Updated on September 13th, 2018
You’ve heard the hype. You’ve read the news. You’ve seen the results. Now you want to try it for yourself: starting an e-commerce business. Even if you make products at home and store an inventory, you still don’t have to leave your house to go to work in the morning. It allows unprecedented flexibility, and there’s a way to do it where you won’t even come into contact with the products you sell.
If you have decided that an e-commerce business is for you, then there are some things to be aware of. It’s not a complete 180 from all the hassles that come with brick-and-mortar companies. You probably won’t make a million dollars worth in sales during your first month, despite reduced overhead costs. Running an e-commerce operation still necessitates a detailed strategy, a realistic mindset, and the ability to adapt, so here are a few things to avoid when you are getting started.
1. Spreading yourself too thin
If you have an idea you believe the entire world will love, that’s awesome—but not everyone is going to, so you will waste your time marketing to people who have no interest in what you are selling. Instead of convincing people why your product is worth having who have never considered it before (that comes later when you have more credibility), focus on people who already want what you have to sell, and convince them why yours is better.
Having a niche audience is important. Branching out too far, too fast will be detrimental. If an artist wants to buy a new sketchpad, does she go to a general stationery store or an art supply outlet that carries different kinds of paper and sizes? While having a variety of products is useful, jacks-of-all-trades are not who consumers turn to first. Every industry is already saturated with businesses, so specializing in something will help you stand out from your competitors.
2. Neglecting marketing
Just because you online does not mean that people are going to find you. People can stumble across brick-and-mortar businesses by happy accident when walking down the street, but e-commerce enterprises are moredependent on marketing than their physical counterparts. Some techniques include engaging with your audience online (sometimes without trying to convert them), leveraging social media, hosting promotions, sharing user-generated content, and focusing on your SEO efforts.
3. Forgetting the fine print
In your excitement to start your business, you might do so a little hastily and forget to double check that no one else is already using the name you have selected. Infringing on someone else’s trademark will result in a legal struggle that you don’t want to deal with. There are free online resources you can turn to if you are unsure if your name is available.
Be sure to register your business structure as something that works for you. Being a sole proprietorship requires less paperwork, but becoming a corporation or LLC might be wise for you. Whichever you decide on will influence how your operations work and how you pay your taxes.
4. Not providing a sound payment solution
Employees, vendors, and suppliers do not always accept the same type of payment solutions. Using eChecks is a method you should consider using if you want to cut down on envelope stuffing and send out secure payments in just seconds.
5. Hosting an unnavigable website
On a related note, make sure that your checkout process is not overly complicated. Consumersabandon 67.45 percent of their carts, so you do not want site visitors to leave you because the hassle of paying is more effort than it is worth. Your process should be straightforward and secure. When it’s done, sending customers a confirmation email to set their minds at ease is a good idea.
Your website in general should be easy to navigate. No one will want to purchase from you if they cannot find their way around easily or if there is no search feature. Poor images, a frustrating user interface, and generic product descriptions will also turn visitors away. Adorn your site with menus and an elegant simplicity that incentivizes consumers to continue with their transaction. Pay particular attention to your website’s security, too; you do not want to fall victim to cyber attacks that hurt both you and your customers.
Starting an e-commerce business can be lucrative, but despite a few of the perks it offers that brick-and-mortar enterprises do not, there are some mistakes you should do your best to avoid. What steps will you take when starting your business?