Lesser-Known Challenges of Running an E-Commerce Store
Running an eCommerce store can be glamorous: raking in profits, living the digital nomad lifestyle, touring space (if youâ€™re Jeff Bezos), and more.Â
But beware of the lesser-known challenges lurking beneath the surface because according to data, 9 out of 10 eCommerce startups fail within the first 4 months, and itâ€™s no coincidence â€“ most business owners are making the same mistakes, and NONE OF THEM realizes it.Â
I bet my leg that youâ€™re one of them right now.Â
Wanna find out? Keep reading.
Series of Challenges
From large-scale website crashes to neverending customer service demands: this series of challenges decide the fate of your business (and my leg).Â
So if you want to be the special chosen one that doesnâ€™t flop in the first four months, then watch out for these ten fatal mistakes.
1. Building Your Online Store
- Not Having a Mobile-Friendly Website: Sure, a sleek and stylish website is cool. But unless itâ€™s optimized for mobile, you could miss out on many potential customers. The fix? Invest in a responsive web design that looks good and works smoothly on any device.
- Ignoring SEO Best Practices: If search engine optimization (SEO) tips were food, world hunger wouldnâ€™t exist because thereâ€™s simply that much abundance of resources in SEO. Thereâ€™s even a free 8-hour SEO course on Youtube! So there is no excuse for ignorance anymore, yet despite this, 90.68% of websites get ZERO TRAFFIC. So if you want to succeed, then start self-learning or grab an SEO specialist.
- Skimping On Security: Whether protecting customer data or preventing fraud attempts, security is a must-have when maintaining an online store. Ensure all customer communication is encrypted and your payment gateway can handle any online transaction.
- Poorly Structured Shopping Carts: This is a big one â€” no one likes navigating a confusing shopping cart! Designing a user-friendly shopping experience is essential, as it ensures that customers will come back to your store and helps prevent lost sales due to poor navigation. Remember: keep it simple and easy to use!
2. Managing Inventory
- Not Having Enough Stock: Running out of a product can leave your customers feeling frustrated and discouraged. It’s a good idea to predict demand for seasonal items as soon as possible and have a strategy for meeting peak demands without running out of product.
- Having Too Much Stock – Keeping too many items on hand can increase costs and decrease profits. Make sure that you review sales regularly and adjust inventory levels accordingly.
- Stocking the Wrong Things – Your products should cater to your customer’s needs rather than what you think will sell. Ask your customers for feedback and determine which items should be stocked in your store.
- Not Understanding Shipping & Taxes – Be sure to consider any taxes or shipping fees when setting prices for your products to save money when it comes time to ship them out or pay taxes on them.
- Forgetting To Update Pricing – Prices can vary based on market conditions or seasonal demand, so updating pricing regularly is vital if you want to stay competitive. Make sure to review and adjust prices at least once per month, depending on market trends.
Want a cheat code? Check out this life-saving order fulfillment guide for eCommerce.
3. Keeping Up With Trends
- Not Staying on Top of Trends: It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and be enticed by a trend only to find out it’s already gone out of style. To avoid this, constantly research, monitor, and analyze the market and stay up-to-date with the latest trends. An example of a rising trend that new businesses is outsourcing order fulfillment for eCommerce toÂ
- Focusing Too Much on One Trend: If you focus too much of your efforts or resources on one specific trend, you risk not achieving good results if that particular trend doesn’t take off as expected or goes away quickly due to changing customer tastes and preferences. Try to diversify your strategy by promoting multiple trends at once instead.
- Going Overboard: Just because something is trending doesn’t mean you should jump on the bandwagon without considering whether or not it makes sense for your business or target audience. Try to maintain an element of common sense when following trends, not overdoing it and alienating customers.
4. Payment Processing
- Not using a payment gateway: Payment gateways are essential for selling online and collecting payments. With one, you can process transactions securely and ensure that the money is coming from the right place. It’s important to research different providers and find the best one for your eCommerce store.
- Not understanding PCI Compliance: As an eCommerce business owner, it’s essential to understand what PCI Compliance is and how it affects your store when processing credit cards. If you don’t comply with its regulations, you could face serious consequences such as fines or criminal charges! Learn more about this by visiting sites like pcicomplianceguide.org or pcisecuritystandards.org.
- Not protecting customer data: As a business, you are responsible for protecting your customers’ data and personal information. Ensure all your payment processing systems are secure and that any sensitive information is encrypted when transferred over the internet or stored in databases. It would be best to use solid firewalls, malware protection, and other security measures to keep hackers out of your site.
- Not offering enough payment options: Offering multiple payment options is essential for any eCommerce store. Not only will it help you attract more customers, but it also increases the chances that they’ll make a purchase. Make sure to offer both traditional methods, such as credit cards, and newer ones, like PayPal and Apple Pay.
