Starting an online store can be a great way to jump into entrepreneurship. After all, startup expenses are relatively low in the ecommerce world, so the barrier to entry is low.
However, just because you can start an online store doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. In fact, making the critical mistakes described below can almost guarantee you’ll fail in your new venture. Avoid them at all cost.
1. Not having a business plan
You wouldn’t open up a brick-and-mortar store without a plan, so don’t make this fatal mistake when starting an online store.
You need a business plan to ensure:
- You’ve done your market research
- There’s demand for your product
- You’ve priced your product correctly
- You know who your audience is
- You know the best way to market and advertise your business
- You know your business’s strengths and weakness
- You know your competition
- You have a plan forward to ensure future success
2. Setting up your store on the wrong ecommerce platform
Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix – they're all the same, right?
Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages, and the first one you choose might not necessarily be right for your business. The products you plan to sell, your plan for growth, your need for security, your budget, your website design plans, and the tools you want to integrate are all factors that can affect your platform choice.
Choosing the wrong platform can affect how much control you have over your website, your customer’s user experience, and your ability to scale in the future. Choose wisely.
3. Ignoring best practices
What works online changes constantly, which is why it’s a good idea to follow the latest best practices to ensure you’re building an ecommerce website that customers will love.
Brush up on website design, SEO, CRO, UX, and branding best practices before you start. Better yet, outsource these critical tasks to ensure your new business gets started on the right foot.
4. Stopping at basic functionality
Once your basic website is built and visitors can view your products, put them in a shopping cart, and check out, you might think you’re done.
But it’s important to remember that there is A LOT of competition online (remember the low barrier to entry?), so you need to be better than the rest to stand out.
What does that mean? Adding plugins, tools, and additional functionality to create a killer user experience your customers will absolutely love.
This could mean allowing them to “quick view” your products.
It could be offering an omnichannel experience that’s consistent from phone, to tablet, to desktop.
It could mean offering a seamless checkout experience with one-click payments and alternative payments.
Consider what your customers want in terms of experience and functionality, and go above and beyond.
5. Not defining your ideal customer
It would be great if everyone in the world wanted to buy your product, but that’s just not going to be the case. Just like every other online business, you’re going to have a target audience and an ideal customer.
It’s a good idea to take some time to define who is most likely to buy from you, so you can avoid wasting time and money trying to market and sell your product to the wrong people. You’ll want to understand everything about this ideal customer, including their pain points, budget, demographics, and values, as well as where they consume content online and what kind of language resonates with them.
6. Thinking if you build it, they will come
Building an ecommerce website is one of the first things you’ll need to do when starting an online store, but it’s certainly not the ONLY thing you’ll need to do.
“Build it, and they will come” simply doesn’t work in ecommerce.
You need to strategically market and advertise your online business, so your target audience will a) know you exist and b) want to check out your website.
Once your website is built, create a comprehensive marketing and advertising strategy, give it a hefty budget, and dedicate considerable time to brand awareness.
7. Not prioritizing customer service
You know customer service is critical in store. Many customers continue to shop in brick-and-mortar stores precisely because they appreciate great service.
That doesn’t mean your customer service can be non-existent online, though.
Before you launch your ecommerce site, make sure you create a customer service strategy so visitors can reach out if they’re having technical problems with the checkout process, have questions about your products before they buy, or need to reach you for any other reason.
Great customer service can affect your reputation and turn one-time shoppers into loyal customers, so it’s worth prioritizing.