E-commerce is a section of the business world that continues to grow and really shows no signs of stopping. Everyone is trying to get their piece of the pie, which means that it’s starting to become a bit crowded. Whether you own a company that recently switched from in-store to online sales or you’re an up-and-coming startup, there’s a chance you’re not finding the success that everyone else seems to be talking about.
First off, we want to reassure you that this is normal. Companies don’t magically find success overnight when selling online—you’ll still need to put in the effort. That’s why we’re here to help you better understand the common struggles of getting your online business off the ground. By reviewing these, we hope it’ll help you determine what you’ve done wrong and find ways to fix it.
Targeting the Wrong Markets
Even though we’re sure you did a good amount of market research before putting your business online, targeting the wrong markets is a common mistake many companies make. It’s more common with brand-new businesses, but preexisting companies who recently switched to e-commerce can make this mistake too.
The reason for this is online customers aren’t the same as your local ones. There are regional differences and broader demographics you must consider. Small towns typically aren’t representative of general populations as a whole. That means you might need to refocus your targeting and redo your market research to see who might be interested in your products.
Another common targeting issue is when a company tries to hit a broad range of customers. No matter what you sell, your target audience will never be everyone. People are diverse and have many different needs. Trying to sell your product to uninterested parties will waste your precious time and money. Plus, you might miss out on consumers who would be interested but don’t feel like the product is for them because your marketing materials are too broad.
Failure To Draw in Enough Traffic
Even if your targeting is on point, there’s always a chance that you’re not drawing in enough traffic to sustain your business. Obviously, spending little to no time marketing your business is the biggest reason for this issue, but that’s easy to fix. A more difficult problem you might struggle with is enticing your target audience.
Simply showing off your products and expecting people to show up and buy them won’t cut it most of the time. You must create eye-catching ads that convince viewers that your products are worth their money. Whether you do that through clever marketing or competitive pricing is up to you, but if you don’t convince people that your e-commerce site is worth visiting, they won’t waste their time checking it out.
Poor Website Design and Optimization
Once you’ve cleared the hurdle of getting people to your site, you need to ensure you don’t immediately drive them away. High bounce rates are prominent killers of many online storefronts. While many things could push a consumer away, such as false advertising or outrageous prices, one of the biggest issues that cause people to leave is poor website design and optimization.
With the e-commerce market being as competitive as it is, you must make a good first impression. That means flashy colors and graphics, as well as a clean and concise layout. Once you’ve caught the consumer’s eye, you must clearly present who you are, what you sell, and how to acquire it. If people can’t figure out what to do or where to go next, they’ll be more likely to leave than stay and figure it out.
This also applies to the background elements of your site. If your e-commerce store is poorly optimized, people will quickly lose interest. Slow-loading pages and endless page hopping to get where they need to go will become tedious for most visitors. Knowing the key components of user-friendly website navigation will help fix some of these issues. But sometimes, a whole website overhaul will be in order. Also, if you fail to optimize for mobile—which around half of online shoppers use regularly—most people won’t spend more than 10 seconds on your site.
Doing Too Much on Your Own
Most of the previously mentioned struggles of getting your online business off the ground come from a lack of knowledge or experience. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s important to realize that even the best businesspeople are prone to having trouble launching an online business. The reason for this is it’s entirely possible to do too much at once.
Whether you’re doing this entirely on your own or have a few employees you work with, effectively marketing a product line and running an e-commerce site is very difficult to do on your own. That’s not even including all the other parts of running a business that you likely do regularly. Even though doing everything in-house is a great way to save money, it’s usually not a viable system.
That’s why you should look into hiring outside help. No matter what kind of marketing or website curating you need, there will be an agency that can help you out. Trying to do it all yourself will cause you to fall behind, hindering your sales potential even if you start finding success. Once things are under control, you can find the time to hire more employees and create a dedicated team that can bring these services back in-house.
Over- or Undervaluing Your Products
When it comes to pricing, you obviously want to ensure you’re making a profit. Sometimes, it’s okay to sell something at a loss, but you’ll need to find other ways to make that money back as with profitable product additions or a subscription service.
Regardless of how you make your money, you must also consider how your customers will perceive it when determining its price. By charging too much for your products, your customers might not think they’re worth the investment, especially if you haven’t proven to them that your brand doesn’t provide enough value for the cost.
Of course, the opposite is also true. It’s possible to undervalue your products as well. Being the least expensive option on the market isn’t always ideal. Consumers might see your products as cheap and a waste of money. It might take some time to figure out your products’ ideal price points, but if you’re not making sales, this might be why.
Ignoring Customer Demands
While this may seem like an obvious mistake, one common thing too many newer businesses do is ignore customer demands. Even though the customer most certainly isn’t always right, there are still times when they are. The businesses that make this mistake are typically the ones that hear the complaints but completely ignore them. Sometimes, that’s due to arrogance, while at other times, it has to do with differing viewpoints, but if a majority of your current customers agree that you’re doing something wrong, it might be worth hearing them out.
However, sometimes this issue exists because the demands fall on deaf ears. When selling online, the only place for consumers to voice their complaints is on the internet. If your business doesn’t give them an official outlet to tell you what they think of your products, it’ll be up to you to search online and discover them yourself. Many people flock to social media to complain about bad experiences, but review sites and online forums are also common places for these interactions. If you don’t take the time to find them, you’ll never learn about what you might be doing wrong.
Doom From the Start
In the end, some businesses simply face doom from the start. It could be because of poor marketing, a flawed product, or even mismanagement on your part. Regardless of what the reason might be, owning up to it and knowing when to call it quits will save you lots of time and, more importantly, money.
This doesn’t have to be the end, though. Figuring out your mistakes is simply the start of a new beginning. You can make corrections, start a new company, and try again. In some cases, you might even be able to revive the old one, but if it truly never took off, it might not be worth the effort.
Either way, the key to being an entrepreneur is coming to terms with the fact that not all businesses will succeed. However, if you take what you learned from your failed business, you can avoid the same struggles that plagued you the first time and stand a much better chance of getting your new company off the ground.