Building an ecommerce business has always been tough. In the early days, the problem was the lack of technology. Fleshing out online systems was challenging, and most merchants and payment companies simply wouldn’t work with people selling over the internet.
Today, the challenge is still there, just in a different form. It’s not the technology that’s the problem – that’s amazing. The issue is the sheer competition. There’s an entrepreneur in virtually every niche. As such, many leaders are finding that their concepts and approaches just aren’t working. The competitive environment means they just can’t afford to make mistakes.
That’s where this post can help. We take a look at why some of your ecommerce business ideas aren’t working and how you can fix them and get back on the path to success.
Being inflexible and resistant to change is a major headwind for anyone looking to get into the ecommerce space. If you can’t adapt to the situation around you, you won’t go far. Competitors will run away with the business from you, and you’ll be left picking up the crumbs.
Ecommerce entrepreneurs don’t become inflexible because of the competition. Instead, it usually comes from faulty thinking. Bosses believe that business needs to be done in a certain way for them to succeed.
If that sounds like you, there are things you can do. If you personally struggle with flexibility and changing your mind on things, you could delegate that task to other people in your firm. Fostering a culture of adaptability encourages staff to try new things when the time comes.
You can also try working with a mentor to see what lies behind your inflexibility. If you can find out what’s wrong or what’s holding you back, you can address it.
You might also be struggling to gain traction with your ecommerce business because of legal issues. Companies often find it hard to move forwards if regulatory hurdles are getting in the way. Fines and lawsuits can eventually mount and lead to business closure.
That’s why it is critical to remain informed about the latest laws and regulations. Knowing what you are getting yourself into helps you to anticipate what might happen next and whether you should involve yourself with a specific line of business. You should consider strategically the legal aspects of what you want to do. Think about how the public and politicians will react long-term, even if there are no hurdles currently in the way. Ask whether the political dynamic could change and whether you are ready for that.
Lack Of Funding
Ecommerce business ideas can also get into trouble through lack of funding. Failing to provide enough money means that many companies never achieve the critical mass they need to succeed and thrive.
This lack of funding is often evident from the start. However, it can bleed into years two and three in larger enterprises, looking to expand faster.
Lacking sufficient funding limits growth and prevents proper marketing. It also gets in the way of developing a robust ecommerce website that can cope with the intended traffic levels.
How you deal with this issue is very much up to you. Make sure you have a realistic budget and secure adequate funding before you commit. Explain to investors your time horizons and how much they need to put down for your business to work. Also, explain how you will succeed, given the competition already in the market. What is it that you will do differently?
Failing To Take Advantage Of New Technology
Another reason why your ecommerce business idea might not be working is that you’re failing to adapt to or use technological innovations. The ecommerce space doesn’t remain static. Instead, the technologies behind it change all the time. For example, we recently saw the emergence of new ad platforms on these websites, enabling managers to earn additional revenues through new schemes. We also saw the advent of recommendation engines, one-click payments, and other innovations that sweeten the deal for customers.
Needless to say, many of these innovations are now mainstream. Therefore, companies not using them risk being left behind by the competition. Customers are more likely to use sites that offer the best service instead of those that can’t meet their needs immediately.
The trick to these issues is to work with an experienced ecommerce developer who understands how to implement the technology. Bringing in professional partners prevents your business from sliding into irrelevance and ensures that it can keep pace with the demands being placed on it. You can innovate rapidly and respond to new advances as they arrive, such as AI.
Your ecommerce business idea also might fall flat because of perceived or actual security problems. Customers may be unwilling to hand over personal payment information if they don’t know who you are or what security measures you have put in place to keep them safe. Shopping with you might be seen as a risk to them, particularly if you are not using advanced payment protocols and channels.
Fortunately, the solution to this issue is pretty easy: just implement secure SSL encryption and third-party payment tools. The more of these you can provide, the less likely customers are to abandon their carts when they get to the checkout.
You should also consider including clear privacy policies on your website and in tooltips throughout the transaction process. Convincing prospective customers you are keeping their data safe is an excellent way to encourage them to spend more at your store.
Ecommerce business ideas can also fail because of logistical issues. Finding it hard to manage shipping, inventory and order fulfilment means customers don’t get their products on time, undermining your business.
Logistical issues can take various forms. However, they mostly revolve around the warehouse or distribution centre. Poor processes mean you can’t manage orders properly and make deliveries on time, with customers receiving the wrong items or none at all.
Resolving these problems in-house is notoriously difficult and leads to the failure of many ecommerce businesses. Therefore, you might want to adopt a hybrid approach. You manage a few lines in-house to improve your processes while outsourcing the rest of them to a third-party with more logistical control and facilities. This way, you can build your capabilities while shifting the lion’s share of the work to a third party who really understands what it is doing.
Poor Customer Services
Another way the wheels can fall off your ecommerce business idea is a lack of customer service. You might have a fabulous business concept, but if your audiences can’t get in touch with you for clarifications, returns, questions, or assistance, then they will simply go to a competitor offering a better service. In the worst case scenario, you might experience a loss of customer trust and damaged reputation.
Dealing with this problem may require a cultural shift at your firm. You may need to reorientate staff to become customer-centric, instead of focusing on other values, like efficiency.
You might also simply have a human resources issue. Perhaps you don’t have enough people working the phones and resolving issues with customers. Hiring more staff or using more chatbots can help with this, freeing people up to do their work more efficiently.
Finally, you might also want to consider your phone and switching systems. If these don’t work properly or can’t handle call volumes, customers are going to feel neglected by your firm.
Unoriginal Marketing Strategies
You might also find your ecommerce idea doesn’t work if you’re using unoriginal or the wrong marketing strategies. Poor quality outreach prevents your ads from reaching your intended audience and makes it harder to gain visibility and attract customers.
Ecommerce businesses need quality marketing to thrive. Without it, their products and pages will get buried under the mountain of competition and never get seen by the people who could benefit from them the most.
If your marketing strategy is unoriginal or poorly reasoned, change it. Think about how you could better appeal to the types of people most likely to buy from you. Ask what type of ecommerce brand they would respond positively to.
Poor Website Design
Another issue that could be preventing your ideas from succeeding is poor website design. Unattractive sites that are hard to navigate and lack essential features are likely to put customers off and encourage them to go elsewhere.
The reason for this has to do with trust and convenience. Customers want to feel confident using a new ecommerce website, and they want it to be easy. If they have to invest substantial time getting it to work, they will be less likely to use it and simply go back to other sites that offer a better experience overall.
You can avoid this problem by investing in a well-designed and user-friendly website. Concentrate on things like intuitive layout and fast loading times. Also, double check you include a secure checkout process so that customers are willing to come back and shop with you in the future.