Top 10 eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid
Online commerce has been around for some time now, but the business model is still being refined. There are several differences between brick-and-mortar and online commerce, from the shopping cart to product selection and marketing. Most eCommerce sites fail unnecessarily, because the owner made one of these very common mistakes.
- Treating your eCommerce store like a brick-and-mortar store. If you have a physical storefront, transforming that into an eCommerce site should be straightforward, but it seldom is. Sales models and product selection that might work in the storefront may not translate well to online. Instead of attempting to make the online store a duplicate of the physical storefront, it needs to be built from the ground up on its own. Things that sell in person often don’t sell well online.
- Ignoring customer service. A very common error is thinking that an online shop is “turnkey,” and to hide behind the veil of the Internet. Even in cyberspace, success depends on a personal touch, and delivering customer service to ensure that your customers have all of their needs met. Attend to customer queries and problems right away.
- The error of anonymity. Smaller eCommerce operators, particularly those who operate out of their homes, sometimes make the deadly error of anonymity. Internet buyers want to know who they are buying from, and it is necessary to include your name and even a bit of personal insight and information about you and your company. And yes, even if you’re working from home, you need to include contact information.
- Shopping cart difficulties. The shopping cart is the most important part of your eCommerce site. Just like in a physical storefront, you need to make it easy for people to buy. Make sure there are multiple options for making payment, and that the shopping cart and checkout process is simple and intuitive.
- Product mix mistakes. In the online world, you may be less constrained than in the physical world in your product offerings. Internet real estate is cheap, and it’s easy to offer a product mix of thousands of items—indeed, you can offer everything in your wholesaler’s catalog if you wish. But should you? Never. Offering too wide of a product mix just dilutes the value and scope of your site; in most cases it is better to focus on a more specific niche area.
- Web site templates—the easy way out. There are hundreds of template eCommerce sites and boilerplate designs available, and while these may make a good start, using them as-is often is a mistake. Even though they may be attractive, the fact is, since it’s a template, there are hundreds of other sites that are using the same design. Make yours unique.
- Poor website content. The words on your Web pages may seem unimportant, but this is what convinces a buyer to buy. And what’s more, the words on your page are what talks to the search engines and makes your site rank highly in the search results. Pay careful attention to every word, hire a professional marketing writer, and employ search engine optimization techniques in your content creation.
- Never changing your product mix or content. Another common error is when an entrepreneur makes a reasonably good site, but then leaves it as-is. A good eCommerce site requires constant attention, new content on a regular basis (such as a blog, or refreshed relevant news articles), and a constantly changing product mix. The site can also be revised periodically to accommodate holiday periods, or special sales. Keep it interesting, and you’ll keep your customers coming back.
- Putting it on the Internet and forgetting it. There is a very common impression of how the Internet works among beginning entrepreneurs. The Internet does, of course, have a global reach, and there is the potential for something to go “viral”—but just buying products, creating a web site and putting in a shopping cart isn’t enough. Hanging something in cyberspace is no guarantee that anybody will ever see it. You need a concerted marketing effort that is aggressive and ongoing to drive people to your site.
- Fulfillment errors. Once your customers buy, you put the item in a box and send it out. Simple, yes? No. Careful attention must be paid to packing, with elements such as insurance taken into account, and method of transport. Items must also be sent out immediately, or at least within 24 hours—the downside of Internet purchasing is that customers have to wait to receive their product; it’s important for you as an Internet entrepreneur to minimize that wait as much as possible.