Retail eCommerce has become an integral part of the retail business realm. More and more businesses, both large and small, are leveraging on their eCommerce websites.
The retail eCommerce revenue in the U.S, according to Statista, stood at $225.5 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach $434.2 billion by 2017. According to recent study by The Intelligence Group (TIG), 72% millennial (those between the age of 18 and 34) do their own online research before going to the local brick and mortar stores.
With so many economical and accessible platforms available in the market, building an online eCommerce store has become much easier. Now you can build an online store as good as eBay and Amazon at the most affordable rates and offer the best of the best to your customers. But remember your eCommerce website is a reflection of you and your brand, so it is very important to set up the website correctly.
The Internet offers you with a lot of opportunities to reach the global market and cater to their needs 24X7, 365 days in a year. But establishing your online business in this competitive market might be tougher than it seems. Careful planning and strategic implementation of the plan is necessary to grow your online business. This means you need to identify the risks and pitfalls along with the opportunities, so that you don’t stumble down setting up your online business.
Remember the first impression is everything! Here are a few things that need to be considered to avoid the major pitfalls when setting up an online eCommerce store:
Starting Without a Business Plan and Marketing Strategy
A lot of business owners have the misconception that just buying a domain and building an appealing website is enough to attract traffic. Like we would say, don’t jump in the ocean if you don’t know how to swim; similarly we would suggest don’t start an online business if you don’t have a solid business plan and a strong marketing strategy.
Your business plan does not need to be 200 pages long! You need to have a business plan that helps you to understand the best selling services/ products, your niche market, most preferred customers, how your services/ products can help your customers, etc. The marketing strategy should help you identify your competitors, channels to promote your service/ products and ways to measure success.
This might seem tough and daunting initially but as you start sorting out things one by one, things will become easier and obvious.
Wrong Host and eCommerce Platform
Being able to save some money is not bad; but not at the cost of the credibility of your online business. No doubt there are a number of free hosting options available, but not having your own domain name can have adverse effects on your brand. If you want people to invest money in your products and services, then you first need to win their trust. Having your own domain name is also the first step towards branding.
The biggest disadvantage – the site or content does not belong to you and you can’t connect to the social platforms (the strongest marketing tools in today’s online business realm). Hosting on the right platform offers a number of advantages – you can upgrade your website as your business grows; get 24X7 support services, your websites runs without glitches and most importantly you have complete control over your website.
Second, you must choose the eCommerce platform very carefully. There are a lot of excellent open source eCommerce platforms available such as Magento, Zencart, etc. that allow you to build your own customized eCommerce website, but you need to choose the one that suits your business needs the best. The eCommerce platforms have their own pros and cons, so evaluate them carefully choose wisely.
Unable to Locate the Customers
To make your online business successful, you need to know where to find your most preferred customers. Not every channel is going to be helpful for finding your potential customers. To start with, look where your competitors are promoting their products.
It is essential that you do your homework in advance, so that you can sell your products in places where people are willing to buy them. Promoting industrial machinery on Etsy would be sheer waste of time, since this is a niche online marketplace for handcrafted goods. Understand your customers and their needs and then determine where they are most likely to be found.
Ignoring User Experience
It is necessary for any online business to have an appealing website, but that’s not all. All you need to focus on is the ‘User Experience’. This means you need to build a website that has the perfect balance between usability and functionality. You need to covey your message to your customers in the right way and at the right time. Your website needs to have the perfect balance between the design elements and content.
Design your website in a clutter-free way to retain the customer’s attention and avoid all kinds of distraction. Have a clear navigation structure, high quality content, simple check-out process and a secured payment gateway.
One more thing that you need to take care of is the cross device compatibility and loading speed. Make sure you have a mobile responsive website that loads quickly.
Investing Without Planning
Many online business owners get overwhelmed and start building their inventories without knowing what the actual demand of the products will be, ending up draining their money with minimum or no returns. Experts recommend doing a market research about the demand of the product before acquiring or manufacturing it. To start with, you can check out the common marketplaces to see how many pieces of the same product that you are offering have been sold for the past few months. This will give you an idea of how much of each product you should have in your inventory.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed when starting your online business, but you should be very careful not to make any mistakes that will cause your online business to slow down. Establishing an online business in today’s competitive marketplace is very tough; so have a strong business plan and marketing strategy that will help you understand your targeted audience and identify your niche market.
To make your online business successful make sure you avoid making the above mentioned mistakes. Make a string start and go a long way!