Hi good morning! I will discuss the mistakes most made by owners of online stores, starting their adventure with online trading. Having the knowledge to solve the problems I am discussing is crucial to achieving the profitability of the store and overcoming limitations and barriers, for example, glass ceilings that always appear and prevent further scaling of e-business. If you have your own experience in this topic, share it in the commentary. I invite you to read!

In this article, I will discuss:

  • Inappropriate choice of goods and niches,
  • No competition recognition,
  • Too wide target group,
  • No advertising campaign and marketing strategy,
  • Too low commission on sales,
  • No digital analytics,
  • Bad design and execution of the store,
  • No delegation of tasks and employees from everything,
  • Time of delivery of products,
  • Pre-sale and after-sales service of the customer,
  • Lack of taking care of already acquired clients,
  • Pop-up, cookie, GDPR and web push.

What are the most common mistakes in online trading?

Inappropriate choice of goods and niches

The most common mistake is too wide range of assortment, caused by the assumption that the more items on offer will be, the greater the chance that something will be sold out of it. In practice, it looks like the shop, entering the market with a wide offer, competes with large commerce networks from the very beginning.

Quite often, I hear the opinion that every shop that offers the same products as me is to be considered a competitor. This is not true. Your competitors are companies that want to reach their target group with your offer. This is because customers prefer shopping in stores where the offer is personalized and based on their needs and values. If it were otherwise, all sales would take place via auction websites, and the price would be the only factor deciding on the attractiveness of the offers.

Customers like to shop in specialty stores that have relatively few product types, but with a wide selection of different models. When deciding to operate in a specific niche, you must also remember to check its purchasing potential. For market research, use Google Trends and Keyword Planner with Google Ads.

No competition recognition

If you enter the market with an offer that puts your business in opposition to the leader in the industry and nothing in your store is different from him offer, know that you are already in a lost position at the start.

You should therefore stand out and do something better or differently from your competition, but to be able to do it at all, you should find out who your competitors are and analyze their.

Many entrepreneurs believe that if they offer the same product as their competition and at the same price, then when directing customers to their store, they should buy in it. This is not happening. For the consumer values are important, such as the brand and trust in the e-store.

Too wide target group

The precise determination of the target group for the offer of your store will allow you to select the right channels of communication with customers, which will translate into the profitability of your advertising campaigns. The most common mistake is to qualify every buyer in the online store as the persona of the ideal customer and, on this basis, to create the target group itself.

To determine the optimal target group, you should carry out a market analysis and segment it to separate all existing consumer groups. It’s best to list them and characterize them, then to determine which one is large enough and rich enough to fulfill your sales plans.

Also, do not forget that your values ​​matter, and you must know them to base your offer on them. The better you get to know your customers, the more accurately you will be able to assess their needs and predict behavior. With this knowledge, you will present your product so that the customer acquiring it has the satisfaction and conviction about the correctness of his decision.

No advertising campaign and marketing strategy

An online store needs a steady flow of customers, ie. traffic on the website. For traffic to change into conversions must be directed to the appropriate target group. In the era of changing the concept of a traditional sales funnel into a customer’s ‘shopping journey’, you need to consider various sources of traffic for your store. Of course, the store offer itself must meet expectations and satisfy the needs of customers from a selected group.

In order for advertising campaigns to be successful, you need to know where your clients are and how to reach them. Thanks to this knowledge, you will be able to develop a marketing strategy, which you later analyze and based on the effects, introduce changes to it.

In terms of the advertising campaign itself, the store needs sources of acquiring customers, and where can you get them? I described this in this article.

Too low commission on sales

The lowest price policy can work if you import goods from China. However, how long it will be effective depends on your competition. The fact is that there will always be someone who will offer the same product or its replacement at a much lower price than you. For this reason, being the cheapest on the market should not be a long-term strategy.

However, you do not have to have the lowest prices to have too little commission on the products you sell. This will mean that, after deducting advertising costs, possible commissions for auction sites or other intermediaries as well as the costs of order fulfillment and delivery, the revenue will be negative.

If your strategy takes this fact into account and relies on reactivating your clients so that you can generate another sales while working with them, that’s fine. American online stores, depending on the industry, spend for the first order from 20 to 80 dollars. They only earn on subsequent orders submitted by the customer.

Nevertheless, I know from experience that stores have big problems in establishing cooperation with an already acquired client. Mostly, they restrict communication with client, to sending a non-personalized Newsletter.

No digital analytics

  • A complete lack of analytics on the site,
  • Incorrectly configured digital analytics,
  • Never analyzed data.

In my opinion, the lack of sufficient knowledge is primarily the problem. Entrepreneurs have no idea how to use digital analytics in practice, so they do not pay too much attention to it.

This is a very serious mistake because it does not allow the company to understand the events taking place on the pages of its trading platform. Entrepreneurs also do not know where the customers really come from, not to mention that it is impossible to evaluate marketing activities.

Drawing the right conclusions from the analyzed data is more important than analyzing them. Therefore, if you do not have the time or desire to take care of it personally, send your employee for appropriate training, and then delegate him to this task.

