Many people dive into the world of eCommerce without considering the challenges they may face along the way. Unfortunately, when they eventually face those challenges, they aren’t prepared.
In some cases, that pressure can lead to them giving up altogether. Don’t let that be you. As the owner of a new eCommerce business, you must prepare for whatever lies ahead, from the accomplishments to the difficulties. To help you with that, here are ten common challenges new eCommerce businesses face – and how to overcome them.
Challenge 1: Not Enough Time
One major problem that eCommerce business owners face is finding that they don’t have enough time. You might find that, at first, you’re waiting for orders. Then suddenly, when the ball gets rolling, you have too many tasks to complete and not enough time to do them. In this case, consider hiring someone to take on those tasks. It might cost you more initially, but it will mean you are not overwhelmed.
Another way to save time (aside from hiring) is outsourcing tasks like order fulfillment. Outsourcing order fulfillment means you don’t have to worry about picking, packing, and shipping your orders. Instead, you can rely on another company to handle everything for you. Not only does it save you time, but it can also reduce costs. A good third-party provider like these guys can improve efficiency and cost control for your order fulfillment.
Challenge 2: Attracting Customers
A new eCommerce business has a lot of competition they must go up against. This makes it hard to make the first few sales, as many customers shop at places they already know. How can you, as a brand-new t-shirt company, compete with a business that has sold thousands of t-shirts over the years? The answer is by providing something unique. There are many ways to draw a customer’s attention – even at first. Get more creative with your design, become a green-focused company, or offer giveaways to get the ball rolling.
Challenge 3: Understanding the Customer
Many new eCommerce businesses don’t put enough time and energy into truly understanding their customer. Don’t follow that trend. While customer research isn’t always easy, it is fundamental to an eCommerce business. That’s because once you know your customer, it’s much easier to market directly to them. Plus, understanding the customer means knowing what they want in a product, and you can provide that.
Want to know how to learn more about your average eCommerce customer? Start analyzing customer data and using that to define who they are and what their buying habits are. On top of that, ask them directly by conducting surveys and requesting feedback. While many customers won’t bother to provide feedback, those crucial few that do will help you create a better picture of your average customer.
Challenge 4: Creating a Website that Generates Leads
You likely already put a lot of effort into increasing website traffic. That makes sense; the more traffic you gain, the more sales you make. How much effort do you put into ensuring website visitors turn into paying customers, however? Remember – increasing website clicks is only one part of the mission. On top of that, you must encourage everyone who clicks on your site to follow through with their order.
So, how do you do that? To create a website that generates leads, you must make the shopping and checkout smooth. Reduce page loading time, don’t make signing up essential for checking out, and make the pages easy to locate. On top of that, use plenty of calls to action throughout the web copy. That will help direct your website visitors to take action rather than browsing and leaving an empty basket.
Challenge 5: Knowing When to Hire Staff
One person usually runs brand-new eCommerce businesses. At first, that number is acceptable, as it’s likely that the company doesn’t get enough orders to warrant hiring staff. However, there comes a time when this is no longer the case, and putting off writing that job description only hinders the eCommerce business’s success. How can you creatively progress when you’re busy manually picking and packing orders?
Knowing when to hire staff means paying attention to how much time and energy you put into the business. It also means looking at how much money you make and whether it’s enough to pay an employee’s wage. If you are swamped with work, finding it challenging to keep up with tasks, and making enough money to afford a staff member, that’s a sure sign that you’re ready to hire. Doing so will free up your time for responsibilities only you can handle.
Challenge 6: Selling Unique Products
Did you know many eCommerce owners use the same warehouses for their products? In many cases, this leads to products that are all too similar, but it’s better to sell a unique product. That way, the customer won’t find a better deal elsewhere, as you’ll be the only one selling it! So, spend more time looking at suppliers and choosing carefully to sell a unique product. If you’re starting a printed t-shirt eCommerce company, consider using a higher-quality supplier and creating one-of-a-kind designs. Doing so will reel in more customers and create a better name for yourself.
Challenge 7: Encouraging Loyalty
It is much easier to encourage previous customers to shop with you again than to attract new ones. Still, many new eCommerce businesses struggle to promote loyalty in their customers. There might be several reasons, such as not creating a good enough customer experience or not understanding the customer. If you struggle to build a long list of loyal customers, reflect on the customer experience. Your shipping may take too long. Or, your product could be of higher quality. To learn the customer’s problems, look at the feedback they leave.
Challenge 8: Too Much Competition
As previously mentioned, new eCommerce sites often have a lot of competition to contend with. It can be off-putting, but it shouldn’t throw you off your game. Instead, learn how to be better at the competition. One way to do that is by embarking on competitor research. By analyzing your most fierce competition – and getting to know them inside and out – you can learn their techniques, including what works and what doesn’t. In turn, you gain an advantage.
Challenge 9: Not Having Enough Space
Physical space can be an issue. Most new businesses start in small, cramped spaces like the kitchen table or spare room. However, when they succeed, the workspace also needs to grow. It might happen sooner than you think! Even if you don’t keep all the stock in your home, you might realize that you need more space to think – or a place to get away from home so that you have no distractions. In this case, renting a small workspace can make a difference. It’s an investment that can pay off in the long run (especially when looking to hire).
Challenge 10: Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations
Many people who go into eCommerce have little to no experience running a business. Due to this, they often fail to exceed or even meet a customer’s expectations. Unfortunately, this can have dire consequences, as unhappy customers equal poor word of mouth and negative reviews. Plus, there’s little chance they’ll return to your online store willing to give you another shot if you disappointed them the first time!
To meet (and, hopefully, exceed) the customer’s expectations, look at your online store as though you are the customer. Think about their entire buying journey, from when they click on your website to when they receive their order. Is there anything a little bumpy? Perhaps the website is slow, or the shipping costs are too high? Address these issues early on, and the good impression you leave on customers will only draw more in.
Should You Start an eCommerce Business?
If you have not yet started your eCommerce business and are dabbling with the idea, consider whether it is the right time. You might have a million-dollar idea on your hands. Or, you may lack the motivation and resources to go the extra mile. It’s crucial to figure out sooner rather than later whether an eCommerce business is a good idea for you, as you don’t want to pour time, money, and energy into a project that fizzles out. If you have the following, that’s a good indication that starting an eCommerce is a good idea:
- A Great Idea
- Finances to Get Started
- Passion for Going the Extra Mile
With a fantastic idea, enough money to get started, and undeniable passion, your eCommerce business will prove successful. Just remember to plan for the challenges ahead. You will sometimes feel like pulling your hair out because of a disgruntled customer, lack of finances, or too much work on your hands. However, don’t let those hurdles prevent you from persevering. As long as you have a solid plan, your eCommerce business has the chance to make big money.