The online shop is like an angelic beauty with a glowing halo attracting aspiring entrepreneurs to a land of gold. What’s more tempting is that an online shop is cheap to run, it will be your shop, your business and you can do it all today, quickly and easily. The online shop represents freedom.
In reality though, that angelic beauty is a devil in disguise who’s literally planning on your demise.
This article is not to discourage anyone from taking the plunge into self-employment, opening an online shop or living their own dream. Most start-up online shops commonly make these mistakes and that’s why this article is here for you, to highlight the reality of running an online shop so you can make your dash for freedom a success.
7 start-up mistakes that online shops make.
1. You need a window display
Most start-up online shops invest in an initial web design but don’t realise that an online shop needs new graphics on a weekly basis (its your shop window). In addition, every product photo needs to be shot, cropped, cut and optimised in the correct dimensions in order to display well. This is an ongoing job from day one yet it’s an overlooked area prior to launch. Give it a month and you’ll realise yourself that you need design support.
2. It’s a full time job and you need technical help
You can juggle an online shop with other employment but you’re going to need support, preferably technical support because your shop will be a full time problem. Forget about problems with orders or customers, your main problems will be upgrading the shop, fixing technical problems, setting up shipping and tax which is all made to look easy but in reality it all needs a technical hand to work properly.
Your shop needs to be maintained and it’s a full time job so don’t make the mistake of leaving out technical support.
3. Your customers don’t want you
With a real shop you can use footfall to pull in some customers and many newbie retailers thinks it’s the same online. It’s not. You will need to be relentless with marketing to make a single sale and it will all cost money, a lot of money.
Utilise every resource you have from friends to family and social media to adwords, networking and stalls to ebay and flyers to promote your online shop.
Budget in a marketing plan and make sure you market hard.
In addition to the above you’ll be facing 1million and 1 competitors. Some of them are big and spend millions on marketing and some are small with lots of experience. Don’t think you’re the only one out there because as soon as you start selling you’ll find out that no ones buying from you because their buying from a competitor instead. Don’t underestimate the market or overestimate your originality.
5. The long haul
Shops rarely become successes over night. It took Amazon 7 years to become profitable.
Be prepared for the long haul.
Choose your CMS carefully. There are a lot of options available today but I’ve seen some older e-commerce operations face a multitude of problems because the client was misinformed in the past or maintenance was not factored in.
Your product will have an affect on the chosen CMS but in general try and use a specific shop based CMS. Sold as a service are good options to get going and relieve some of the pressure of start-up and maintenance costs.
7. Theres no overheads
In terms of work, an online shop is no different then a bricks and mortar shop. It needs just as much, time, effort and investment to be a success. The difference is that with a real shop, everything is physical. You’ll have physical problems that you can see and solve such as fittings, cash registers and electric bills. With an online shop you’ll have just as many problems except their all technical which may be beyond your visual eye.
An online shop costs just as much to run (if not more) then a real shop.
Bonus Tip: Product Vs price
Theres an argument as to whether you’ll need to spend on branding and a good web design. Some will say “it’s a mistake, you don’t need to”. Others will say “it’s imperative for e-commerce”. To be honest, your main goal will be to bring in sales regardless.
Good branding and web design is important for an online retailer because it shows professionalism and trust. People trust good design as oppose to bad but online shops without professional branding and design have been known to succeed. They do so by being niche and/or competing on price.
If your business plan is to undercut and be the cheapest then you can start-up without investing in design because people will only be buying from you based on the fact that your cheap. If your business has a USP then branding and design is a must.
Regardless of what route you take, don’t make the mistake of not investing in design, marketing or technical help altogether. You will need to invest in all of them at least a little to make an online shop.
You can read more about your e-commerce options by reading :