I get many calls every week from people who started an ecommerce business only to find themselves in the position of having to manage the mess they’ve created. My purpose in writing this article is to list some of the mistakes I’ve seen people make and then to illustrate the best methods to guarantee you build a successful ecommerce business.
Let’s go through the top six ways to ensure an ecommerce business will fail.
Six Common Internet-Based Business Mistakes and Misconceptions
1. Go with your gut feeling. This is probably the biggest mistake. Someone gets a great idea, and without any planning or research, jumps into an online business without consulting anyone. The person goes with the cheapest website design company he or she can find, and before you know it, the person has a website! Guaranteed success, right? Nope. Some statistics show that 90% of small businesses fail within the first 120 days of launching. Point being, do your homework and don’t go on instinct alone.
2. Everybody is doing it. It seems everybody you talk to knows someone who made a ton of money selling left-handed shoestrings on eBay. Let’s not forget the infomercials and pop-up ads that promise you can make millions by buying their “system.” Everybody is looking for a way to make easy money working from home, but the truth is, there’s no substitute for hard work.
3. Online businesses are cheaper than brick and mortar. While it may be true that you don’t have the start-up costs of a physical store (building, fixtures, employees), an Internet-based business can lose money just as easy as a business in a building. Failing to plan is a surefire plan to fail. In order to succeed, a business requires management and expertise, regardless of whether it’s online or on Main Street.
4. If I build it, they will come. Just because you have a website, it doesn’t mean you’re on your way to Internet riches. You have about ten seconds to make an impact on a first-time visitor. Websites that are difficult and confusing to navigate or take too long to load will quickly drive away potential customers. Once they leave, they probably won’t be back.
5. Sales figures tell the whole story. Making the sale is just the first step. Poor customer service will ensure that people who bought your product or service will never return. Problems are going to occur; it’s how you handle the issues that come up that will determine your success.
6. If you have a good product, that’s all you need. You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t communicate well with your customers, you aren’t going to succeed. Every step of the way, your customers need to be informed – when they place their order, when their credit card charge is approved, when their order is shipped, or if there’s a problem with their order.
The Moral of the Story – Six Ways to Promote Ecommerce Success
So now that we’ve seen all of the ways to successfully destroy an ecommerce business, let’s look at a few ways to ensure you do everything you can to be successful.
1. Have a plan! Put the plan on paper, find a trusted advisor, and do your homework. Do some research; find the best shopping cart, web host, merchant provider, accounting system, shipping provider, etc. There are a lot of moving parts; make sure all the parts will work together before you attempt to sell anything.
2. Know how you’re going to market your business. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one thing to consider, but be careful. This is a tricky area that’s full of unscrupulous hucksters. Social media is also an important part of a good marketing strategy.
3. Ensure that your site is easy to navigate, is pleasing to look at, and loads quickly. Don’t put annoying animated graphics, video, or audio on your home page. Nothing will drive a visitor away quicker.
4. Make sure you have customer service in place before you begin. Have procedures in place to ensure you know how to deal with customer complaints, product returns, and shipping problems.
5. Ensure your website is scalable and capable of growing as your business grows. Your web host must be able to adjust your capacity as your business increases.
6. Make sure you have a good source of products. Nothing will deter customers more than ordering a product and finding out it’s out of stock. Ensure that the products listed on your website are available for purchase.
Above all, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work hard. Enjoy the journey and have fun!