Running an online store can be a highly rewarding experience – or a disaster.
What are the most common mistakes people make?
Read on to find out, avoid them, and accelerate your success.
1. Inadequate Content Marketing
When launching an online store, content is not at the top of most people’s priorities.
Failing to invest in content marketing makes getting social and organic traffic very hard, particularly if you’re selling a “bland” product like spare parts for electrical appliances.
How much could anyone be expected to write about those?
The answer: not very much. The key is to market according to customers, not products.
Who would need spare parts for electrical appliances?
Maybe DIY enthusiasts, who’d be interested in other DIY-related products. Do research to see if that’s the case and build your content marketing strategy around this potential target group. This way, there’ll be more opportunities to produce great content and connect with your audience.
Particularly in very technical niches, you need to do more than write articles on your product’s features. You should go beyond the simple vendor-customer relationship and really build a connection.
Shopify stores should utilize the platform’s categorization feature or “collections”. Collections are a great way to rank for high volume keywords.
2. Too Much Competition…Or Too Little
When opening an online store – especially if it’s your first one – it’s best to stay away from highly competitive, broad markets like baby clothes or T-shirts.
Hundreds of online stores sell these items.
The problem with cutthroat markets is that your targeted keywords will never rank in search engines, you’ll be forced to reduce prices markedly to survive the competition, and you’ll find it hard to be perceived as unique.
Picking a niche that’s too narrow will work against you for the additional reason that there might not be enough buyers. The best product to pick is one without much online competition that isn’t readily available at physical stores and that is in relatively high demand so you actually sell.
Easier said than done.
People have a sort of innate resistance to doing analysis into what such a product would actually be because they just pick markets they’re passionate about. Considerations such as the bottom line should come before passion, as customary for good business.
Establishing the exact right amount of competition is tricky, which is why it’s crucial to do research into the market situation.
Look at who the biggest players in your niche are.
- Do they have good reviews?
- Do they have the items you’re carrying?
- Do they have a massive following on social media?
- Press coverage? A popular blog?
If so, look for another niche. Moving forward with your store in this situation would be a mistake.
Any niche lacking sufficient information is lucrative. Use the opportunity to build comprehensive resources in it. You don’t have to invent the light bulb – use information presented elsewhere and make it helpful and easy for visitors to your site to use.
Even if your niche is competitive, you’ll succeed with some SEO efforts. Information gaps are easiest to find. Your investment won’t be high, and the content will contribute value to your store above and beyond that of your customers and products.
3. Neglecting Automation
Lots of people who run online stores choose to do everything themselves, from the setting up and product image uploading to writing descriptions, social media posts, and SEO optimization.
Things like manual order processing and data entry are massively time-consuming. This time is better spent on innovation, development, and building business relationships.
Automate as many menial tasks as you can. While it won’t come cheap, the time and effort you save will prove more valuable than this initial investment. Unnecessary menial tasks, in particular, need to be done away with.
These include fiddling with image size or your logo and making minor changes in general. While these things can impact conversion positively, they are best avoided in the early stages of operation.
4. Not Having a Detailed Business Plan
Experts will tell you plain math is the most important skill to have in operating any business, whether on or offline. If your online store is more like a hobby to you, you probably haven’t thought about a business plan at all, much less a detailed one.
You risk ending up in a niche without sufficient revenue potential. If you’re trying to sell low-cost items, you’ll need to sell much more than you think to turn a profit.
If you choose the dropshipping model (as many Shopify stores do), you’ll face thousands of merchants selling the same items, not to mention being up against giants like Walmart and Amazon rather than rubbing shoulders with them.
There’s one very basic formula to apply:
5. (Re)consider Giveaways
Some online stores do very well with freebies and giveaways. Sending free samples has always been an effective marketing tactic, but it’s not suitable for every niche.
Giveaways work on consumable or perishable items like foods, nutritional supplements, or skincare products. You’ll find it hard to make products like clothing work even though people can order more than one such item.
Freebies help build a brand, not drive sales. You need a plan to build a brand.
So what’s a good plan? You could run a contest and have a gift certificate as the prize.
Partner with a blogger in your niche to pick up social shares and links. You’ll increase your email list and social media following as a bonus.
Once you do, what will you do with all those followers?
You need to engage them right from the start. Put original content out regularly and share it as often as possible.
Be helpful and talk to your followers.
They’ll stay loyal.
If you don’t make this effort, you’ll lose them.
Even the most effective freebies, giveaways, and contests are less valuable than planning for their aftermath is.
Shopify stores can be overly focused on a single sale. It’s always better to nurture an existing relationship.
6. Too Much Variety in Product Range
Let’s say you’re selling reusable bags or another eco-friendly product. It’s not selling well, so you decide to expand your product range with eco-friendly items.
Will this help?
Not if they have nothing in common other than being eco-friendly. This will work if your brand is general, but in this very case, it caters to a very specific niche.
It’ll be hard to attract specific customers if you have too much variety. Your search efforts will suffer as well.
This is less a financial mistake than a branding one, but developing a brand is just as critical because that’s what your store is really worth.
7. Your Website’s Not Optimized For Conversion
The last and biggest mistake is not optimizing your online store’s site for conversions.
The things most detrimental to conversion are:
- Low credibility – the site seems amateurish
- No clear CTA – your pages don’t state a goal
- A slow website
The last one is a deal-breaker. If the loading time is more than 4 seconds, the likelihood of your customers leaving the site becomes statistically significant.