In the past few years there is a significant trend: a rise in opening of online stores. More and more young entrepreneurs start their own business. A lot of the offline retailers have an interest in transforming their businesses into online ones.
According to NSI statistics, in 2020 there was an increase in the percentage of consumers who have shopped online. In 2019, it was a total of 21.7%, and in 2020 – 30.9%. This is an increase of 9.2% of consumers who have made online purchases of goods and services for personal use.
The data indicates the future success of e-commerce and also of social networks. If you are one of the entrepreneurs that rushed to the online business, this article will give you useful information about starting a new venture. After long discussions in our team, we were able to find out what are the 7 most common mistakes when starting an online store that most young entrepreneurs make:
1. They rush recklessly into the unknown
Most of the entrepreneurs, attracted by the turnover in e-commerce, literally throw themselves into the unknown. And we don’t mean with wild enthusiasm, but rather with insane investments that are not always justified.
The biggest mistake we have noticed is from the owners of new online stores that are investing in something that may not always work. They rent offices, warehouses, people and programmers, etc.
Sometimes it turns out that the money saved for this endeavour finishes before the online store is even opened so no money for marketing is left.
Every business needs an investment but the best thing about online stores is that the investment is the smallest one possible. This is why the crucial first step is to plan your costs wisely.
The creation of the website is the first step. It is important to make it mobile friendly, we will explain why later.
You do not need to store huge amounts of goods that you are not even sure will be sold. At first, you will hardly have enough orders to invest in software, staff and warehouses for them. Remember that this is an online store and you can start, if not alone, then with no more than one or two partners.
Learn to test the environment in your online business. Quickly make an online store and start advertising right away. Even if you “burn” with a few orders, at least you will be sure whether to continue investing or not.
Don’t waste your time with companies that need an year to create your online store. There is no need for that. Start making your online sales as fast as possible.
2. They don’t have a business plan
We are not speaking about those 56-page business plans that include all the possible and impossible, foreseeable and unforeseen situations, as well as the consequences and actions you need to take when they happen. No! Here are some very simple questions to answer before you start.
- Do you know what and where you are selling it?
- Do you know the target audience of your business?
- Do you know what their problems are and how you can solve them with your products / services?
- Do you know how to turn the weaknesses of the competition into your advantages?
- How can you compete on the market and how do you differ from other online retailers? Through good prices, or through unique characteristics of your products and services?
- How is your online store different from the competition?
The answers to these questions will give you guidelines on how to start, what goals to pursue and where to go.
3. They don’t have a marketing strategy.
Most online retailers think that everything ends when they create their online store. We’ve even heard: “I thought that if I make a beautiful online store and upload quality products, sales will just start happening by themselves.”
To have an online store and not promoting it is like having a brand new Lamborghini and keeping it in your garage. Speaking of promotion, are you familiar with Google Adwords?
Here are some tips related to your marketing strategy so you will never have to jump into the common mistakes:
Having traffic on your website is just the first step to generating sales.
To start generating sales on the online store, you need to drive traffic from visitors, then turn visitors into customers, and then into loyal ones.
Start with the first step- bringing visitors to your site. Use channels like Facebook and Google Adwords to generate traffic (they are the most affordable). Target the right audience, experiment, but don’t stop there.
Turn users into customers
Most advertisers and online store owners make one major mistake – they are concentrating on generating traffic to their online store and once there, they stop trying. Truth is, customers are unlikely to trust you at first. Therefore, use the following tools:
- Remarketing – a customer is 7 to 10 times more likely to buy from you after being in your online store. So run ads to people who have already been to your site.
- Use dynamic remarketing – when the customer visit your store, browse 5-6 products and log out, these products will haunt him both on Facebook and on various sites on the web.
Use lead magnets or email collecting tools – despite the endless criticism that email marketing is spam, it is still the most effective and cheapest way to generate sales. Therefore, invite visitors to your site to leave an email in exchange for a tempting offer – a code for a 10% discount on the first order, a code for free delivery or participation in a raffle with a prize. Remember that your biggest marketing expense is getting someone to buy from you for the first time, because if you offer a quality product, every next one will be much easier.
