Starting your own ecommerce business can be challenging. Between nailing your marketing and actually building your store, it’s easy to make a mistake or two from time to time.
One wrong step and you could see your sales plummet — but most rookie mistakes are easily avoidable.
To help you tread the fine line of ecommerce success, we’ve highlighted five of the most common mistakes first-time entrepreneurs make (and how to avoid them too).
1. Not Doing Your Keyword Research
The key to online retail success in 2018 is keyword research.
When your customers start on their buyer journey, they use search engines as their jumping off point. That means you need to research your business niche and identify the keywords that your customers are using. By using the same words and phrases that they’re likely to identify with, you can help drive ultra-relevant traffic to your store.
Keyword research can also help you evaluate the market you occupy. By identifying popular or unpopular keywords, you can get a good feel for whether or not your product or service is in demand. It’s also a great way to size up the potential competition and spot any opportunities they aren’t currently making the most of.
How To Avoid It
Knowing the terms your customers use lets you use the right language throughout your webstore and product descriptions, improving your chances of appearing in searches. Yes, work on your branding and messaging too — but don’t do it to the detriment of your SEO results.
- Use Google Trends to establish market viability and longevity.
- Use a free or affordable keyword research tool to research your niche and get hold of your so-called ‘seed’ words.
- Use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify keyword difficulty and search volume to help you determine the competitiveness of your target market and forecast your marketing.
2. No Customer Service Plan
Today’s online consumers are always plugged in, shopping 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Ecommerce stores are always open, and that means you need to implement a good customer service plan that addresses your customers needs quickly and thoroughly.
Last year, more than half of America’s consumers had abandoned a purchase due to bad customer service. Don’t lose sales through poor service and create a solid customer relationship plan today!
How To Avoid It
First, identify how your customers can get in touch with you. Social media is one of the most popular methods, but it’s also important to have a 1-800 phone number (if you can afford the time) or a web form too. If you can afford it, it’s also worth looking into installing a chatbot to your online store to deal with customer queries while you’re asleep. There are plenty of affordable AI assistants available too if you’re on a budget.
Next, create some stock answer templates so you’re ready to deal with the most common complaints and queries such as deliveries, sizes (where applicable), discount codes, and so on. It’ll take a bit of work at first, but it’ll save you time and hassle in the long run.
3. No Mobile Optimization
It’s estimated that by the end of 2018, mobile devices will account for 27% of all ecommerce sales made in the US, constituting 1 out of every 4 ecommerce dollars spent. That figure is only set to rise as time goes on, as mobile devices become more accessible and sophisticated.
The fact of the matter is this: if your online store isn’t optimized for mobile devices, then it will negatively impact your sales. Shoppers today demand a seamless experience across a range of devices, and if they find your store is cumbersome and difficult to use on their mobile, they won’t stick around.
How To Avoid It
Before your site goes live (and even afterward), test it to make sure it’s mobile-friendly. If you’re using a dedicated estore builder, they often come with ready-made themes that work across a range of devices. There are also plenty of theme stores offering responsive designs for your store too. But if you’re building it yourself, you’ll need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly yourself. Use a Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to check, and do check it yourself on a mobile phone and tablet device just to make sure the site looks good to human eyes as well.
4. Paying Needlessly for a Custom Ecommerce Store
If you’re a novice to the world of ecommerce, it can be tempting to pay big bucks for a custom ecommerce builder. The more you pay, the better it must be, right? But in all truth, paying for development work is only really beneficial if you’re an experienced entrepreneur or you have very specific requirements for your store. You’re starting your enterprise on a budget, so you need to decide what works for you, your business, and your finances.
How To Avoid It
There’s a great selection of DIY budget webshop builders available online, and they often come with excellent resources to help you build your online store. If this is your first foray into online entrepreneurship, it might be worth sticking to a DIY builder. Not only do you get tutorials and guidance online, but there are also support teams and a huge community to help resolve any issues you might face. WooCommerce is an open-source favorite and really cheap to set up and run.
5. No Social Media Presence
Social media is an integral part of shoppers’ ecommerce experience in 2018, with social selling forming a core component of a brand’s strategy. Businesses that implement a solid and consistent social selling process are 40% more likely to hit sales goals than those without.
And on top of that, social media is a great way to propagate your brand and connect with your customers. By building a genuine, two-way relationship with your audience on the platforms where they are active most, you can help bolster your brand and create loyal customers.
How to avoid it
It’s clear that if your business hasn’t put a solid social media strategy into place, you’ll be left behind. Create business pages across a range of social platforms and share blogs, videos, and other forms of content, as well as responding to comments regularly to stay connected with your audience.
And it’s also crucial that you use every social selling function available to you too. This includes Instagram’s Shoppable Posts, Pinterest’s Buyable Pins, and Facebook Stores. These allow shoppers to make purchases without ever leaving the app, creating a seamless shopping experience that’s guaranteed to up your customer experience game.
Forewarned is forearmed, and the lessons above should provide you with enough guidance to steer a clear course through your first ecommerce business. Learn from the mistakes of others and build a solid ecommerce strategy that will see you right.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of the startup tools blog series Start Your Business brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.