Creating an online store is quite common today. It seems like an attractive way to start selling because it requires less initial investment than a physical store. Do you agree?

However, no matter how good the value for money of your products or services may be, you are not guaranteed success without an optimized website that responds to a well-defined marketing strategy. In other words, being present on the internet is not enough to sell.

It is common for those who start an e-commerce project to perform bad practices, and that is why so many online stores do not succeed. But our intention is not to become negative or weaken, quite the opposite.

Knowing the most frequent mistakes when creating an online store, which I review in this article, is the first step to avoid them. This way you will be a little more prepared to take off. After all, there are also online stores that over time manage to become profitable.

Creating An Online Store? 8 Critical eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Online

Let’s take a look at the top glitches much beginning online store owners fall into, let’s get started!

1) Create false expectations in business planning

As I said in the introduction, the statistics are not very promising: it is estimated that 85% of online stores close before two years. Behind this data is the difficulty of maintaining the business, but also the false expectations and the lack of patience. The complexity of a virtual business is underestimated.

It will be very difficult for an e-commerce website to generate profitability in the first years of life and not everyone is ready to face this adversity. Good online store planning requires a time horizon of at least three to five years.

It is important that you stop and define the business plan for an online store with the same thoroughness as you would for a physical store.

The lack of budget planning is a very common error associated with false expectations. If you launch an e-commerce website and see that in the first months you do not obtain profitability, two situations may arise:

  • You do not have a budget planning prepared in advance, the situation generates uncertainty and you end up closing the store.
  • Before starting the e-commerce project, you have taken your time to develop a business plan and compare it, so you have expected these situations and are more prepared to respond to them.

Realistic planning does not guarantee success, but without it, it will be difficult for you to achieve it.

2) Underestimating the importance of content marketing

Creating content on your website, in addition to selling, is an excellent idea. And it is that in a world with so many motives as the current one, nobody likes to feel that they are selling something directly, but they establish a relationship with him in which the sale of products is just one more part.

In addition to publicizing your products, a good marketing strategy can create additional value with content such as the following:

  • Solutions to the problems that users may encounter in their day-to-day. For example, for a store related to the kitchen sector: the recipe for a cooking sauce that keeps longer and can be used in different dishes, thus saving time.
  • Tutorials, in textual or video format. For example: for a DIY business, a tutorial for hanging a flower pot on the wall.
  • Free resources, like ebooks, webinars, etc. For example: for an online cosmetic store, a live makeup masterclass.

Thus, with a good content strategy not focused solely on sales, you will be able to position yourself in the medium and long term as a reference brand in your sector. It will be important to avoid the generic and offer original content adapted to your audience.

Sometimes you can find websites that produce interesting content but difficult to understand for most people. It is important to demonstrate to consumers that you are an expert on the subject, but without abusing complexity and with a pedagogical approach if you tackle complicated subjects, especially in B2C (Business to Consumers) industries.

3) Not precisely defining the target audience

Before starting your marketing strategy, it will be important to define your target audience well. A common mistake when creating an online store is to think that “the more the merrier”, wanting to address everyone. But in general, it is a bad idea. It is better to convince profiles of specific people, especially in the initial phase of activity, and then open yourself to a wider audience.

In this way, by selling in smaller circles, you will favor “word of mouth”. In addition, if you have dedicated time and resources to accurately identify your target audience, you will have more keys to guide the style and tone of your messages.

To concretely define the target audience, in marketing the buyer persona model is used. It consists of identifying one or a few person models that could be customers of your online store and analyzing them based on:

  • Your demographic data (age, gender, geographic location, purchasing power …)
  • Your shopping habits (all year round or at certain times, at certain hours of the day, certain days of the week …)
  • Their browsing habits (what device they use, what web pages or social networks they visit before reaching your e-commerce site …)

4) Insufficient effort to retain leads

Electronic commerce has its advantages, but also its drawbacks. In a physical store, you can make contact with the people who visit you. Even if they do not buy anything at the time, it is possible to converse with them and leave their mark in a way that the virtual world does not allow.

Some online store owners place a lot of importance on the traffic figures provided by Google Analytics and forget that they are just the tip of the iceberg. Visits to the website are the first phase of the conversion funnel, but most of these visitors do not stay to buy. It is estimated that, on average, only 1.56% of visits end in sales.

Therefore, in e-commerce, it is necessary to redouble these lead retention efforts to compensate for the lack of physical contact. The newsletters, pop-ups, coupons, live chat (with bots and/or real people, depends on your resources), etc. All these methods serve to optimize the conversion of visitors into customers. To see what works best in each case, you will need to test with measurable results.

However, an important warning that must be taken into account in all marketing actions: do not be too pushy. You will have to find the ideal frequency to send your emails or for your pop-ups to appear. Otherwise, you run the risk of saturation and your prospects escaping instead of staying.

5) Lack of stock planning

Maintaining the balance between planned sales and merchandise acquisitions is not always easy. On the one hand, it is important to meet consumer expectations. If a product is no longer available or cannot be delivered as quickly, as usual, it is necessary to report it before making the purchase.

The opposite is a negative user experience that can easily backfire on your business. Not only will the customer making the purchase be dissatisfied (even if you refund the money, the inconvenience is inevitable), but they can also talk about it with other people.

