9 Biggest Mistakes E-Commerce Businesses Make

07.08.2023
7 min reading

Imagine an enthusiastic entrepreneur. She dreamed of bringing her unique fashion creations to a global audience through her e-commerce store. Full of excitement and determination, she launched her online shop, believing it was the start of an incredible journey. 

But as weeks passed, reality began to set in. Despite her best efforts, she did not get the sales she had hoped for. Frustration crept in, and she wondered what could be going wrong. 

Relatable much?

You’re not alone.

According to a study by Digital Commerce 360, 90% of e-commerce businesses fail within a few years of launching.

Many passionate entrepreneurs fail because they all make the SAME mistakes. This article covers those common mistakes you should avoid when launching your Online store. Avoid them becoming one of ten e-commerce brands that make it to a million dollars in revenues in their first year.

In this blog, we’ll unveil the “9 Biggest Mistakes E-commerce Businesses Make” and, more importantly, tips on how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Trying to Look Like a Big Company

In the digital world, you can be anyone you want. Most e-commerce businesses fall for creating the illusion of a bigger company. They try to sound all high and mighty and imitate corporate giants. But believe it or not, that’s the biggest mistake they make. 

According to a scientific study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, people think products from small businesses are of higher quality. They prefer them more and are more likely to choose them. The only exception is high-tech products, which people prefer to buy from large companies.

So when it comes to products like jewelry, shoes, clothing etc, customers prefer small businesses. They believe these brands put their heart and soul into making high-quality items and have expertise in a specific niche.

Here are a few ways to “show off your small business” and use your size to your advantage:

  • Focus on Niche Markets: Compete with the giants by mastering one specific niche, offering expertise and service they can’t match.
  • Personalized Customer Service: Remember, small is PERSONAL. Being small means connecting with customers on another level, going the extra mile to ensure their happiness and satisfaction.
  • Build Lasting Relationships: Go beyond business; create loyal customers by forming genuine connections.

Be a proud small business!

In the e-commerce world, remember that “small” doesn’t mean insignificant; it means extraordinary! Embrace your authenticity and make a lasting impact on your customers.

Meet Blue Bottle Coffee, a small business with a BIG impact. In a world of coffee giants, Blue Bottle chose authenticity over imitation. They celebrated and advertised the fact that they roast small-batch beans with love. This way, they serve coffee that offers unique experiences in charming coffee shops.

Mistake # 2: Missing the Niche

To thrive as an online business owner, finding and focusing on a niche market is your ticket to success. 

This means that you have to be a specialist who does ONE thing exceptionally well rather than someone who does everything but only decently. So don’t miss out on your niche by being too general. Focus on the one thing you do extraordinarily well. 

Going for a niche market is like shining a spotlight on your offerings, making it effortless for the ideal customers to say, “This is exactly what I’ve been looking for!” 

Missing your niche is like shooting in the dark. It’s either hit or miss, mostly misses. It’s all about honing in on your unique strengths, catering to a specific audience, and creating an irresistible match that sparks instant attraction. 

What is a Niche Market?

A niche market is a specific group of people for which your product or service is designed. It’s like a unique flower that only grows in a special place.

For example, Maternity activewear is designed for pregnant women wanting to stay active during pregnancy. 

A niche market allows businesses to thrive by providing specialized products or services that cater to a specific audience.

Why Niche Market? 

  1. Understanding Your Customers: Focusing on a niche helps you address your client’s pain points, values, aspirations, and emotions, allowing for more effective communication.
  2. Sending a Clear Message: Tailoring your ads, emails, descriptions, and offers to a specific audience makes your message easy to understand and relatable. 
  3. Competitive Advantage: By specializing in a niche, your business becomes an expert in that area, standing out from competitors with broader targets.

In the vast world of e-commerce, “niche” is a fascinating concept. It’s like finding hidden gems within a treasure chest. Every market can be finely tuned to cater to specific groups with unique needs and preferences.

