It’s easy to notice mistakes that other businesses make.
Noticing when you’ve misfired yourself though? That can take a while.
It can be hard to see the pitfalls in setting up an online store, especially when you’re wrapped up in an exciting business concept.
Making mistakes with your online store will also cost you time and money, so figure out what not to do before you even get started.
We’ve listed the 6 most common mistakes that new online store owners make. It’s only fair we show you how to avoid them, too.
1. Not having a business plan
Slow down for a minute.
You’ve got an amazing product and you’re really excited to finally sell it online.
But do you know how long it’ll take you to start making money? Any idea how much money you need to earn to cover all your expenses?
Not having a solid business plan is one of the most common mistakes to make when opening an online store.
Taking time to write a business plan is well worth the effort. It might seem like a boring piece of work to wade into in the heat of your excitement, but you’ll thank yourself later on.
This is the blueprint for your success, even if it’s just you running the show. A business plan will help give you an idea of:
- How much revenue you can realistically achieve
- Who your competitors are
- Who you want to be selling to – your target market
Drafting your business plan will get you thinking about marketing, customers, and growth ideas. As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
2. Not having a marketing plan, either
Without a marketing plan, you won’t have a framework in place for actually selling your product.
No matter how flawless your website is, nobody is going to find it if you aren’t driving traffic from marketing strategies.
As with a business plan, a common mistake in flinging open your online store is skipping the marketing plan. You don’t have to be super sophisticated in your approach.
An effective marketing plan is short and to the point. Take the research you used to create your business plan and go from there.
Remember who you’re selling to and who you’ll be competing with. Market research will give you an idea of which channels are best to use for your business.
You could market your online store via:
- Social media. We wrote a whole blog on how to use social media marketing to your advantage.
- Pay per click (PPC) advertising.
- Third-party endorsements, like press releases. Consider a public relations strategy.
Be ambitious with your marketing plan. You’ll need to be realistic, too, but this is your business and you want it to shine.
3. Hiding the value proposition
Competition is healthy, but not when you’re drowning in it.
It’s crucial to find your niche when setting up a new online store. One really common mistake is entering into an oversaturated market and failing to stand out.
That’s not to say you can’t sell a product that’s already in huge demand. If you love yoga pants, don’t be deterred. Want to develop a ride-sharing service? There’s room for you, too.
The most important thing is to make sure that your proposition is unique. It should be visible to your customers.
You’ll need to be thinking about your store’s value proposition as you build your business. Make it known from the outset – this will help you stand out from the crowd.
Question your product’s viability:
- Is there a way to make a unique value proposition for your store? It’s possible your competitors have every base covered.
- Are you ever going to be visible in search rankings? Think about keywords.
- Is your product or proposition too niche?
Unless you can justify what makes your online store different in a valuable way, success will be harder to find.
4. Not being search optimized
Figuring out search engine optimization (SEO) is best done at the very start of your online store’s journey.
Keyword research will help validate demand for your product, for starters. SEO will also serve as one of your strongest marketing tools if you get it right.
Your goal here is to optimize the visibility of your website. Clever use of keywords will lead people to your store through search rankings – this is also known as organic traffic.
Write down a list of the keywords you think customers will use to find your products. There are plenty of online tools you can use to check keyword demand.
When you’re building your website:
- Use keywords in product descriptions. Keep it natural and easy to read.
- Consider writing a blog. Fresh, genuine content will help search engines find you.
- Create backlinks for your website. Consult a pro, if you need advice.
Staying on top of your customers’ search habits will help feed your marketing strategies, so optimize your website for search right from the outset.
5. Forgetting to test
So, you know how to make your product look good.
What if it breaks after one use? Or the customer never even receives it? Think of the reviews.
Another common mistake with setting up an online store is just opening the doors to the whole of the world without checking that everything works.
There’s value in testing the water before you dive in. If you set up a test run for your online store before you launch, you can go live with confidence.
Select people to help you out with testing your end-to-end offer. By using a small focus group, you can check for holes in your system and take steps to improve.
Testing can help highlight:
- The flaws in your supply chain. If you choose to use dropshipping, a test run is pretty vital in checking that you’ve picked the right vendors.
- Issues with any links, descriptions, or imagery on your website.
- Whether your pricing structure and product selection is reasonable.
If you’re going at it alone, remember that you will be answerable to any queries or complaints. Test first and make it hard (if not impossible) for customers to find any issues.
6. Using a bad site layout
You probably wouldn’t walk into a store that was dark and cluttered, where the products were hard to see and nothing had a price label on it.
Remember that your website is like a series of shop windows – your own beautiful department store.
Just like a brick-and-mortar equivalent, you’ll want your store to be exciting, enticing, and consistent.
A lazy site design that isn’t intuitive will only scare customers away. There’s a strong link between great website design and trustworthiness, too.
When you’re designing your website:
- Don’t make it complicated. You can just pick a template and make it work for you. Zyro has several to choose from.
- Keep your product in mind. What kind of thumbnail photos will you use? Will you need lots of filter options?
- Think of the customer journey. What’s intuitive to you may not be intuitive to others.
Think about how your favorite brands make your shopping journey easy and fun.
Make sure you give your customers the same experience.