4 Mistakes Every Ecommerce Entrepreneur Makes (With Solutions)
- By Kayleigh Alexandra
- March 30, 2020
If you don’t make mistakes, then you’re not trying anything new. Mistakes help us learn and grow: we get things wrong, reflect on them, and move ahead. This is certainly true in the world of ecommerce. It’s so broad and complex — and hotly competitive — that it demands experimentation, and you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
When moving ahead, though, you need to correct your course. Making the same mistakes over and over again wastes time, effort, money, and potential (it can hamper or even sink even the most promising business). In this piece, we’re going to detail four mistakes that are incredibly common to the ecommerce industry — and we’ll explain how to resolve them. Let’s begin:
Wasting too much time on pricing
How should you price a given product? It’s vitally important, obviously, because even the smallest change can amount to a huge difference in the long term. Charge too much and you can push shoppers away, ultimately losing their customer to cheaper competitors. Charge too little and you can fail to make the profit you need (and even devalue your brand).
It’s understandable, then, that many entrepreneurs agonize over their pricing — but this is a big mistake. Instead of trying to get it right from the outset, you should start with a healthy profit margin on top of your material and production costs (here are some tips on this), then nudge it down gently until you make some sales.
After that, you can periodically run sales to see how people respond to discounts. You may ultimately want to lower the price permanently if the metrics suggest that you’ll sell more and make more profit overall — but the point is that iteration will allow you to optimize your prices over time, so where you start isn’t so important.
Failing to cover technical SEO basics
Suppose that you set up a strong ecommerce site on a decent platform and populated it with a respectable product range. Would you inevitably start getting organic traffic? Well, no: ranking for commercial terms (even just in the first few pages) is difficult, and it takes investment in SEO — plus plenty of time for Google to suitably assess your site — to get there.
Most ecommerce entrepreneurs accept that it takes time to rank, and no one can simply snap their fingers and get them to “the top of Google” — but it’s quite common for them to overlook the technical basics of SEO and end up undermining their broader efforts. Take page speed, for instance, which is now a core factor in mobile rankings. Many entrepreneurs think that enough content marketing and backlinks can get any site ranking well, but that isn’t true.
The solution is simple here: ensure that all the core elements are covered. A good ecommerce site will load quickly, be fully responsive, feature complete metadata, have a logical navigation and URL structure, and — of course — be fully indexable.
Having bland product presentation
Just having a good range and solid pricing won’t help you stand out — and you do need to stand out, because there are countless online stores and they’re all comparably accessible. You don’t get to benefit from a convenient location in the way that a brick-and-mortar store can. When someone visits your website, will they be compelled to buy from you? If so, why?
The answer, much of the time, is product presentation. An appealing website will keep people around for longer, but it won’t drive them to place orders. It’s what they find on your product pages that will matter: once they’ve navigated to the things they’re looking for, the onus is on your copy (and visual elements) to make the sale.
Focus on making your product pages as good as you can. Your product copy should offer an appropriate tone and cover the right mix of technical details and benefits (here are some great product copy examples). Your product photos must be high-quality and well-lit, and should cover various angles. Be sure to check out comparable product pages on other sites to get an idea of how yours stack up.
Undervaluing post-sale support
Making a sale shouldn’t be the end of your sales process, but it being called the sales process clearly causes some confusion: enough for entrepreneurs to focus obsessively on finding new customers. They end up neglecting their existing customers, leading them to go elsewhere. Meanwhile, they struggle to source replacements, often because their audiences are limited.
Every ecommerce business should focus on customer retention because loyal customers spend more money and drive high-value referrals — and customer retention is driven by excellent customer support, both before and after purchase. To address this issue, view a sale as just another step in the marketing process: the first step towards earning another sale.
Email buyers to thank them for their custom. Offer them assistance. Ask them for feedback on how you’re doing, and action some suggestions to show that you’re serious about improving. Provide long-time customers with meaningful discounts. Anything you can do to make your customer service better will ultimately benefit your business.
These four ecommerce mistakes are extremely common and just as damaging, so it’s vital to the success of your business that you avoid them with great care. If you’ve already made some or all of them, there’s no need to panic (as noted, mistakes are valuable): simply use the identified solutions to turn things around.