Think about it: Some customers seek luxury, while others prefer budget-friendly options. Some are after premium quality, while others love handmade charm. And then some are driven by shared values and interests.

A good example is “Black Rifle Coffee,” which targets Military veterans instead of a generic coffee-loving audience. The result? A brand that struck a chord and was successful.

Mindjournal is another outstanding niche e-commerce business. They specialize in selling self-help journals designed for men facing mental health challenges. With an understanding of their target audience’s needs and experiences, they offer empowering tools for men looking to prioritize their mental well-being.

Remember, true success begins by focusing on one niche before branching out. So find your sweet spot, become an expert, and watch your e-commerce business succeed.

Mistake # 3: Not Focusing on One Product 

In the world of e-commerce, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and overworked. Often, starting entrepreneurs offer more products than one in the beginning due to various kinds of fears:

  1. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): They worry that offering only one product might benefit potential customers looking for other options.
  2. The Fear of Not Attracting Enough Customers: They believe that offering various products will attract a wider range of customers and increase their chances of making sales.
  3. The Fear of Not Looking Professional: They think that having a larger product catalogue will make their business appear more established and professional.
  4. The Fear of Competition: They fear that their single product might need more to stand out in a competitive market.

To set yourself up for success, choose ONE standout product and give it your undivided attention. 

By focusing on a single product:

  • You gain a deeper understanding of your target audience’s needs and preferences. 
  • You can measure progress and gather feedback more effectively.
  • You can streamline your supply chain, simplifying other aspects such as inventory management and customer service.

Businesses focusing on one product can aim for improved customer satisfaction and increased profitability through feedback and customer focus.

Don’t let fear hold you back! It’s a common myth that you need countless products to succeed. Take Airpods, for example—they make more revenue than some big tech companies like Spotify, Twitter, or Shopify.

[Image Source: https://headphonesaddict.com/airpods-facts-revenue/]

Yes, you don’t have a product as popular as Airpods, and you should only target billions in revenues when you have millions. But let’s crunch some numbers together:

Imagine your product costs $80. By selling just 35 daily units, you’ll surpass $1 million in annual revenues! (35 orders x $80 x 365 days = $1,022,000).

So, you don’t need more than ONE product to hit that first million in sales. 

You may be concerned that choosing a niche will make finding enough clients for your product difficult. Even in niche markets, there are enough potential customers to reach your goals. 

Dollar Shave Club, for example, is one of the one-product success stories. Focusing on delivering quality razor blades to customers, they’ve built out a niche in the market. Their success is because of their simplicity.

In 2022, the global revenue in the men’s apparel market reached a staggering $499.80 billion, with the US contributing $100.5 billion. UNTUCKit bagged this opportunity with ONE product – the untucked shirt. They make shirts for those who want to wear their shirts untucked – a casual shirt fit for comfort and not a convention, designed to fall at the perfect length. With an annual revenue of $133.2 million, they built their success on ONE product within the men’s apparel market. 

Mistake # 4: Bringing the Customers to an Unready Store 

Picture this: a potential customer excitedly clicks on your website, hoping to find the perfect product. But instead, they’re confused because of the website. The website needs more information and blurry product images. They are left with no choice but to leave. Because by this time, they must be feeling frustrated. That’s the last thing you want.

Creating a successful e-commerce store requires more than just setting up a basic website. Putting time and effort into making your online store a welcoming customer experience is important. Most e-commerce businesses need to work on their online store before jumping in. This costs them, precious customers.

