Setting up an eCommerce website is a challenging task for many especially, if you are a small business with limited resources. If don’t have previous experience with setting up an eCommerce store or website, there are many things that could go left when you want them to go right. Here are six pitfalls many small business owners encounter when they start an eCommerce store.

Know Your Mission

Before you start thinking about an eCommerce store, you need to understand what your goals are. Have a clear and realistic idea of what you want to get out of this new venture. How will plan to handle any unexpected and over whelming growth and demand? and How you will correct any strategic failures or hiccups.

You need to know your audience, their demographics, and what they are interested in before you can think about what products they want or need. Research! You also need to research and become familiar with who your competitors are (direct and indirect) and how they are successful or what sets you apart from them. From there, you can start to situate your website’s mission.

Be Prepared For The Work Ahead

Much like managing any physical store front, office, kiosk, or pop-up taking care of your eCommerce store requires a lot of work. Not only is setting the store up a huge endeavor, but you need to prepare for the resources that will be required to maintain it. You must provide customer service, and fix any problems that may arise for your customers.

Once you realize and prepare for the work involved to maintain the store, it is a good idea to educate any key team members involved in all of the store’s processes on how your stores shipping, inventory and content management systems work. This way you do not need to outsource any of these tasks to another company or outside person. It’s all done ‘in house’.

Choosing The Right Platform

The platform you place your eCommerce store on is as important as finding the perfect location for a physical store. With so many softwares available on the market, choosing the perfect one can be a tedious task, but necessary. If you choose software that doesn’t fit your needs, not only will you be frustrated with the lack of functionality, but more importantly, your customers will be frustrated as well.

The platform needs to function easily with your products, your fulfillment processes, your brand, your management team, and your customers. You can either choose a hosted site, such as Shopify.com or Etsy.com which offers limited control, or create a custom e-commerce websites using software such as Cs-Cart. Oorjit and Wix are also great platforms that do not require to much knowledge of HTML and design, yet still allow you to edit content, customize, have control of purchases and customer service. Asking questions is a great way to figure out which one is right for you.

Design That Hits the Mark

For the best conversion rate your customer experience must be streamlined. From the home page to checkout, the experience needs to have as few steps as possible to avoid cart abandonment. For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What do you look for when shopping online? Make it easy for yourself. Less is more and in this case, simplicity is your best friend.

When thinking about product images or other visual elements make them count! This is the only view of your store the customer is going to get. Use high quality photos, consistent in style and size (large), and inviting. Include detailed product descriptions next to each photo that are informative and answer every question you can think your customer may have about the product. This reduces the number of calls or inquirers about product specs.

Marketing Strategy

You need to have a marketing strategy planned so you can start earning ROI (return on investment) from your eCommerce store. There are many easy and affordable ways to market. Social media marketing is a speedy way to spread the word. Email marketing is a great way of leveraging your existing customer base. Don’t forget discounts for referrals and ‘Word of Mouth’ benefits or incentives!. You can also use third party re-sellers on different platforms, such as eBay, or insome cases Zulilly, Groupon, etc to increase market penetration.

Tracking Your Efforts

Most importantly, you need to track the efforts you are making with your eCommerce store. If nothing other, at least integrate your store with a Google Analytics account. You gain an enormous amount of insight about your success from on-page Analytics. Additionally, you should understand the difference between organic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and paid PPC (Pay-Per Click), as well as implement strategies, reporting and budgets for both. This requires a little more investment as far time and money if you choose to got with PPC. There are many successful eCommerce sites that do not use SEO or PPC, but they also do not get as much traffic. Using Google analytics to prove this point is a great way to see if it’s right for you.

Regardless of what you are selling on your eCommerce store, take the time to research so you can build and deliver the store effectively to maximise your ROI.

Brenda Del Granado