You're a beginner.
You may not even remember the last time you had to do something as ambitious as take on a project of this magnitude. Every time you try to explain your idea to one of your friends or family members, they simply sigh and tell you good luck with a sense of no confidence in their voice.
That's the world of ecommerce, so welcome aboard!
It's a strenuous life to begin your own online shop, but if you put in the effort, and prepare for some of the major problems that are guaranteed to come around, you'll find the experience rewarding, both financially and mentally.
Let's say you've thought of a cool new design for basketball sneakers and you'd like to see how they sell through an online shop. You and your business partner put together a few finished products and sell them to local shops. Now that you've seen people like the designs, it's time to launch online.
Sounds like an awesome plan, but don't get ahead of yourself just yet. It's imperative to realize that problems are going to arise in the future. Whether big or small, they are lurking around the corner to knock your business to the ground, so it's wise to prepare a plan for each ecommerce problem you can run into as a beginner. Keep reading to learn about these obstacles.
A Lack of Urgency from Customers
Not every product is going to land well with your customers, but you have two situations where your customers simply aren't showing any urgency to buy your products. The first is during the initial phases when you're struggling to get those first few sales. This is a tough obstacle, but it generally has something to do with the way you're marketing your product.
The second situation entails a more established product that is starting to see a decline in sales, where you're noticing that people aren't as quick to buy the product as they were before.
If you're still fishing for those first few sales, take a look at your marketing strategy and make some adjustments. Are your search engine or social media ads not getting bites? Would you be better off going to events that would promote your product a little better?
In terms of revitalizing a more established product, it's all about urgency. The point of your website should be to show your customers that they need to buy your product now. Consider urgency tactics such as timers, free shipping for a certain time and limited inventory counts. These trigger emotions in your users that they need to take out their wallets immediately.
Misleading Product and Website Data
There will come a time when you look at your analytics and realize that one of your products is performing better than the rest. Whether it's a miscalculation on your part, or a situation where the reports put way too much of the spotlight on a single product, you could find yourself hurting sales in other departments.
Your best bet is to hire someone who understands ecommerce analytics. don't make assumptions until you've at least run your reports through a few people who can come back and help make the choice with you. Completely getting rid of a product because of a bad quarter could hurt you in the long run if you didn't realize that it tends to perform better during, say, the holiday season.
Industry Changes That Make Your Products Obsolete
From landline phones to VCRs, so many businesses have relied on products that eventually went by the wayside. It's part of doing business, but some companies are able to go with the changes, while others fail and sink. Which will you be?
Pivot your strategy to start figuring out which products you can introduce to your store that can replace the obsolete items. Consider options that align with your current strategy, and start introducing the products to customers as if you're the saving grace to replace that obsolete product they bought from you in the past.
Competitors Who Try to Undercut You
It's going to happen. Some company is going to steal your idea, start selling the same products or make something that's similar. How do you go about fighting these actions?
If a company straight out stole your idea, it's time to take legal action. Go to a lawyer to check out your options. However, fair competition is a different story, since you need to start thinking of ways to standout against the competition. What do you offer that your competitor does not? Do you offer free shipping? Is your customer support better? Do you have packages that provide discounts for bundled items? What about a solid blog or membership program?
Not Being Able to Handle All the Support Traffic
At some point you're going to be overwhelmed with the amount of people who call, email or chat with you to ask questions or complain about your products.
Start hiring a team of support representatives as soon as possible. Your team doesn't have to be huge. It may just be you and a buddy, but this is better than just you. Also, find a customer management system that combines all your support outlets into one. It's much easier to reply to Facebook and email messages on one screen than two.
Finding That Your Ecommerce Platform Doesn't Have a Few Features You Need
Whether you go with Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, Bigcommerce or one of the hundreds of other ecommerce solutions, you may encounter a time when a feature isn't provided for you to scale up and make your business better.
Start by looking for plugins you can download to resolve the problem. For example, just because Shopify doesn't have a robust email marketing system doesn't mean you can't find one in the app store. If this isn't the case, you may have to migrate your shop to a more suitable option. For example, some people find that they need to migrate from a place like Volusion to Shopify. This is just an example, but most platforms have procedures to make a seamless transition.
Whether selling jewelry designed for kids or large machinery lubricants to companies all over the world, everyone starts at the beginning. If you're nervous about beginning your ecommerce journey, fret not. Use this article to understand what obstacles lay ahead, and think about your plan to overcome each one as they come along.
If you're a more experienced ecommerce professional and would like to share some stories about the problems you've faced, leave a comment in the section below. We love hearing your stories!
Feature image curtsey of ARM Sattavorn