Today, online shopping is replacing traditional shopping in nearly all spheres of life. Many offline stores are closing, leaving for the virtual world, or at least acquiring a strong presence on the web. Users can order any product without leaving their homes and save a lot of time, which is key for their shopping experience.
For business owners, the cost of managing an e-commerce business is very different from the cost of running an offline store. After all, there is no need to buy or rent premises and cash register equipment, pay salaries to many employees, etc. But despite the advantages, there are pitfalls in any area, and below we consider 10 of them.
1. Possible problems with the system
When an online store isn’t available to users, there are no sales. If you don’t use reliable hosting, problems are inevitable. Moreover, there is a threat of hacking. When business owners want to save on security, it results in the loss of valuable data and a negative reputation too. Especially if the website stores the credit card information of your customers.
The breach where people’s financial data gets stolen, is not just an avalanche of unhappy customers. It’s a potential lawsuit, loss of great sums, and a tainted name to work against all the time.
Thus, a perfectly working site as well as security and fraud protection are vital. One of the hardest parts is choosing an e-commerce hosting provider that can keep your business safe and available at all times. Pick a website provider that can really guarantee all this, as clients won’t come back after a disappointing experience.
2. Lengthy checkout
Speaking of user experience issues, pay extra attention to the checkout process. If it’s hard to complete, a customer is likely to ditch your website and company altogether. The great appeal of online shopping to a traditional experience is how fast and easy it is. There is an immediate satisfaction of clicking a few times and getting your products in a few days. For example, with a write my essay service, you can enjoy a short straightforward sign-up process
Since you still have to give many instructions and details, some sites even offer a support manager to complete the order form for you. But the lengthy checkout form just cancels it all out. Especially if a customer has spent hours on your website and is ready to be done with a purchase. Keep the form simple. Split it into sections to make it easy on the eyes:
- personal contacts
Provide standard options for delivery and payment types, so the customer can choose without typing it themselves. And if there is any additional information to the order, you should always have a comments section. Thus, you’ll be keeping customers happy by fulfilling any of their requests.
3. Great competition
The web removes any geographic barriers to a company’s growth. But to achieve your goals, you will have to compete with serious players who work with professional marketers, designers, SEO optimizers and copywriters.
If you don’t have a high position in search results, an influx of users isn’t guaranteed. Remember: the competition is fierce in the most popular niches. That’s why you need knowledge, hard work and, of course, investments.
There are thousands of online stores, so it can be difficult for new businesses to stand out from the crowd. However, don’t let the competition keep you from realizing your ambitions.
Focus on delivering high-quality products and organizing all business processes right from the start. With a brilliant marketing strategy, you will certainly save your business from dying, and you will also be a good example for other beginner entrepreneurs.
4. Difficulties with delivery
Delivery time is the biggest challenge that e-commerce stores face. Some guarantee that the product will be sent on the day it was bought, but many stores simply can’t offer such services. Until you find a way to ship your orders fast, the competition will outperform you.
You must develop an effective delivery strategy and consider:
- Delivery costs;
- Packaging – why not order a custom one for your items?
- Delivery company – the service you use determines the overall operation and management of the shipment;
- International shipping – you must prepare the necessary documents and figure out who will pay duties and taxes;
- Return policies and refunds.
Implementing the wrong shipping strategy can harm your business. On the one hand, you can lose customers if you charge high shipping fees. However, covering all expenses on your own can also negatively affect the growth of your business.
If you want to avoid such problems, be sure to calculate all the possible costs and offer customers a transparent shipping procedure on your website.
5.The inability to try out the product
The major issue of online shopping is buying without trying. A customer is likely to be reluctant to purchase something if they are not sure it will meet their expectations.
Some online stores have solved this issue by implementing virtual fitting rooms and augmented reality technologies on their websites to ensure a product can be viewed from any angle. Yet, there are still qualities you just cannot experience online. For example, the feel of the fabric. There is no fun in buying a flattering sweater that itches.
Yes, AR technology allows buyers to try on the product. But sometimes, due to technical limitations, AR is far from the real experience. Notably, it’s not only clothes and shoes. Think about trying out makeup products online. The color rendering on your screen alone will complicate things. And that’s why offline retail is still popular, especially for more expensive products.
6. Updating inventory
If you don’t want to lose potential clients and get negative reviews, keep an eye on the inventory and products presented on your website. With online shops, it’s much easier to forget to discontinue the item that is not in stock anymore, thus, resulting in very uncomfortable conversations with a customer. And the overall disappointment.
