3 mistakes to avoid with your first e-commerce store

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Starting your first website is daunting. Whether it’s an online store for your business or just a personal project (mine was a David Letterman review page – admittedly an odd choice for a 12 year old), it comes with a long list of questions.

For those looking to launch businesses online, it has never been more important to put aside these mental barriers. Consider this: online shopping has made a decade of progress in the past two years, and it’s never going to back down again. The latest estimate puts US e-commerce revenue at $767.7 billion in 2021. People are turning to the internet for more than just David Letterman reviews (but that’s still a thing, right?). Entrepreneurs of all sizes and experiences should be there to meet them.

My career has allowed me to rub shoulders with hundreds of retailers with different needs, clienteles and products. I noticed that no matter how big or small they all get stuck on the same things at first.

Related: 5 Ecommerce Mistakes to Avoid: The Beginner’s Guide

Here are the big three and some tips for getting around those hurdles.

Mistake #1: Neglecting your basic skill

I’ve heard so many retailers find the idea of ​​putting all their products online daunting. They fall into the trap of thinking they have to have endless aisles and talk themselves out of it before they even start.

The reality, however, is that too much choice is often a bad thing. Research has shown that 42% of customers abandon their online shopping cart because it’s too hard to choose.

My biggest advice is to focus only on your specialty. When your physical store moves online, most of your customers will be people who are already familiar with your brand. You have their support, so deepen your knowledge of yourself. Think of your website in terms of what you do really well and grow from there.

Start by putting your 10 or 20 bestselling items online and invest in professional photos and strong product descriptions. Don’t underestimate the power of focus. It will earn you more recognition and push you to go further and develop a name for yourself. Once you have this platform, you can land and grow.

Mistake #2: Exploding your construction budget

Too many marketers are drawn to the bells and whistles of the latest and greatest technology. Don’t blow your entire budget by building a juggernaut that no one knows about. Instead, be sure to invest in marketing.

To build a successful e-commerce store, retailers need to pull the right combination of three levers: gross margin, conversion rate, and traffic. The first two are difficult to control outdoors, but what has the most impact outdoors – and what you can control – is driving traffic.

Traffic is a commodity, yes, but it’s getting harder and harder to just pay someone to grow traffic for you. Marketers need to answer three questions: 1) what is unique about us, 2) how can we best communicate it, 3) where will this message be most effective?

Here’s a hint: in this increasingly crowded e-commerce space, don’t be afraid to get out of the address bar. Marketing dollars don’t have to be spent online. Consider traditional ways to expand your reach, like sticking stickers around your neighborhood or sending out flyers. I’ve seen that a local accent with traditional touches can still work wonders.

Related: 7 Revenue-Driving Mistakes for Ecommerce Retailers

Mistake #3: Accepting a finished product

Unfortunately, the saying if you build it, they will come doesn’t apply to e-commerce. Too many marketers assume that once they’ve built the site, the hard work is done.

Websites are an incredible opportunity to constantly learn who you interact with. When my agency started working with Yellow Shoes, for example, it was an old company in Montreal with a functioning website that had become stagnant. We delivered a new website and overnight their conversion rate increased 6x. Did we stop there? No, because doing e-commerce well means playing for the long haul, learning from each iteration and improving over time.

It’s important to remember that a good website captures the essence of your brand and reflects the story behind the store. Good brands constantly evolve to stay relevant, so what message does it send to have a website that never changes?

The e-commerce boom of the last couple of years made me think a lot about the first – and most important – professional website I ever created. It turned out much better than my Letterman website, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t take a lot of trial and error. One thing I can guarantee is that taking the leap into e-commerce will build your confidence, provide you with an ongoing challenge, and ultimately make your business more accessible to people who want to find you.

Once you’ve overcome the nervousness and mastered these simple lessons above, the next stage of exciting possibilities begins: scaling customer service, maximizing personalization, and ultimately reaching a global audience.

Related: Building an e-commerce team? Avoid these common mistakes


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