Thanks to the internet, starting an e-commerce business and getting your products out there for sale can happen in just a matter of hours!
Too many set up their online store without enough information or guidance to ensure success.
The problem is there are thousands of articles out there teaching you how to set up a business quickly, but often these need to tell you some of the most common pitfalls to avoid.
This will not be another one of those articles.
In this guide, we will take you through the seven things they don’t tell you but that you need to know before starting an e-commerce business this year.
1. Dropshipping is tough
In case you’re unfamiliar, dropshipping is an e-commerce business model where you rely on a third party to stock, store, and ship your goods. But your customers will buy these goods through your e-commerce website.
For many, this is the ideal solution as it means not having to find the space to store inventory yourself.
The issue is dropshipping comes with several unique challenges that can make or break a business. And in many cases, they are more likely to break it.
Because dropshipping means you don’t hold the inventory yourself, setting and guarantee shipping times can be tricky.
Not only this, but it can be hard to find a reliable supplier, and returns can be challenging. This can lead to negative customer reviews, despite many of these issues being out of your control. Because the customer initially bought from you, they want you to handle any problems they may have.
Despite this, many budding business owners will jump into dropshipping endeavours believing this is the quickest and most straightforward way to start and run an online business. No one will tell you how hard it is, and you need to know this before you take that leap.
2. People expect fast delivery
Depending on the shipping provider you choose, there will be many options for sending your goods to your customers. Not surprisingly, slower delivery is often the cheaper option, so most current services will provide a range of options for you.
But in the era of Amazon, an outdated three to five-day shipping service generally won’t suffice. In fact, 62% of today’s consumers expect next-day delivery options when buying online.
So in many cases, if someone visits your site and sees that it could be three to five days before their goods arrive, they might be inclined to go somewhere else that offers faster shipping.
Despite this, when setting up an e-commerce business, people rarely share consumer expectations in this way. This can cause issues and potentially a loss in sales if you cannot provide the shipping options that customers have come to expect.
3. It’s very competitive
The fact that it was so quick and easy to set up an online business is great news when you want to break into the e-commerce space. The problem is it also means that there is a lot of competition out there.
In particular, if you go down the dropshipping route, you could be stocking the same products as many other stores that use the same supplier. This can significantly make it much more challenging to sell them if someone else is undercutting your prices. And if you are not accepting specific payment methods like PayPal or having shipping issues, you could be ending your hopes before you’ve even started.
Then, of course, we return to Amazon. With pretty much anything and everything available within a day of ordering, you’ll be competing with use retail giants unless you’re offering something unique or custom-made.
4. It takes time to see results
Just because the website goes up quickly and you have the potential to start making sales right away, this doesn’t mean you will. Sometimes, it could be weeks or months before you see a steady flow of sales coming through your website.
So, you won't be able to rely on an instant payout from your e-commerce venture. Instead, having enough cash to keep you going until you get established would be best.
Otherwise, like many others, you might leave the business within the first few months.
5. Effective marking is going to be crucial
You can have the best product in the world and a unique, captivating website to help sell it, but if you need to learn about yourself, how will they buy your goods?
Unfortunately, too many people consider their e-commerce website the most critical entity, neglecting to view social media profiles and build an online presence.
From the start, you need to make marketing an integral part of your business strategy. There are many free or budget-friendly ways to get your name and branding out there, so don’t hesitate! Get started right away.
6. Written content is key
A big part of building your brand is going to be written content. Although the video is viral right now, and images will always be favorable, people rarely tell you how important written content is for your business.
Through content, you can use keywords and link building to help you rank better on Google and drive customers to your website. This is called search engine optimization (SEO).
You can also use hashtags on social media to help drive relevant viewers and customers to your content. So get writing (or hire someone to do this for you) and start sharing your content online.
7. You need to choose the right e-commerce platform from the start
Finally, you need to make sure you choose the right e-commerce platforms from the start. If you get this wrong, you’ve fallen at the first hurdle, yet no one tells you how vital this is.
There are lots of great platforms out there that make creating a website easy, though some are better suited to specific business types than others.
For example, WooCommerce and Shopify might be better for dropshipping, while Wix has the best drag and top editor, making it much easier to design and update your website. You will also need to consider which platforms and apps will allow the easiest payment methods for you.
So please research the different platforms and how these can benefit your business model before deciding on any one provider.