Bad design and execution of the store

Choosing a store platform is important and should be based on the financial capabilities and needs of the e-store. I also encounter such online stores that were created on fully dedicated platforms, in which the introduction of any change, or adapting them to current standards is difficult. The most common reason for this is the lack of willingness to contact or the high costs of implementing from the developer. Typically, this ends with the fact that the client is forced to order the store from scratch, on any of the open source e-commerce platform.

Another increasingly rare problem is the ignoring of mobile devices and the non-responsive store design. Most queries and traffic on the Internet come from mobile devices, failure to adapt to this trend in a highly competitive market, which is e-commerce, is at least a misunderstanding. Your store must be intuitive, easy to navigate and run instantly on all mobile devices. How does it look with you now, you can check on the ‘Page Speed ​​Insights tool’ from Google.

Possible mistakes in the construction of the store itself are quite a lot, I will focus on the three most popular:

  • Box for a promotional code in the basket – if you do not have a specific strategy for the promotion and distribution of promotional codes in advance, this field for the promotional code is of no use. You can be sure that your customers will leave the shopping cart to get this code out. And remember that the shopping cart is the place from which the customer’s path should lead only to the next step at the stage of ordering.
  • There is no necessary information on the product card to make a purchase decision – Product description should contain comprehensive information about the product and its application. In addition, information on the time and cost of shipping should be provided on the product page. The rating system or comments on the product are also of great importance. They provide social evidence and give customers confidence in their choices.
  • Poor quality product photos – the customer buys with eyes. The product should have high resolution images presenting it from each side. Consumers also well-received video materials and previews of products in 3D which allowing any rotation and enlargement.

No delegation of tasks and employees from everything

Quite a frequent problem in companies is the boss who thinks that no one will do “this” better than himself, so he is present at every process and task. Acting in this way instead of running a business, he deals with improving or even relieving his employees. The end result is always the same, the company does not develop.

Another mistake is to throw many tasks into a single employee from completely different areas. The most common is entrusting customer service to the same person who is responsible for the execution of orders and sending parcels to customers. In practice, such an employee does not like and does not want to talk to customers, because “he must still complete and send these packages today and there is no time for stupid questions”. As a result, the employee is overtired and the customer dissatisfied.

Delivery time of products

The delivery time should be real, and all delays should be immediately notified to the customer and preferably by phone. That’s all for a prosaic reason, if your client feels cheated, he will not do more shopping at your store.

I meet sometimes, with information about the delivery time, in the style of “delivery from 5 to 10 days”. What do you think, if the customer places an order, how many days will he expect this delivery? Disappointing the consumer is nothing more than to ask him to look at the offer of our competition before the next purchase.

The delivery time itself should specify the time of the contract and the approximate time of its delivery by the forwarding company. Information about time and shipping costs should be provided on the product page and in the order summary in the basket.

Pre-sale and after-sales service for the customer

The quality of customer service is a value for consumers and is one of the factors influencing the decision to buy. I recommend treating clients as partners in business.

Contacting the customer service department of your online store should be easy to establish and the reaction of service as fast as possible by the professional and friendly employee who will be supports the customer.

Most common mistakes and attitudes:

  • Unfriendly service and inadequate identification of the client’s problem.
  • Obstructing a complaint or returning goods,
  • Delayed response to customer inquiries,
  • Definitive lack of contact with the store – not picking up phones, not replying to emails.

I would like to draw your attention to how your employees serve clients. Call the customer, find out what he liked and what does not, and you’ll get an information on what could be done better.

Lack of taking care of already acquired clients

In Center and East Europe, the e-commerce market is fresh and a large part of entrepreneurs do not particularly draw attention to returning customers, focusing primarily on acquiring new and at the cheapest cost. However, traffic prices are growing all the time. Due to this, you should already take care of the clients you have.

It is worth asking for feedback about their shopping experience. You can do it by e-mail, but I recommend called to the clients. By establishing contact with the consumer in this way, we deepen his relationship with our brand and receive feedback about its impressions, problems and needs. Based on them, we improve our offer and marketing strategy.

How to take care of an online store customer? Offer a loyalty program, send email and SMS newsletters that will be engage the clients. Focus on the high level of customer service in your store.

Pop-up, cookie, GDPR and web push

When someone enter the new store for the first time, not will knowingly allow your browser to send notifications or sign up for the newsletter. If we include cookies and GDPR in this list of pop-ups, we have a simple recipe how to annoy the customer even before he even took a look at our offer.

All messages that do not serve to achieve the store’s (sales) goals should be subtle and appear at the right time and place.

What about the GDPR and cookie? amazon.com and ebay.com are subject to the same legal regulations as your store. Come in and see for yourself what you really need to show and how you can do it.

In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that it is very difficult to succeed in an industry that you do not know. In order for your business to be true for customers and they believed and trusted your store, you need to get to know the market where you operate. All successful e-businesses of my clients are based on the passion and experience of their owners. Therefore, in my opinion, continuous deepening of knowledge is necessary. I personally made a list of websites, blogs and topics that I keep following.

My name is Paul Wolf and I deal with advertising and marketing strategy. If you want to learn more about me go to the page about me.
Thank you for the time spent reading my article. If you liked it, please share your own experience in the comment.