The e-commerce industry has expanded rapidly in the last ten years and it shows no signs of slowing down. In 2020, the international online retail market will reach peak earnings of 4.9 billion USD – an amount that’s more than double of its value three years ago.
Why is e-commerce so popular can be attributed to the fact that you do not need much to start an online business. With just a few clicks, you can become an online entrepreneur yourself.
But though anyone, regardless of background, can own an online business, not all e-commerce stores succeed. Data shows that more than 90 per cent of new online businesses call it quits in more or less four months.
Online stores meet different fates – resilient and lucky ones remain while the rest fade away. Why? The lack of experience, coupled with a vague set of strategies, forces first-time business owners to face the harsh realities of competition. A change of game plan may be in order.
Here is a rundown of common mistakes entreprenuers hoping to make it big in the e-commerce market should watch out for:
1) Rushing e-commerce web design and web development
You want to build a website for your target customers. You want it to look a certain way – attractive, engaging and animated elements. Problem is... you want it NOW!
While your entrepreneurial passion is worth the applause, please note that your online store is the heart and soul of your e-commerce business. It is not something you can build overnight and without proper thought.
Sure, you can use a template. WordPress and many web design websites offer professional and responsive designs. Awesome – except you have to put up with a generic platform that may look good on the surface but does not really address user experience or specific customer needs. Say for instance you want to build an online store that looks and functions like Alibaba. If this is the kind of e-commerce empire you hope to create, a pre-made website template will surely fall short of your standards.
Be flexible with the deadlines you set. Never build an e-commerce website hurriedly. Instead, focus on maximising functionality and giving your customers the kind of experience that would convince them to buy a product from your online store. Why not find ways to make online shopping easy and hassle-free for your future customers?
2) Focusing on the wrong factors
How your website appears can definitely affect click-throughs and traffic. But if you focus on appearance alone, neglecting other factors like functionality and user experience (UX), you are setting yourself up for disaster.
As mentioned earlier, focusing on functionality and user experience (UX) can be game-changing. Users may think your site looks great, but if it takes time for them to find the product they need or go from one page to another, they will think your website does not meet their expectations.
Online entrepreneurs must ensure that different elements of their website go together. Providing a FAQ section will be an added advantage. Anticipate possible customer questions and supply honest and helpful answers to each one of them. Always place your number and email address on conspicious areas of your site and encourage customers to call you when they need assistance. Better yet, for convenience’ sake, install a chatbot that redirects customers to specific segments of your FAQ page.
3) Populating e-commerce website with unnecessary information
Website owners doing SEO are guilty of this. Search engine optimisation has helped leveraged many online businesses, catapulting them to the heights of success. But too much of it can be counter-productive. E-commerce entrepreneurs must act with discernment when it comes to choosing a reliable SEO company. These days a number of people claim to be SEO specialists but have really nothing to offer except redundant information stuffed with keywords.
Does this sound like a catch-22 situation? So what information should you place on your website? First off, if you must do SEO, do so ethically. Find a white hat SEO company. Whether you spearhead your own digital marketing campaign or let experts handle it for you, never attempt to fool search engines.
Secondly, do not give too much or too little information. The answer is somewhere in between. And while you are at it, always remember that honesty goes a long way so refrain from exaggerated claims. Let visitors to your e-commerce site know about your company, your mission and vision and the kind of products you offer. For the product pages, focus on specifications, available colours or sizes (where possible) and some disclaimers or warnings that are useful to buyers.
Welcome to the world of online entrepreneurship where competition is tough. However, if you carefully avoid the common mistakes listed above, you can start off strong and stand out from your competitors.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Not to be too literal about this adage, but it simply means that great things take time. And if you want to succeed and stay in business for as long as possible, you must not rush anything, focus on what matters and always put yourself in the shoes of your customers.