Note: This Series is Dedicated to eCommerce Business Owners who are just getting started in eCommerce
You’re finally putting together your e-commerce site, and you’ve got big plan. You want a great cutting-edge look, you’re going to use state-of-the art … I don’t want to burst your bubble, but you need to step back and take a breath. E-commerce businesses can lose money and close just like a brick and mortar storefront, and for some of the very same (or similar) reasons. Let’s look at the most common mistakes ecommerce novices make so you can avoid making them yourself.
Don’t Design a Site that’s beyond your Business!
Let’s go back to brick and mortar example. Have you ever gone into a sleek new coffee shop with custom tables, an imported 4-head Italian espresso machine, WIFI and a state-of-the-art sound system, then go later and find it shuttered? The owners followed their dream of what they wanted their shop to look like, and didn’t think about the reality of what they were selling or the profit margin they were likely to make – they spent more than they could possibly make. Lots of e-commerce sites make the same mistake, investing too much on design and functions. Don’t invest beyond what’s suitable for your product. Roll out with what you need to get started and iterate as you learn from the market.
Don’t bring out the Big Guns (at least not yet)!
If you haven’t created a website before it can be intimidating, and search engine optimization definitely has a technical ring to it. But there’s no need to pay high five to six digit fees to experts in the field when there are an almost unlimited number of free or inexpensive resources available on the web clamoring for your attention. We’re doing the research and presenting it to you for free, so why not take advantage? Trust us, for a start-up e-commerce site in the beginning it’s mostly common sense. There is nothing so complicated or rare that you can’t find and understand it with a bit of online research and learning the lingo. It’s only when you’ve got your basics down that should call in an expert in the field to evaluate, improve, and advise.
Don’t Pay for Expensive Toys!
There are lots of very good analytics and measurement suites available for purchase that will crunch your numbers and tell you exactly what you need to know. But Google Analytics will do the same thing… for free. Remember, the rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t spend more than fifteen percent of your revenue on your non revenue driving e-commerce expenses. Keep everything in perspective and economize where you can.
Word of Mouth is Free!
Remember the old line about building a better mousetrap and the world will lead a path to your door? Open your e-commerce site and just watch the advertising account execs flock. There’s no need for expensive pay-per-click contracts or web ads when you can build your own buzz using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Set up a blog, Tweet out some interesting deals that people will pass on, build a free Facebook page and save your advertising money.
Remember, you’re opening your site as a portal for income, not a window for your money to fly out of. Keep your e-commerce budget in proportion to your business’ revenue.