5. Customer Service
- Not offering customer service in the first place: This is a significant mistake for any e-commerce store. Not providing customers with the chance to get their questions and concerns addressed will lead to bad reviews, poor loyalty, and decreased sales. To avoid this error, ensure an efficient customer service team (or at least designate someone who can handle customer inquiries) is available at all times.
- Ignoring messages or taking too long to respond: Nothing irks customers more than being ignored or getting slow responses when they reach out for help. Ensure that you have procedures that ensure prompt replies to inquiries so customers donâ€™t feel neglected or frustrated by your lack of response time.
- Not having enough information: Customers expect to have detailed information about the product or service they are inquiring about before contacting customer service. Make sure you have a comprehensive FAQ section and thorough descriptions of your products and services on your website so customers can get the answers they need without having to contact customer service.
- Poor communication skills: How you communicate with customers is critical for their overall experience with your e-commerce store. Ensure all customer service agents understand the importance of responding politely, using proper grammar and spelling, and providing clear solutions to customer inquiries.
- Not taking feedback seriously: You must listen to what your customers say and respond promptly. Take their feedback seriously, as it can often help you improve the overall customer experience. Make sure to follow up on any concerns or complaints that are brought up, and thank customers for taking the time to provide feedback. This will show them that you value their opinion.
- Being Too General – Failing to target specific audiences with tailored campaigns will result in lost customers and money wasted on ineffective campaigns. Create campaigns that appeal to each customer segment’s particular demographics and interests.
- Not Tracking Results – You will know if your efforts are successful. You are utilizing analytics tools to track each campaign’s effectiveness and ensure that you’re using up-to-date audience data.
- Not Creating Engaging Content – Writing boring, unengaging content is a surefire way to lose customers quickly. Keep them engaged by creating exciting content while being informative about your products or services.
7. Taxes and Regulations
- Not Properly Filing Taxes: One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is not properly filing their taxes. Knowing your local, state, and federal tax obligations are essential so you don’t end up in hot water with the government! How to avoid this mistake? Make sure you have a qualified accountant who can help you sort out all the paperwork and ensure your business remains compliant.
- Not Following All Necessary Regulations: Many eCommerce businesses fail because they aren’t aware of or follow all of the necessary regulations for online sales. Regulations vary from country to country and even between states. Hence, you must research what applies to you before you start selling. How to avoid this mistake? Consult with a lawyer specializing in e-commerce laws and regulations to ensure compliance.
- Not Having the Right Insurances: Your business needs to be protected, which means having the right insurance policies in place. Make sure you cover yourself against any accidents that might occur while running your e-commerce store. To avoid this blunder, talk to an experienced insurance broker who can advise you on the best coverage for your business model.
- Not Keeping Accurate Records: When it comes time for taxes, all your records must be up-to-date and accurate. This includes sales, expenses, inventory records, and more. So make sure you track and document everything related to your e-commerce store so that it can all be easily accessed when needed.
- Not Staying Up to Date on Changes: Things are constantly changing in the e-commerce world, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with any new regulations or developments that may affect how you operate your business. That’s why you should follow industry news sources and regularly review all relevant laws and regulations so you know what always applies to you. Taking the time to understand these topics will help ensure your business stays compliant and successful!
8. Shipping Costs
- Not Offering Free Shipping: While this may seem counterintuitive, it’s important to note that customers often prefer free shipping over a lower product cost. If you can do so, offering free delivery is one way to increase your customer satisfaction and loyalty levels.
- Ignoring International Customers: Depending on the size of your business, it can be easy to forget about new opportunities for growth overseas. Ensure you include reasonable international shipping costs in your pricing structure if you tap into these markets.
- Forgetting About Refunds: It’s not uncommon for customers to return their purchases or demand an exchange if something goes wrong with their order. Make sure you have clear policies regarding returns and refunds before your customers start making purchases.
- Failing to Consider Shipping Providers: Different shipping companies offer different services and rates, so it’s important to research which providers will give you the best deal for your business. You can negotiate better prices with certain carriers if you’re a frequent customer.
- Not Having Flexible Shipping Options: Customers frequently prefer selecting their preferred delivery method during checkout. Make sure you provide them with various payment and shipping options tailored to their needs. This way, they can choose what works best for them without feeling stuck with an inconvenient solution. Doing this will help create a positive impression on your business.
Running an e-commerce store isnâ€™t a piece of cake â€“ but we promise it can be one delicious slice (pun totally intended). You just need to fix the wrong ingredients. From building an online store to minimizing shipping costs, then everything will be sweet.