eCommerce startups: 10 pitfalls that can doom your businessNitin Srivastava
A startup, especially in the eCommerce industry is not rewarding right from the very beginning. There will be hurdles and mistakes that will stop you from reaching your goals. Failures definitely provide you the opportunity to start-over in a better way. However, in the jam-packed eCommerce industry, you may not get a second chance. As per studies, 74% of the startups fail due to premature scaling and 29% of startups run out of cash in the initial phase itself. This might give an overview of how difficult it is to survive in the industry despite the ease of doing business and technological advancements.
A budding entrepreneur might wonder what is that the eCommerce giants did that they are holding the gears in the industry. The reason lies in the details! The factor that separates them from their competitors is the fact they don’t ignore even the smallest aspect. As even a negligible mistake may prove hazardous in the cut-throat competitive and customer-centric industry.
What are the common pitfall that leads to the failure of the eCommerce startups?
Wonder what went wrong for the companies that started off well, but could not survive for long? Here is a list of 10 mistakes that mostly eCommerce startups overlook and find themselves in the eyes of the storm.
Wrong eCommerce platform
With the availability of open-source CMS platform, creating an eCommerce store has become way easier than it was earlier. Platforms like BigCommerce, Prestashop, Magento, Shopify, and others can help you design your dream shopping site. However, not choosing the right platform might be considered the biggest mistake as a startup.
Consider your business model and choose the platform that serves your purpose in the best possible way. Every CMS platform has its own perk. For instance, Shopify is undoubtedly the best platform when to come to building an online store. The CMS platform has over 120,000 customers and comes with built-in marketing tools. Similarly, WooCommerce can help you give a classy look to your shopping site. In case, you are planning to take your business on the global platform, then, Prestashop might be a solution for you for the multi-lingual compatibility that it offers. Hence, not analyzing the offerings of the platform with respect to your requirement might prove disastrous. Additionally, switching the platform later becomes even difficult.
Not finding the niche
Not identifying the target customer base is another basic mistake that might doom your business in the initial phase itself. Not having a target audience or targetting the customer base that is tough to reach is the main reason that leads to the failure of startups even before they kickstart.
No matter what your marketing strategy you make, it should be focused around the target customers. In fact, the business plan should be determined once you have identified your target group.
Make sure that you have the core knowledge of the products/services that you are offering. Then, identify the purpose it serves and who will be using them.
Do extensive research of the demographics that you are targeting.
Analyze their purchase behavior and see what they mostly do while surfing the internet. Identify the reason why they are looking for the product/service that you are offering. This analysis will even help you figure out your competitors.
Once you have done your market research, create a marketing that appeals to them. Additionally, keep your strategies flexible enough to accommodate any sort of changes as the purchase behavior and requirement of the customers might change over a period of time.
Not securing early stage investment
90% of the startups fail because they lose the sight of their long-term goals. Not securing their early stage investment is another reason that might contribute to your failure. As mentioned above, 29% of the startups run out of money right at the beginning of their career.
Keep calculating the ROI right from the beginning. Do not get blinded by the small return that you are getting initially. Make sure that you are scaling the early investments.
Improper SEO strategies
Even a perfectly designed and developed website may fail to give you the desired results if it is not visible to the target customer base. As per studies, 99% of the online shoppers will click the first links that they in the Google's SERP and won't go any further. Hence, giving less importance to SEO once they have grabbed the attention of their target audience is another blunder committed by most of the startups.
SEO is an on-going process. Google’s ranking keeps on changing, so, you should never lose your focus on the SEO aspect.
Even the customers seek well-written descriptions and informative content at the site. The website’s content should be curated as per the expectation of the customers. The search behavior of the online shoppers is changing as well.
The SEO strategies should be created according. Along with the focused keywords, ensure that you include the long-tail keywords and the queries that your customers are searching for. As per Google, the search volume of queries like “Top 5”, “Best product” is on the rise. Make sure that such queries are there in the content. This will optimize your position in the Google’s SERP.
The location-based searches have increased as well. The customers tend to search for keywords like “Service center near me”. So, the optimization techniques and the content curation should be done accordingly.
Too much dependence on advertisements
Just focusing on online paid, TV and newspaper ads might reap results in the beginning, but it may even backfire in the long run. Complete dependence on the ads has been the reason for the failure of the startups that had a good start.