Even though a loyal customer might return to you after a situation like this, a new client is unlikely to do so. Especially if they had their heart set on that specific item. It’s important to remember that people do not like their hopes being brought up for nothing. Someone could have had an out-of-stock item on their wishlist for quite some time.
And that’s a major pitfall of the online shopping experience. So, updating inventory and checking your website for irrelevant products is a must. In e-commerce, you have to prove your products’ worth, as the only thing a customer sees is a picture.
7. A big number of returns
Since buyers can’t test your products directly, you must be prepared to accept product returns. To ensure your customers have the best shopping experience, your store should have a return policy. Make sure it clearly states what your customers can expect from you in terms of procedures and return requirements.
Note that a customer will be suspicious of any online store without a return policy. In e-commerce, you cannot guarantee that a product will satisfy your client. It might not fit them, maybe they expect the color to be a different hue, or the product came damaged. All of that can happen. And that prompts a larger number of returns than with traditional stores.
Moreover, people usually feel more comfortable ordering and returning their products without physical contact. All they have to do is ship it back and get a refund. You’ve probably already heard tons of YouTubers casually mentioning that they will just return the item in haul videos. And even though a customer has a right to do so, it does not make an online seller’s life easier.
8. Internet marketing and promotion costs
A physical store needs to run promotions and create an atmosphere to get people to stop by. But in the case of e-commerce, it is necessary to generate traffic, which usually takes more time. Getting good traffic can take months. Being noticed on the web and getting into potential customers’ recommendations is quite a challenge.
Online sales involve large investments in marketing, building a sales funnel, attracting targeted traffic, and retargeting, i.e. returning customers to the site. The owner of an online store should use every possible promotion channel to succeed. That means having active and attractive socials yourself and posting about your business regularly.
Notably, getting on the good side of the algorithm takes not only time but sometimes pure luck. So, there is a lot that needs to be done on searching for the relevant keywords to use in your posts and promotional content. But if the marketing research is done well and you’re staying consistent with posting, your efforts will be rewarded.
9. It’s harder to earn customers’ trust
If the store exists offline, then buyers see that it operates legally. However, if the store opens on the Internet, then it will have to prove its reliability to customers. This is an additional investment, as such a business needs positive user reviews and a great online reputation. And there is a lot of work to do for earning your client’s trust here.
Anybody can get an Instagram business account and start selling things. But how to convince a customer that you’re a legit business? Well, be prepared to develop a thick skin for e-commerce. When you get some criticism or suspicion, disabling comments or ignoring harsh messages is not an option. It only makes you look twice as guilty.
So, you have to be prepared to settle every matter rationally and calmly. It is vital for gaining customer loyalty and showing that they can trust you. Especially when it comes to setbacks. Besides, you should be on the lookout for copycats. It’s a common practice for scammers to pretend to be other people’s business. If you find anyone doing that to your business, inform your customers immediately. Or it could badly damage your reputation.
10. Commission fees
Typically, payments are made through platforms like PayPal and others. They charge a fixed percentage for every payment that customers make. This can be a disadvantage for a business owner who has a limited budget. Especially if you’re just starting. Usually, you’ve already had to prepare yourself for at least a year without a solid profit.
And even though it’s true for all newly emerged business owners, online stores have some hidden costs that are not talkies much about. Like commissions to pay for an online marketplace. For example, Etsy will take a 6,5% commission from your every sale. Still, it’s one of the greatest platforms for creative digital nomads to monetize their hobbies.
Thus, there are inevitable sacrifices to make. Granted, you can choose platforms that don’t charge you. But they have their pitfalls. As mentioned, it’s much harder to make people buy from an Instagram account than an online marketplace. So, you’re paying a commission for automatic credibility. Yet, it doesn’t benefit your budget much in the first years.
To wrap it up
As a business strategy, e-commerce can reach anywhere in the world. However, e-commerce still has disadvantages and it is better to take them into account before starting such a business. Make sure that all of your servers work right and that the checkout form is user-friendly. Mind great competition on the web not only with start-ups but already established brands.
Do not neglect logistics issues when shipping out orders. Take into account the inability to try your products, the necessity to upgrade inventory on the website, and a larger number of returns. There are also downsides like finding the right online marketing strategy and earning your customers’ trust. Finally, mind hidden costs like commissions from PayPal or online marketplaces.