The end of the year is traditionally a time to look back to the year that has flown by and look forward to the year that is about to start. In a multi-part series we will look at reasons for failure and success. We will start with reasons for failure because (1) we want to leave failure behind in 2014 and (2) because the way to success includes analysis of failure.
I am able to draw on a broad experience in ecommerce, having launched several online stores both for myself and for clients. I have had my fair share of failures and success, and I always make sure to learn from business results – both from failures and successes.
I talk a lot to other ecommerce entrepreneurs. I also read a lot. One of your new year’s resolutions should be to invest (more) in knowledge; this is really important and central to your success. Start by reading blogs such as Ecommerce Income, e-books, books, etc. By the way did I tell you that a new e-book is on its way? It will become available end of January/beginning of February 2015.
Ecommerce vs. Brick-and-mortar stores: three possible pitfalls when selling online
Many brick-and-mortar stores are going online. They often do not change their approaches to doing business a lot. Even people who never had a business offline tend to think that opening an online store looks a lot like opening an offline store, a “normal” store. It is not. This wrong understanding of what selling online is leads to a lot of ecommerce failures. Therefore I will start this series with discussing the differences between online and offline stores and accompanying ecommerce pitfalls in particular.
1. Location. Or: Failing to promote your online store
To get visitors to your online store, you need to let them know you are there. I am still surprised at the amount of entrepreneurs launching an online store who fail to realize that their website doesn’t automatically receive traffic. On the internet, it is not possible to open shop on one of the busiest high streets in the world. It is absolutely wonderful if your online store looks great – but having launched it online the real work only starts – marketing, generating traffic, attracting visitors and starting to generate sales.
If you sell shoes, for example, and open a shop on Oxford Street, the busiest shopping street of London, you will be sure to get some sales just because of the location. But it doesn’t work like that on the internet. You will need to invest in ads, affiliate marketing, and use the possibilities of social media.
2. Not being able to get a feel of and for the product
In a brick-and-mortar store it is possible to hold the product you may want to buy in your hands, look at it, and smell it. This is not possible online. You need to compensate for that by providing excellent product information and visuals. Make sure your potential customer can get a feel of and for the product. Make sure you have great product pictures which are preferably zoomable (people love to interact with your site) and that show the product from different sides. Video also works great. Make sure that it all loads quickly though, people are today very intolerant towards slow websites. Write original texts and, wherever possible, don’t use the standard texts from your supplier, it really matters!
To get a better and more fun brand experience, think about what you put in the box that you send to your customers. I send palm seeds along with my hammocks – for those who don’t have two palm trees to hang their hammock yet. They just need to add some water and have a couple of years’ patience 😉 Another example: I recently ordered something through an online store selling kitchenware, they used edible packaging material. Such ideas really make customers remember you.
3. Fast check-out
In a brick-and-mortar store people sometimes just spend hours browsing the products on offer. When they decide to leave and pay, however, they want this process to be quick and hassle-free. In a store you are never asked to provide a lot of data, the payment is a bit easier to make than online so there is no reason to get a lot of data from the customers.
Online, people favour a fast shopping experience. They may still spend quite some time browsing what your online store has on offer, but when checking out they want to leave as quickly as possible. If they need to register an account and enter a lot of data, this may really be a reason for this client to leave your store – without making a purchase. Organize your check-out well!
Wednesday 31 December – the last day of 2014 – I will publish a blog post on three more potential pitfalls in ecommerce. Stay tuned, also for the upcoming e-book!