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magento & ecommerce

10 Mistakes That Can Break an eCommerce Startup

Thanks to the wide variety of content management systems (CMS) available today, setting up a functional eCommerce website is simpler than it has ever been before. However, just because you have a site in place, doesn’t mean that it is going to experience success.

eCommerce is an exceptionally competitive landscape, with companies large and small competing for limited web real estate to ensure their products gain the exposure they need to achieve sales. Startup companies, in particular, have it tough as they need to break into established markets, often while working with limited budgets.

As such, every mistake made can cost money and potentially sink an eCommerce venture. Here are 10 blunders that your startup should avoid at all costs.

1. Not Doing the Math

Thanks to the wide variety of content management systems (CMS) available today, setting up a functional eCommerce website is simpler than it has ever been before.

You may have a good product but if the demand isn’t there or it retails at too low a price you will find that you struggle to gather a return on investment. Failing to consider the three key factors of demand, revenue, and expenses when calculating how successful your venture will be will often lead to failure. Expenses, in particular, will mount up as you invest more into advertising, so be sure that the product you sell can actually recoup the amount it costs to make it available in the first place.

2. Poor Inventory

eCommerce websites allow sellers the opportunity to advertise as many products as they want, thus offering consumers greater choice. This is wonderful, assuming that you can actually get those products to your consumers within the timeframes your website sets. Many startup businesses set out to offer as much variety as possible without factoring in how they will maintain their inventories and ensure their products are available, resulting in disappointed customers who generate negative word of mouth that can break an eCommerce site as people will generally check reviews before shopping.

3. Poor Navigational Design

If website users can’t find what they are looking for quickly, they will leave your eCommerce site in short order. Navigation becomes a major issue as more products are added, meaning it is crucial that the site has a range of navigational features, including proper categorization, breadcrumbs, and a search bar, to help people find what they’re looking for. Further, shoppers using mobile devices now account for over 50 percent of eCommerce sales, so failure to optimize site design and navigation towards mobile users means the site will miss out on a large potential audience.

4. No Digital Marketing Strategy

Thanks to the wide variety of content management systems (CMS) available today, setting up a functional eCommerce website is simpler than it has ever been before.

How are people going to find your eCommerce website? If you don’t have an answer to that question, it is likely the venture will fail before it gets off the ground. No eCommerce site should launch without a defined marketing strategy that covers paid advertising, search engine optimization, and techniques for keeping customers loyal and encouraging them to share what the site has to offer with others, primarily using social media.

5. Not Finding a Niche

The competitive nature of eCommerce has already been highlighted, but it is something that startup companies underestimate time and time again. Your site needs to find a niche that makes it stand out. This could be anything from offering faster delivery or charging lower prices to offering products that larger sites in the same industry don’t stock. Whatever your niche is, capitalize on it by placing it front and center in your branding efforts, else you may find your site falls by the wayside.

6. Technical Issues

One bad line of code has the potential to scupper the entire site and with so many options out there it only takes one issue for a customer to bounce away from the site and explore other options. This means an eCommerce startup needs to ensure every key process works as it should, especially when it comes to the actual purchasing of items.

7. Poor Security

Thanks to the wide variety of content management systems (CMS) available today, setting up a functional eCommerce website is simpler than it has ever been before.

Every eCommerce startup should consider the assurances it offers to customers that any data they submit via the site will stay secure at every stage of the purchasing process. Failure to create a strong privacy policy that defines what you do with data and how you protect it can lead to people not trusting the site, resulting in fewer purchases. Even something as simple as not implementing the HTTPS protocol, which demonstrates that the connection is encrypted using transport layer security (TLS), on data capture and payment pages can create major security flaws that malicious people will exploit.

8. Bad Images

Have you ever visited an eCommerce website and seen an array of stock images coupled with extremely shoddy product pictures? Would you buy from that website? The answer is probably no, so you shouldn’t expect customers to buy from yours if you don’t take the time to create good images. Focus on clarity and define standards in regards to image quality and size, as poor images suggest an eCommerce site has been put together quickly and with little care for the customer experience.

9. A Poorly Managed Email List

Encouraging site users to send their email addresses to your business is good. Having no idea what to do with those email addresses once you have them is a problem. Any site user who sends such details across expects to receive newsletters and notifications relating to new products, so make sure you have a plan in place to define how you will leverage your email list. Further, always respect the wishes of those who want removal from the list, else you run the risk of creating the negative word of mouth that can break a startup.

10. Not Having a Content Marketing Strategy

Thanks to the wide variety of content management systems (CMS) available today, setting up a functional eCommerce website is simpler than it has ever been before.

Without supporting content, an eCommerce site is going to miss out on organic and social traffic that may otherwise have been drawn to the site via the information it provides. Further, a poorly implemented content strategy can be just as damaging as not having one at all. Failure to consider the audience you write for and the devices they use to view your content makes said content less effective in regards to convincing shoppers to make purchases.

Always Consider the User

An eCommerce startup that fails to consider the end user in everything it does is liable to break sooner rather than later. Everything from the design of the website through to its accessibility on mobile devices needs to be considered during the development process, as does the site’s marketing strategy, security features, and overall presentation.

By avoiding these mistakes, an eCommerce startup ensures its website is clear, simple to navigate, and offers the protections required by customers to ensure they feel safe when shopping.

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By interactivated • on June 27, 2017

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