes to an E-Commerce portal you are going to need pretty good budget for marketing and getting the word out. People are not going to know about your portal on its own.
Yes, you can optimize your E-Commerce website for search engines and hope for Google to rank you on first page but that takes months, you need results faster and that involves advertising. You heard it right that advertising online is way cheaper than traditional banner and newspaper ads.
Heck, anyone can start advertising with mare 500 INR (On Google). What you have not heard is 98 out of 100 people who visit your E-Commerce website leave without making a purchase and you are still paying for these visits in one way or another. You are going to a need a lot of these visitors’ data to learn about the buying behaviour of your target visitors and improve on how to show the right advert to the right audience on the right time.
5. Expecting immediate profits
Anyone who is starting up the Online store shall keep in mind that even withDigital marketing AKA paid advertising you cannot expect return instantly. You may even lose for a few days. There is no certain formula that you do a particular thing and your portal becomes a money machine. There are variables and they vary from business to business.
In the initial stages of the site, visitor data should be collected, analyzed and processed to figure out what is going on and what to do next. As time passes more data is available telling what else can be improve giving you further profits.
6. Not serving to customer’s interest
The business owner should never forget that consumers are the king of the market, and if you are not able to serve to the needs of the consumers than it will not be possible for your store to survive in the market. S
So the major focus of you should be on the customers. The products provided should add value to the lives of the consumer and they will take every step to remain loyal to you. Thinking about customer service from start and arranging fast shipping is something you should consider BEFORE you get your first order not afterwards.
7. Verbal contracts
It’s cool to see two buddies get together and start a new online store, but always remember to keep the partnership professional. When you are dealing with your friends or families you should have a proper process in place which clearly defines about who controls what.
We have frequently noticed that verbal arrangements or contracts have led to the closure of many stores as some people just so not stick to their words and cause disturbances in the business process.
A proper written contract should be preferred, having defined set of terms and conditions of the relationships between the suppliers and various other peoples involved, let it be your coder friend or the rich Uncle who lends you money for it.
8. Business involves just too many people
Its normal for a business to involve number of people or associates – in fact without them the business may not be run successfully. Whether it is a small or a large business, all of them require different skillsets, you need to ensure that you associate with right people.
The problem comes when you ask your mom about how your website looks. The biggest problem we see amount store owners is they have too many people giving their inputs and feedbacks. You should take into account everyone’s feedback. However, business decision should be primarily be based on the data and behaviour analysis not because someone thinks it will look cool that way.
9. Personal relationships
This one is something I like to add from my own. Doing a business is a full time job, let it be online store or a retails shop offline, It’s a big responsibility in its own, due to which at times you will have put your personal and social life at stake. But at such times try and learn to keep in balance both your personal life and work, as throughout your career you may need their support and love. So never ignore your loved ones as they are the ones who will stand by your side throughout.
Starting up a new venture is a big decision in itself, which can only be achieved with proper strategic planning and a lot of decision making. Hopefully, the 9 points I have mentioned above helps you getting on the right path of success for your jazzy new online store!
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About the Author: Subhash Choudhary is an Entrepreneur and Internet Marketer. He runs his own Digital Media Agency called Fumra Media