Here are some things you should have in place before you go live with your e-commerce store:

  1. Clear Product Information: Ensure all your product details are crystal clear. From descriptions to specifications, leave no room for confusion.
  2. High-Quality Images: High-resolution images show you are a professional, not just a rookie selling online. Put up high-quality, high-resolution photos representing your products. Show the effect on white background for visual clarity. Capture them from all angles to show product details, their features, colours, materials, and textures.
  3. Real-Life Product Images: People can’t touch the product when you sell online. They need to see the real images (no dummies, renders, or drawings). Bring products to life with images of products being used in real situations. Don’t just show a water bottle, but an actual person drinking from it.
  4. Clear Terms & Conditions: Write down your terms and conditions. It should cover return policies, warranties, and other information customers must know when purchasing.
  5. Transparent Shipping Policy: Be clear about shipping methods, estimated delivery times, and costs to manage customer expectations.
  6. Smooth Navigation: A user-friendly website is a happy website. Make sure it’s easy to navigate, so customers can find what they need.
  7. Secure Checkout Process: Build trust by providing a secure and hassle-free checkout process. Ensure that the process of buying from your website is smooth. There should be no glitches in the add-to-cart and payment process., ensuring a glitch-free adding-to-cart and payment process.
  8. Reachable Support: Make customer contact an easy experience by displaying your support email, phone number, or live chat options so they can reach out anytime.
  9. Mobile-Friendly Design: You should know that most customers shop on their phones. Optimize your website for mobile devices.
  10. Fast Load Times: Time is precious, and nobody likes waiting. Ensure your website loads quickly.

Bringing people to your store while ensuring it’s ready to serve your customers can save you money. Take the time to resolve all issues, optimize your website, and deliver a fantastic shopping experience. 

Mistake # 5: Neglecting the Whole Customer Experience:

Did you know that 73% of people consider customer experience a make-or-break factor when purchasing? 

Imagine stepping into an online store that is as convenient as a physical one:

  • A visually appealing and easy-to-navigate website effortlessly allows you to find what you want.
  • A person is just one message away, available to assist you if you need a helping hand.
  • There are clear product pictures and descriptions. 
  • A customer support team is only a chat, email, or call away. 
  • When it’s time to check out, the process is seamless, leaving you confident in your purchase.
  • They even keep you informed about your order’sorder’s status.
  • You receive your order in perfect condition, without any delays.

Won’t you automatically buy again from this store or the one that took ages to load product photos and didn’t even notify you when you’ll receive your order?

Take CDbaby, for example. They understood the importance of customer experience by making small yet significant changes. For example, they started showing shipment countdowns and worked on building connections between customers and music artists; they revolutionized the user experience. 

Keep this in mind: online shopping is not just a purchase. It’s a complete experience. This experience involves all the touchpoints the customer has with the business. To elevate the customer experience, a user-friendly professional-looking online store is a must. However, there are other crucial aspects you should focus on:

  • Communication: Personalized communication is key. Consider using SMS, WhatsApp, or Messenger messages to enhance the customer experience. Go for something other than generic communication. Add a personal touch to it.
  • Order Status Updates: Keep clients informed about the status of their orders, from receipt to dispatching and delivery. Provide tracking numbers to keep them up to date about their orders.
  • Ask for Feedback: After delivery, inquire if everything was satisfactory with the package and product.
  • Packaging Matters: The unboxing experience can make a difference, so pay attention to how you package your products. Positive unboxing expertise can lead to user-generated content to bring more eyeballs to your business.
  • Customer Service: When something goes wrong, ensure clients have direct contact with your customer service. As a smaller business, personalized service can be a great advantage over larger companies that rely on chatbots.
  • Show them You Care: Add personal notes to packages and consider offering small gifts or surprises to show your customers that you genuinely care about their satisfaction.

By looking at the world through your customers’ eyes, you can build a customer experience that leaves a good impression. Improve the whole experience, and you’ll be in for success. 

Mistake#6: Talking About the Features, Not the Benefits

As business owners, getting excited about the cool features you’ve built into the products is natural. But here’s the thing – customers aren’t just seeking something fancy; they’re looking for solutions to their problems. 

If you want to increase sales, it’s time to shift our approach and shine the spotlight on the actual value of your product. 

