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Mistakes You Should Avoid When Launching an E-Commerce Business

You’re ready to be your own boss, and you have an idea you think holds serious water. You’ve spoken to trusted colleagues, bounced your business idea off every discerning stranger you could find and even successfully peddled your concept on various niche forums.

You should be all set to launch your business then—right?

Well, maybe.

E-commerce has allowed many aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into reality, however the majority of e-commerce stores fail. To ensure your business isn’t one of those, let’s discuss mistakes you should avoid when launching an e-commerce business.

Does the Math Add Up?

You may think your business idea is sound, and it very well may be — but unless you’ve crunched the numbers, you’re playing a guessing game. Consider this simple equation to gauge the potential profitability of your business model:

Profit = Demand * (Revenue – Expenses)

You might already know your business idea generates a lot of demand, but if your expenses are too close to your revenue, you’ll need to sell a high-volume to make money. Think grinding away at a job you hate is hard? Try working around the clock to satisfy your customers while barely making money.

That is a sure-fire recipe for burnout, failure—or both.

Not Understanding the Market and Your Competitors Enough

Again, your business idea could make a lot of sense, it could even be very profitable based on the above equation. However, profit potential doesn’t mean as much if there are already five established competitors in your niche (or even one if they’re a giant in the marketplace). Before you invest time and money into your business, be aware of whom you’ll be competing against and whether you can eat into their business based on your unique value proposition, branding and overall store experience.

Not Delegating

Your business is your baby and nobody knows how to execute it like you. But if you try to do everything yourself, you won’t accomplish much — or what you do accomplish won’t be to the quality you need. You’ll also drive yourself crazy in the process. The most overworked people generally are those who fail to delegate. Meanwhile, running an e-commerce business will take up a lot of your time. To be successful, you’ll need to trust other people to take care of certain things.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel Unless There’s a Specific Reason For It

When you’re planning your store launch, it’s tempting to want to customize everything. From your  shopping cart and site navigation, to fancy motion graphics and product layout, you want each detail to “pop” and give customers the feeling they belong on your site. However, putting energy into these things right off the bat can be a waste of time, as well as detrimental to your business.

For example, consider how much time and money custom coding your store will cost, when all you really need is a simple, user-friendly layout that could be accomplished by using one of the best e-commerce website builders. This isn’t to say there aren’t unique cases for hard-coding your own site, but when you’re just starting out, going the long route is usually unnecessary.

Not Knowing How You’ll Acquire Customers

Contrary to the Field of Dreams mantra, if you build a store, patrons will not automatically arrive. You need to have a plan for how you’re going to acquire your customers. Between social media, content marketing, SEO, SEM, email, affiliate marketing, etc., there are a lot of ways to generate traffic and increase conversions. You’ll likely end up doing a combination of these things, but you need to understand how all these channels will come together to spread brand awareness, gain more traffic and win customers.

Depending upon your specific business idea and model, there’ll be plenty of other potential pitfalls lurking. This is part of what makes e-commerce so interesting (and challenging). While you can’t plan around every mistake, the above are mistakes you should avoid when launching an e-commerce business.  

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