Starting an online business is one thing; anyone can create their own website and start selling. Thriving is another. A lot of people start buying domains and filling their inventories only to close shop after months. What went wrong?
The internet offers ample opportunities for people who want to be their own boss. And they’re good at making it easy. But while the tools are easy to come by, the bulk of the management is left to you, the entrepreneur. And knowing what to expect when you set up shop is important to help you avoid the worst pitfalls of the business.
To help you out, here is a list of the things (issues, problems, situations) that you’ll most likely encounter when starting an online business.
You Will Be Overwhelmed by Platform Options
The internet is rife with people who make money by helping other people make money. That may sound like good news until you have to individually go through pages of e-commerce platforms that promise “the best tools in the trade.”
Take it with a caveat. While these people may mean well, not all of them are good at it. And it takes plenty of reading and research to find the best ones.
Before you pick up the ultimate e-commerce platform to be your business sidekick, keep your options open. Shop around and compare multiple platforms before picking up one. In fact, it may even be wise to take the free trials first so you’ll have an insider view of how each platform works in action. Spend your dollars only for the platform that fits your needs.
You’ll Have to Wear Your Customer’s Hat
When doing business online, having a website is not enough. You also have to make sure that it works in your favor. A website that’s hard to use reflects negatively on your business. This makes creating an engaging and user-friendly website your top priority.
To be able to ace this task, you need to think in your customer’s hat. What do you want to see when you visit an e-commerce website? What information do you need? What payment platforms do you prefer? What are the shipping terms?
On top of these questions, you also have to consider the tools available on the website for your customers to use. Here are a few important items you should review:
- Your store’s landing page. This is the first page your customers see when you visit the index page of your website. Essentially, it’s your brand wrapper that works just like the cover of a book or the presentation of food. So make a good first impression.
Your landing page differs from your product pages and should contain smart design, the right color scheme, leading content, and a call to action. Here’s a good infographic guide that tells you all about the anatomy of a winning landing page.
- Your cart’s functionality. All your marketing and website-beautifying efforts all boil down to your customers clicking on that Add to Cart button. You’ve done it, you’ve won their hearts, but it would be too bad if your cart doesn’t function. That’s any online seller’s worst nightmare.
Your cart’s functionality is a gateway to the dollars. Don’t lose customers just because you’ve had a blip in programming, so always test if your cart works.
Practice adding products and checking out to see if the numbers add up right. And in case this problem may occur in the future, have a handy contact button in the checkout page, through which your customers can promptly send a direct query to the right person about the problem.
- Your payment system’s functionality. In addition to your cart’s performance, you should also test if the payment transactions work breezily. Conduct a test where you may have to use a credit or debit card (or any other payment system you have in your store) to see if the billing translates without trouble from your online platform to your bank account. Address any diagnosed problem immediately.
You’re Going to Do a Lot of Promotions
Marketing takes a big chunk of any business, no matter the platform. Fortunately, in this day and age, it’s easier to reach an audience that’s wired most of the day to the internet. This means more avenue for you to market your brand. There are various promotional platforms you can do to increase your site’s visibility and convert visitors into customers.
Perhaps the most popular one is social media. Reach out to microinfluencers instead of ones with a gargantuan following. These microinfluencers may be smaller in scale, but they are also most likely to be more in touch with their follower base and have lesser risk of drowning your brand in controversy in case some mistakes are made. Most importantly, keep your content engaging, interactive, and consistent.
Another tool that you will have to learn to promote your brand is SEO, or search engine optimization. This highly effective marketing tool helps your site get seen from the thousands of other competitors in the market.
If you want faster and more immediate results, pay-per-click marketing is also worth exploring.
You Will Make Mistakes
And that’s okay. The key is to keep the lessons that you get out of your errors and use them to move forward and do better.
You may find inventories that don’t sell as much as you hoped they would. You will have a trial and error in marketing. Occasionally, you may encounter a problem with your website. But these are all part of the journey, and it requires just as much problem-solving tactics as your next email campaign does.
The Learning Curve Will Be Steep
And it’s difficult not to get frustrated in the process. But if you enjoy learning new things, you’ll come out a multiskilled expert in your field.
All these are practical situations that will manifest in multiple forms during the entirety of your journey as an entrepreneur. Have a game plan. See things from your and your customers’ perspectives, and always approach each new challenge with confident caution.