5 Ecommerce Startup Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

March 3, 2017

10:30 am

E-commerce startups are all the rage these days. Despite the abundance of reports that show the high failure rate of startups, the flames of the entrepreneurial spirit burns brighter than ever. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to eliminate self-doubt and be willing to accept whatever happens to get started.

The good news is, any outcome is progress as long as you’re capable of learning from failures. Unfortunately, a single miscalculation may sound the death knell for small startups – unlike established companies that can afford numerous mistakes.

To ensure your e-commerce startup doesn’t implode before it even takes off, below are five critical pitfalls you should watch out for:

1. Relying Too Much on WordPress

There’s no doubt that WordPress is a great platform for building just about any site. It’s also compatible with other e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce. However, these platforms are exactly why relying too much on WordPress is a mistake. If you always run to WordPress whenever you build a site, you’re missing out on features that will simplify your e-commerce business.

Besides, e-commerce platforms have everything you need to build a store from the ground up – from shopping cart apps to blogging extensions. You don’t need to integrate them with a content management system.

A word of advice, take advantage of free trials to determine which platform will adequately meet your needs. Once you pick one, it’ll be difficult and impractical to switch to another platform later.

2. No Mobile Presence

90% of consumers use their phones to purchase online. That said, building an online store without optimizing for mobile is like setting up shop in the middle of the desert.

Today, most e-commerce platforms and site builders already have a selection of mobile-responsive themes. Apart from this, you should also run your site through the Google Mobile-Friendly Test for suggestions on how to optimize your store.

3. Store Design Doesn’t Resonate with Buyers

Success in e-commerce is all about your buyers. In addition to providing a decent experience to mobile shoppers, you also need to implement a design that resonates with buyer personas. Make sure all details – from the colors to your choice of fonts – are tailored specifically to your target audience.

It’s also important to pick updated themes and templates whenever your e-commerce platform undergoes a major update. Doing so enables you to capitalize on new features that can improve the experience of buyers.

4. Terrible Product Presentation

If you want to sell something, you need to put it on the best possible light – not blotch it with a generic description and low-quality product photos. This is not something you should skimp on. If necessary, hire a professional copywriter or photographer, preferably with e-commerce experience, to captivate onlookers and convert traffic into profits.

As rules of thumb, be sure to use high-resolution images (at least 1024 x 1024) and present the product in different angles. When it comes to the description, get straight to the point and deal with the pain points of your buyers. Avoid filler words unless they instill positive emotions into readers.

5. No Strategy for Sustainability

Growing an e-commerce business requires two things: attracting new customers and making sure they come back for more. You can’t have one without the other if you want to sustain your online store for the long-term.

A proven strategy is to build a mailing list to cultivate customer loyalty and squeeze more sales from past buyers. For this, you need an email marketing platform like GetResponse and Aweber. In addition to list management, these platforms also feature drag-and-drop email builders and lead capture tools.   

Finally, make sure you invest in customer service to establish a trustworthy and authoritative brand. You can do this through email, live chat, social media, and other touchpoints that allow you to connect with consumers. Not only will this keep them happy, it’s also the key to generating the much-needed social proof.

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Loren Baker is the founder of Search Engine Journal and is a VP at Foundation Digital. A long time digital entrepreneur, Loren has been in digital marketing since 1998 and over the past decade he has built & executed innovative online strategies for leading companies in car insurance, retail shopping, professional sports and the movie & television industry.

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