One of my friends tried starting an e-commerce company on Etsy a few years ago. It was a great idea, but it failed miserably. In hindsight, there were a lot of things she could have done differently.
Starting an e-commerce business can be very easy. Running a profitable business is much more difficult. Close to four out of five online retailers fail. E-commerce entrepreneurs that want to be in the other 20% need to get their strategies right from day one.
Here are some reasons your e-commerce business may be faltering and some ways to turn things around.
1. Ignoring Social Media
Everyone and their grandmother understands that social media is a powerful way for businesses to engage with their customers. Unfortunately, many e-commerce companies barely invest in it. Approximately a quarter of businesses don’t even have a social media team. Many don’t have a formal presence.
Many companies stop investing in social media after they don’t get results after a few months. This is a mistake for a couple reasons:
- They may not be measuring the effectiveness of their strategy properly.
- Their strategy is likely failing due to a lack of investment.
If you gave up on social media after failing to get traction, then you should give it another shot. It can be a great platform to boost your brand and improve your inbound marketing funnel.
2. Underestimating the Importance of SEO
Google provides over three quarters of all traffic on the Internet. Traffic from Google also converts much better than referral web traffic, provided you target the right keywords. Every e-commerce business must understand the importance of SEO if they hope to create a stable web funnel.
Unfortunately, a poor SEO strategy can worse than none at all. Some brands pay a lot of money to useless black hat SEOs that end up ruining their rankings and reputation.
Here are some things you need to bear in mind while doing SEO:
- You need a strong content marketing and offsite link building strategy. Tweaking meta data doesn’t cut it anymore.
- You need to choose your keywords carefully. As an e-commerce brand, it makes sense to target buyer focused keywords. For example, if you are selling flowers through an online store, you should target keywords like “cheap roses” and “buy flowers”. The keyword “flowers” is too competitive and won’t convert as well.
- You want an SEO strategy that will work long-term. Some black-hat strategies work until Google catches on.
SEO is a changing art, but one that you need to understand to thrive as an online retailer.
3. Poor Customer Service
I recently created an account with a major website that gets millions of visitors a month. I had a problem and submitted a ticket the customer service department. They never got back to me. I resolved the issue on my own, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
Poor customer service will hurt your brand and drive customers into your competitors’ arms.
4. Making the Ordering Process too Difficult
Online customers have short attention spans. I know I do when I want to read or buy something online!
I have audited a lot of e-commerce brands and found that the ordering process is simply too much of a hassle. A lot of them also have technical glitches that cause customer orders to fail to go through they have already spent a lot of time trying to finish their orders.
What impact does this have? It is hard to say. However, keep in mind that the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.23%. I believe that the complexity of their ordering processes play a huge role.
If you are going to make customers jump through a lot of hoops, then they won’t finish the buying process. Make the process as easy as possible to avoid losing customers.
5. Failing to Collect Data and Create a Personalized Web Experience
Big data has opened a ton of new doors for e-commerce companies. Unfortunately, many brands aren’t using it to their fullest potential.
As an online retailer, you want to collect data on your customers to create a personalized experience. Most marketers recognize that personalization is becoming more important than ever, but only 39% of brands utilize it.
6. Not Guarding Against Cyberattacks
Cyberattacks are becoming more prevalent than ever. You need to take every possible precaution against them. According to one report I came across, a major cyberattack would cripple two out of three businesses. Use a firewall and two-token authentication at the very least. You should also consider buying extra bandwidth to fight DDoS attacks.