Make your customers buy from you over and over again
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s easier to sell to a customer who has already bought from you, isn’t it? So don’t miss this step, just like more than 98% of online stores in Bulgaria.
You can use dynamic remarketing to upsell them, or in other words, sell them similar or complementary products they have already bought.
Regularly send them emails to inform about upcoming campaigns or promotions that are running at the moment. Advertise on Facebook and Google.
Don’t underestimate the power of the marketing strategy which you should have. No matter how beautiful or expensive your site is, it will not be able to sell without the proper advertising.
4. Poorly presented products
The inability of owners to put themselves in the place of their customers is one of the most common mistakes. This leads to many others, including underestimating the way the products are selected and presented.
It is essential to understand that your online store plays the role of a galery and a sales consultant. So give your customers everything they need to buy from you.
Show them that you have high resolution photos and a large size of all the products you offer.
You have also created, if not excellent, at least very good content with carefully selected keywords, giving detailed and useful information describing the goods you offer. Always include the benefits that this product brings.
Add a detailed description of the content, the size, the colour and everything else that will convince the customer to act.
Don’t forget you have only one chance to make a first impression. Create an amazing landing page which will make even the most doubtful customers want to buy.
5. Choosing a highly competitive or small niche
Choosing a highly competitive market is one of the leading mistakes when starting an online store. Products and services that have high demand are also associated with high competition.
It’s harder to deal with established retailers with established online stores with years of experience behind them. Among the key tools for dealing with competition is usually the price – a lower mark-up can make your prices competitive to attract customers.
The niche market is also not preferable. In this case, the lack of customers can be a serious problem for the business. The truth is that finding the ideal business niche is a delicate moment, largely related to your behavior on several business levels, which we share here in particular.
6. Unclear or missing competitive advantage
We have already mentioned that attracting traffic to your online store is not enough until it becomes a customer flow. For this to happen, however, visitors to your store need to know how you are better than the competition and what makes you special to others.
It is wrong to think that the best price is your competitive advantage. This is one of the key mistakes when starting an online store, as it is not excluded that at this time a competitor with a lower markup appears, due to the use of more favorable terms with suppliers, for example. That is why the presence and clear knowledge of the competitive advantage for your business is important in order to maintain your market position and win new customers.
7. Choosing the wrong online platform
Choosing the right platform is one of the most important things in starting an online store, even the most important. Nerves, expenses, and quarrels can cost you too much money, as well as a lot of negative emotions. However, remember that creating an online store is only the first step. That’s why you don’t waste your nerves in the beginning.
In general, the wrong choice can be an online platform that is not suitable for your needs, outdated, underdeveloped, overly personalised, unprofessionally maintained, not well developed in marketing, or simply made by your cousin’s boyfriend’s friend.
When choosing between different platforms, you need to think about both the customers and the people who will maintain your site. Will you maintain your site yourself, or will you have a team that will do this? Think about how much each modification on different platforms would cost you.
To help you in your choice, we have gathered 9 things to look for when choosing a platform:
Although hosting is not related to the design and functionality of the site, it is extremely important. If you decide to make a site on platforms such as Magento or WooCommerce, you need to provide an additional amount for hosting per month / year.
Depending on the speed and traffic of the site, this price can vary from 7 to 100 BGN / month. This way you will be more flexible, but at the same time hosting your site will depend entirely on you and you will have to deal with all the technical difficulties you will encounter.
Another option is to make the online store on a ready-made platform, on which you can host your site without worrying about how many people will enter it and how long it will take.
In this case, we recommend that you choose a platform that uses Google Cloud Platform servers that host sites such as Amazon, Shopify, Best Buy, and more. This way you will be calm that you will have a site with impeccable speed, regardless of the traffic in it.