Imagine you have a top-notch camera with high resolution – that’s impressive. But the magic happens when you can capture those picture-perfect moments and print stunning photos. That’s the benefit that truly makes you purchase a camera!

Make a conscious effort to connect with your customers on a deeper level. When you engage with them, not only talk about our product features but also emphasize how what you are offering can transform their lives for the better.

Take inspiration from industry giants like Apple, who have mastered the art of showcasing benefits on their websites. Apple addresses its customer’s pain points and solves problems with unique product benefits. For example, its slim and sleek design makes it easier to carry, and with great battery life, Apple owners don’t need to worry about charging ports (which is a huge hassle). 

Here is another great way Apple showcases how its product benefits you.

[Image Source: https://www.apple.com/macbook-air-13-and-15-m2/]

Like Apple, highlighting your products’ awesome benefits win your customers’ hearts and grow your business.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes Apple different. Most PC manufacturers discuss technical stuff like processor speed, RAM capacity, and hard drive size. But here’s the thing: many customers want more than just a powerful computer. They buy one to improve their daily lives, do tasks easily, and run apps smoothly.

We must discuss the good stuff they’ll get from our products to make it easier for customers to understand. Here are some examples:

  • Up to 12 hours battery capacity ➝ With extended battery life, you can work throughout the day without worrying about searching for electricity or being tied to a power outlet.
  • 500 GB hard drive ➝ Enjoy ample storage space to store all your videos, photos, and files without needing external flash drives or additional storage devices.
  • 3D Sound ➝ Immerse yourself in a cinematic audio experience, even without earphones, like a movie theatre.

When you showcase the real-world advantages that your products offer, customers can see how your products fit into their lives and cater to their needs and desires. They become essential tools that make your customers’ lives better and easier. So, the next time you show your products to people, focus on the amazing benefits they offer. You’ll see your business grow like never before!

Mistake #7: Not Building Customer Relationships – The Heart of Your Business

Now let’s dive into a critical aspect that can make or break your business – building strong and meaningful customer relationships. Building connections in the online space is important in the digital age, where physical interactions are limited. This is true, especially for e-commerce businesses. 

The Benefits of Building Customer Relationships:

  • Creating a Sense of Security and Connection: When you build a bond with your customers, they feel more secure and emotionally connected to your brand. This loyalty can turn them into your most loyal advocates.
  • Using the Power of Word-of-Mouth: Positive interactions with your brand can lead customers to spread the word among their friends and family. This way, they become your promoters through word-of-mouth.
  • Proactive Approach: Taking a proactive approach is key. This means consistent communication, such as thoughtful newsletters, follow-up calls, and emails, to foster good customer relationships.

So, how can we achieve this and make our customers feel special?

a.) Communicate with Care: Regular follow-up calls, informative newsletters, and personalized emails go a long way in building strong connections with your customers.

b.) Seek and Embrace Feedback: Invite your customers to share their thoughts and opinions. 

c.) Build Trust through Consistency: Trust is the foundation of any lasting relationship. Deliver high-quality products consistently and meet deadlines to show your customers they can rely on you.

d.) Show Appreciation and Value: Let your customers know you genuinely appreciate and value their support. Simple gestures like thank-you notes or exclusive offers can make a big difference.

By making these efforts, you’ll build a community of satisfied customers who feel connected, heard, and appreciated. 

Mistake #8: Neglecting the Power of Storytelling

In the world of e-commerce, many businesses need to focus more on selling their products. But, potential buyers are more likely to connect with a compelling story. By exploring the art of storytelling, businesses can attract an audience and increase sales.

One way to incorporate storytelling into your e-commerce strategy is to focus on your brand’s identity. What is your brand’s story? What are your values? What makes your brand unique? Once you clearly understand your brand’s story, you can start to share it with your audience through your website, marketing materials, and social media posts.