There are bigger companies in the industry that have the ability to invest more than you do. If they replace you in this field, you will be left with no other option. So, investment in multi-channel marketing will open you up to more opportunities. Moreover, there will be chances of recovering if you fail in any single channel. Invest in SEO and marketplace in order to expand your reach. Go for multi-channel selling as it offers you a readymade market. For instance, selling your products on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and others can help you find the customer base worldwide.
Not having enough social media reach
Not having a strong and positive social media presence may create a negative impact on your business. Social media is a key factor that influences the purchase behavior of the shoppers. When you fail to create followers on the social media platforms, you to create the trust in the long run.
Start building your brand image on the various social media platform even before you are ready to launch your site. Make sure that you figure out where your target customer is.
Focus on the platform that is being used more prominently by your potential customers. Even when you have good enough followers, do not stop engaging them.
The memory of the customers are very short and you need to keep them reminding about yourselves. Post engaging contents that the customers find appealing.
Handle the reviews and complaints of the shoppers efficiently. Ignoring them will definitely cripple some of your easy conversions.
Deployment before testing
Online sales are bound to increase with time and so will the online businesses. The worth of eCommerce industry was $161 billion at the end of 2016, is set to jump to $319 billion by 2020. This fact might bedazzle most of the startups and they might end-up ignoring the importance of testing. Hurrying with the deployment of the online store part without testing the fundamentals of the website may not affect your business initially. However, by the time this aspect starts creating the damage, it might get too late to recover.
Before you make the site live, ensure that you have beta tested it properly. A/B testing and Heatmap testing might help you identify the pitfalls of your site that even the techies might fail to identify. Just testing the technical aspects and the basic functioning of the site is enough.
It should be developed keeping in mind the factors that affect the SEO. Moreover, it should be designed keeping in mind the user behavior. A/B testing will help you find the right elements of the site that offer a better result. At the same time, heat map testing will help you spot the factors that are creating a positive or negative impact on your site.
Ignoring the importance of analytics
Ignoring the statistical report and the analytics of the site is the biggest mistake that the newbies in this industry commit. The small insights that these analytical report shows may turn the fortune of your business.
Remember you are working in the virtual world where you get to see and meet your customers. This makes data precious for the eCommerce store owners. The answer to most of your questions lies in the analytics of your site. Setup your Google Analytic right in the beginning. Keep an eye on the reports. This will provide you an insight of the visitor’s behaviors, what they are liking and what they are not. Keep improvising the UI, UX of your site as well as your marketing and SEO strategies as per the reports.
Not embracing the m-commerce industry
In 2017, mobile shopping was the fastest growing segment that saw a growth of 54%. It will grow even further in the future. With the increasing prominence of mobile over desktop computers, a responsive site is more than just a necessity. Most of the eCommerce startups fail to survive in the competitive ecosystem as they ignore the importance of m-commerce and just stick to eCommerce.
Making the site mobile-responsive is the very thing that you need to consider during the development phase. Google has recently rolled out the Speed update that considers page speed in mobile search ranking.
Just having a responsive site is not enough. Studies have proved that the shopping apps have an edge over the mobile sites. Create an intuitive mobile with an eCommerce mobile app builder and tap the mobile-first customer base.
Not paying attention to retargeting
It's a proven fact that the purchase decision-making process of the customers is quite tedious. They won't purchase anything from your store in the first go. On an average, 98% of the customers will leave without purchasing from your site during the initial phase of your business. The abandoned cart and high bounce rate don't mean that the chances of conversions are gone. However, ignoring them might affect your overall revenue. Not focusing on re-targeting and reaching out to the store visitors as well as old customers will definitely impact your business in the long run.
Keep a track of the old customers and stay in touch with them through email marketing and on the social network sites.
Track the browsing behavior of store visitor and analyze the same. Remarket your products to them as per their purchase behavior. See the products they are interested in the web pages that they are browsing and create the marketing strategy accordingly.
Do not consider the abandoned cart as lost lead. Offers discounts and keep them reminding about the left products in the cart.
The relationship with your customer should not end even after the conversion. Stay in touch with them via the various marketing tool.
The most common mistakes are the one that is the most ignored by the newbies of the industry. Are you planning to start an eCommerce store? Read the stories of the site owners who have already established themselves in the industry and try to learn from their mistakes. Keep in mind these common pitfalls and you'll definitely take your business to the new heights.