2. Make sure you can integrate all paying methods.
Choose a platform that supports a wide range of payment methods. We like to see the goods before we pay for them. However, it is crucial to pay by card, with Paypal and many others.
So make sure the platform you choose supports all of this. It is important to be able to easily upload and download products, track orders and make changes to the vision of the site.
3. Make sure your platform can administrate itself easily
As already mentioned, you do not need to invest in an IT department to maintain your site. You can do this by yourself. The best platforms provide you with a user-friendly admin panel, by which you can make changes from any device.
4. Be sure to choose a platform that is adaptive to mobile devices
Here we emphasise on the word MANDATORY! Every year, the number of people browsing from mobile devices increases significantly.
According to the NSI data, in 2018 the percentage of used mobile devices for Internet access (outside the home) will increase – from 55.9% in 2018 to 63.2% in 2019 for used mobile phone or smartphone. This is the trend when using portable devices (laptop, tablet) – 11.3% in 2018 and 25.2% for 2019. To have an online store with a responsive design or to have a mobile version is a competitive advantage.
5. Who will take care of the updates on your platform
Online business is very dynamic. Changes happen literally every day. In other words, starting an online store is easy, but what happens next? It is possible that the site you made at the end of 2018 will be old-fashioned by the middle of 2020.
Then the logical question comes – who will take care of the redesign of the online store, who will make all the improvements and how much will it cost you? At such moments, it turns out that small changes can cost you as much as making a new store.
It is compulsory to research this issue before choosing a platform. If you want to have a Magento online store, for example, you need to have a trusted programmer to rely on. And yet to anticipate how much it would cost each additional modification you will need.
In general, it is difficult to estimate what to expect in a year or two. And you probably won’t be the one to keep up with all the news that comes up.
In this case, trust a ready-made platform that will do it for you. The role of the developers in it is to follow all the news and integrate them into their platform so that the owners of online stores can use them.
If you have a site on a ready-made e-commerce platform, you should make sure that the platform will take care of updating the designs and all those small but important things that you will not have to think about at all.
6. Choose the platform based on the support it offers
Being able to rely on a company that provides you with 24/7 support is actually much more important than you can imagine. If you are just starting your own business, you still have thousands of questions that you are not able to find the answers to..
And the things related to your online store will be many! Therefore, always choose a company that provides you with 24/7 support, not only for the time when they make your site, but forever.
7. Think about your checkout page
Imagine you are entering a big physical store. You pick some cool clothes and going to the checkout, you can choose between 3 casheres. Which one will you choose?
When thinking about your checkout page, always visualise this moment. Even if a customer has chosen a product, if the process of completing the order is slow, unpleasant, twisted or complicated, he will give up and go somewhere else.
There are checkout pages so complex that you almost need a university degree to complete your order. That’s why it’s important to trust a platform that has an easy, enjoyable and convenient checkout page consisting of one or a maximum of two pages. Or if it offers the possibility of quick ordering, where the customer will be able to order literally with one click.
8. Choose a platform that reflects your marketing needs
As it became clear, marketing is one of the compulsory facts for a successful online store. But sometimes it turns out that not the lack of knowledge in this area, but the opportunities that the platform has, can limit the development of your online store.
So whenever you choose a platform, research its marketing opportunities. Choose a platform that has a blog, integration with social networks, SEO features, dynamic product feed and more.
The best platforms will give you the opportunity to create a store on Facebook or Ebay and will send automated emails to people who have not completed their order. It is very important to be able to generate promo codes, to make discounts, to have easy integration with e-mail software and Analytics.
9. Find a platform that can be integrated with different suppliers
Imagine that the day when you will have to process 100 orders a day. Hopefully it will happen to you soon! But do you know what set of people you need to have to process orders and prepare bills for courier companies?
In this regard, the platform should offer integration with the courier company you have chosen to work with. This way you will be sure that you will not have to pay salaries to people whose work can be automated and replaced with just a few presses of the button.