Another way to use storytelling in e-commerce is to focus on your products. What is the story behind your products? How are they made? Where do they come from? Sharing the stories behind your products can help potential buyers connect with them on a deeper level.

Everlane and State of Kind are two examples of e-commerce businesses that use storytelling effectively. 

Everlane is a fashion brand that strongly stressing transparency in its supply chain and pricing. They use storytelling to showcase their ethical factories, production processes, and the people behind their clothing. This approach has helped Everlane build a strong reputation for social responsibility and attract a loyal following of customers.

State of Kind is a company that sells sustainable home goods. They have a dedicated page on their website titled “Our Philosophy,” where they share the story behind their products. This approach helps potential buyers better understand State of Kind’s mission and values, and it also helps to differentiate the company from its competitors.

Adding storytelling to your e-commerce strategy can build a meaningful connection with a loyal customer base. 

Here are some additional tips for using storytelling in e-commerce:

  • Be authentic: Your stories should be genuine and reflect your brand’s values.
  • Be specific: Don’t just tell a generic story about your products or brand. Share particular details that are relatable to your audience.
  • Be engaging: Your stories should be interesting and engaging to read. 
  • Be persuasive: Your stories should ultimately persuade your audience to take action, whether buying your products, signing up for your newsletter, or following you on social media.

Mistake #9: Overlooking the Importance of Product Reviews

Product reviews are a powerful tool for e-commerce businesses. They can help you build trust with potential customers, learn about problems with your products, and improve your overall customer experience.

It’s important to note here that generating authentic reviews is a MUST. Don’t go for fake or unreal reviews. Your customers are smart enough to differentiate between what’s fake and what’s real. 

Instead, focus on building an ecosystem where users can genuinely share their feedback with you. You can use plugins or tools like judge. me to actively request customer reviews, which integrates with Shopify and Woocommerce. You can provide them with some review ideas and examples of previous reviews to guide them.

When publishing reviews on your website, ensure they align with your brand’s image. If necessary, request permission from customers to edit or use their reviews partially. Remember, Transparency is key in fostering trust with your audience.

According to Invsep, 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means that product reviews can significantly impact your bottom line.

What Makes a Good Product Review?

A good product review is well-written, honest, and informative. It should give potential buyers a clear understanding of the product’s features, performance, and value. 

A good review should also be personal and engaging. This means it should be written to make the reader feel like they are getting to know the reviewer and their experience with the product.

There are many benefits to collecting product reviews. Here are a few of the most important:

  • Build trust: Product reviews can help you build trust and credibility with potential customers. When people see that other customers have had positive experiences with your products, they will likely trust and do business with you.
  • Learn about problems with your products: Product reviews can also help you learn about issues with your products. If you see a pattern of negative thoughts, it may be a sign of a problem with your product. This information can help you improve your product and provide a better customer experience.
  • Improve your overall customer experience: Product reviews can also help you improve your overall customer experience. You can get feedback on what customers like and dislike about your products and services by reading reviews. This information can help you make changes to improve the customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

Successful online selling is not easy, but it’s possible with the right strategies. Avoiding common mistakes that trip up entrepreneurs can increase your chances of e-commerce success. Embrace the advantages of being a small business. Instead of trying to be like big companies, focus on a specific group of customers and offer personalized service to build strong relationships.

Find a niche market that fits your business well. Specializing in one area and serving a particular group of people can help you stand out and understand your customers better. Concentrate on one outstanding product. Understanding your customer’s needs and simplifying things can lead to happier customers. Also, make sure your online store is ready for visitors. Clear information, good pictures, easy navigation, and a secure checkout process will give customers a better experience. 

Additionally, tell stories that connect with your customers. Share your brand’s story and the stories behind your products to create a stronger bond. Lastly, listen to what customers say about your products. Reviews can help build trust and improve your business. By avoiding mistakes and using the right approaches, you can make your e-commerce journey successful. 

Remember, reaching your goals takes hard work, flexibility, and caring about your customers.

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