The emergence of the internet has dramatically lowered the start-up costs of a business. Before then, starting a store or business essentially meant a ton of extraneous costs, such as a deposit on a shopfront, monthly rentals and insurance fees, not to mention the hiring of staff to operate the business day in and day out. Now, however, it’s possible to build a powerful online business directly from your home, with nothing more than a laptop, an internet connection and some business acumen. This doesn’t make it easy; there are a number of pitfalls that soon-to-be business owners often make before their business has even taken off. We’ll discuss them below.
Having poor online infrastructure
When it comes to an online business, the user interface is everything. If a customer visits your site and finds it cumbersome and difficult to navigate or if there is anything that is impeding them from purchasing the goods or services they’re after, the percentage of a successful transaction drops dramatically. Your website, online infrastructure, payment system and data security need to be flawless. If you’re not skilled enough with code to build a website from the ground up, then opt for purchasing ready-made templates from web providers like 1&1. These are good for two reasons: they save you time and they save you money, two resources which can be redirected into your business plan and give your store a greater chance of success.
In addition, you should consider selling through an established platform as well as having your own store. Many online businesses take-off when they have the marketing muscle of the likes of Amazon or Etsy behind them. They key is to keep experimenting until you find out what works best for your business.
Ignoring customer service
Customers are everything, because without them, your business is nothing more than an empty road without traffic. Therefore, they should be treated like gold. They’re notoriously fickle and can easily take their business elsewhere, so any opportunity to keep them on your site should be maximised, and every opportunity to provide help should be offered. Have an FAQ section, respond promptly to emails and make a telephone number available for emergencies. If you’ve got a bit more of a budget, you can also employ live chat to deal with any real-time queries, or even an AI chatbot to deliver helpful information in your absence.
Not utilising social media
Even in the wake of various Facebook scandals, social media is still one of the best ways of reaching out, communicating with and finding new customers. The reach offered to any new business is incredible, and one that should not be ignored. While various marketing campaigns on the platforms might cost money, the start-up costs are free, so signing up is a no-brainer as it could bag you those valuable first customers who help get your business off the ground.
Find out which social media platforms your target customers hang out on and make sure that you have a presence there. If you have a visual, lifestyle-based product then these days you have to be on Instagram. It’s not unusual for lifestyle businesses to make most of their sales directly from the platform.
It’s never been easier to set-up an online store, but if you don’t get those basics right you’ll be wasting more than your time. Make the most of the technology now available to make your online store the best that it can be.