In addition to informing about the stock of products in real-time, the “Out of Stock” label on products should also be avoided as much as possible. In e-commerce, customers often visit the web, are interested in a product, and return after a few days to buy it.

At the same time, it is necessary to have the minimum possible quantity in the warehouse that allows guaranteeing stocks, especially if your products have an expiration date or are evolving quickly. To find this balance, it is necessary to measure different variables, for example:

  • Rotation between acquisitions and sales of each product.
  • Cost (monetary and space) of keeping the product stored.
  • Sales peaks (Christmas, Black Friday, etc.).
  • Ability to order or manufacture new products quickly if they are out of stock, warehouse organization (by size, product category, etc.).

If you offer services instead of physical products, this aspect can be greatly simplified. However, it is also necessary to provide an efficient system (prior appointment, registration for a session, etc.) to reserve it.

6) Not giving enough value to the image or the explanatory content

It is not enough to have a valuable product: you have to make it visible. This premise, applicable to marketing in general, is intensified in electronic commerce. To do this, it is necessary to find the ideal balance between image and text: it is necessary to offer the necessary information to the user without overloading it. This balance will depend on the target audience and the type of products you sell.

  • If the main value of your products is in its design, it will be a good idea to take care of the design of the web and give more influence to the images.
  • If the value of your products resides more in their essential qualities than in their design, it may be a good idea to leave more space for text, graphics, or explanatory tables that explain to the potential customer what the product can contribute.

Infographics or short videos are also often quite helpful in communicating the value of a product. Remember the importance of linking the value of your products with a more global content marketing strategy, as I explain in point number two.

Anyway, the image has great value on all e-commerce websites. It is important to take care of the photography: find the correct lighting, use a tripod, place a white background, etc. When the images are uploaded to the web, it is also convenient that the visitor can zoom in on them to appreciate all the details of the product.

7) Not optimizing navigation

When you create a website, whether it is generalist or e-commerce, it is a product that you have a fondness for. You know well where each product and each section is located and you can spend long hours browsing through it. But that is not the case for future visitors. If they don’t find what they are looking for the first time, it will be difficult for them to give you a second chance.

A key element to organize the navigation of your online store are the product categories, that is, the “shelves” of the store. It is important to classify your products in categories that are intuitive for visitors to find what they are looking for. I must insist once again on the need to put yourself in the mind of the consumer: the way you classify the products in your mind may not coincide with theirs.

To optimize navigation on an e-commerce website, it is not enough to identify each product category with one word and let the visitor guess the rest. On each specific category page, the user should see at a glance exactly what type of products it includes and to what extent they fit their needs, as well as examples of items that can be compared with each other.

Also, remember the importance of heat maps when planning web browsing. They are the graphics that identify the points where the view is placed first on a web page: usually at the top slightly to the left, and then it scrolls through the product rows and the left side menu. Remember to place the products that offer the most conversion possibilities in view.

8) Make payment difficult

At first glance, it may seem like a difficult mistake to make, why would an online store make it difficult for someone who wants to buy to make a payment? However, this process is much more complex than it seems. In fact, no less than two-thirds of online store orders are abandoned at the last minute, when the potential customer had everything ready to pay.

The reasons why an order is not completed are varied, but there are some common features that hinder the checkout process and can be avoided:

  • Force to create a customer account: apparently, it may seem like a good idea because the user will be obliged to leave you an email that you can later use to send them promotions. But what if you don’t want to? Is that worth losing the sale for? It is best to leave the user account optional.
  • Not having a security certificate: naturally, customers are very careful when entering their personal data and their bank card numbers online. Therefore, the absence of a good SSL certificate and a secure protocol (HTTPS) is an unforgivable failure.
  • Unforeseen expenses for the customer: finding last-minute expenses (VAT, shipping, commissions, etc.) just before formalizing the purchase is something that potential consumers do not usually like. What’s more, they are the main reason why an order is abandoned. Showing the full price from the beginning is an exercise in transparency that translates into a better user experience.
  • Lack of payment and collection options: Today there are many payment options, and it is a shame to miss them. Although the bank card is usually the user’s preferred, you should not forget PayPal, ApplePay, Amazon Pay, etc. That may be the differentiating element on which the final decision of the client depends. In the same way, there are different forms of delivery that you must take into account: at home, at a collection point, at the office, etc.

In addition, many potential customers abandon their orders simply because they forget or because they leave them for later. For those cases, the incomplete order reminder emails can be sent in an automated way and usually work quite well.

Conclusion

It is often thought that, since there is no physical location, creating a profitable online store is easy and can be done for free, or almost. The failure figures that I presented when opening this article are due in large part to these beliefs. Nobody would think of opening a physical store without carefully planning how much it will cost: the premises, the Social Security registration, the taxes …

On the other hand, electronic commerce is still relatively young and we must know it in greater depth: it facilitates some aspects of the sale, but also makes others difficult, and being aware of possible weaknesses is essential to face them.

The eight errors in this article cover different phases of the online store project and, of course, depend on each specific case. You may have to pay more attention to one or the other depending on your situation. The important thing is not to neglect any aspect so that your e-commerce project goes ahead and has the results for which you have worked so hard.

Have you felt identified with any of the errors that I have described? If so, how did you deal with them? Tell me about your experience in the comment section! Between all of them, we add!

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