The 5 Most Common Traps of Selling Online and How to Avoid Them : Whatever your business idea, the Internet offers a great opportunity for you to reach new goals and customers from anywhere at any time. However, growing and developing your business requires planning and strategic steps in order to avoid basic mistakes when getting started. In fact, there are many little traps along the way that could slow you down or prevent your business from succeeding. The following five points will help you and your online business understand these traps and give ideas on how to avoid them.
1. Not identifying your offering nor differentiating it from your competitors
You need to ask yourself some simple questions right at the beginning to avoid the first common trap: What is special about my business? What is different about my offering that others do not have? Is it your product? Your customer service? Whatever it is, it is more than advisable to have a closer look at your competitors and understand how they are selling their products and talking to your potential customers.
To build a good positioning, you first need to figure out what makes your business idea unique and how you can bring this difference into your shop communication. It is also important to understand your differentiation and compare it with how your competitors position and communicate themselves. That will lead you to finding out what you are doing that they don’t, or what you don’t do that you should be doing.
Analysing trends and developments, researching and always keeping an eye on your competitors will give you a very sharp idea of how to position yourself successfully.
2. Thinking of marketplaces as nice-to-have and not as a must have:
Is your online shop enough or is it appropriate to sell also through marketplaces like Amazon or eBay? The answer is that it really depends on your type of products, the competition in your category, your will to pay marketplace fees, the restrictions and so on.
However, for online newbies it has some clear advantages to start introducing your products to new customers and prospects. Lets face it, nobody would visit Amazon or eBay specifically looking for your products. However, while looking for a certain item they may end up seeing and discovering your products, or even purchasing them. Once you have your customer’s foot in the door, even if it is through a marketplace, you have a chance to engage with them through good customer support.
We are not saying that you need to sell through marketplaces; rather that it depends on your strategy and if it benefits your business case. Each marketplace has its own structure, its own processes and limitations but you can definitely benefit by generating traffic and creating a new distribution channel to boost your sales.
3. Offering only one payment method:
The payment options you present to your customers are part of your offer. So, if your customers visit your site and don’t find certain payment methods to checkout, it is very likely that they will abandon your shop without purchasing anything.
Facts show that customers expect a variety of several payment options on the checkout page when it comes to finalising a purchase. There are many choices out there and it does not mean you should offer all of them. Knowing which ones your competitors are using may give you an idea on what your shop should concentrate on.
However, starting with the basics is not a bad idea either: credit card and PayPal are by far the most common options in the eCommerce ecosystem. Other payment integrations like Authorize.net or Stripe are getting more and more popular. Whatever you choose, you need to stay aware of the cultural differences when it comes to selling in different countries. What works in one country, might not work in other ones.
4. Considering internationalization as a no go area
Selling your products abroad is technically quite easy by selling online. It can broaden your reach to customers increasing revenue and taking your business idea to the next step. What you first need to do is to define where you want to sell your products in order to start adapting your site to that new market. For example, if you are living in the US and want to sell abroad, the simplest and easiest step would be to start selling to Canada and the UK. Guess why! Having a common language, you will avoid a lot of work and headaches when it comes to adapting the content on your site.
In any case, before picking one international market, think of your business possibilities and your resources as well as analyse in which one your product would integrate and sell easiest.
Remember that localisation is not just about getting the language right. It involves everything from making sure the content and selling proposition have been adapted for different cultures, to choosing the right web domain and keywords to target your potential customers properly.
5. Thinking that delivering your products means just to ship them:
When it comes to handling your orders, delivery plays a very important role. This does not only mean how fast you can deliver an item, but also how much a customer has to pay for delivery. In that sense, you need to consider how you want to convince your customers: maybe you prefer to offer one unique option but free of costs, or maybe offer two different delivery options (e.g.: standard and express). There are many options and it normally depends on how you prefer to handle your business.
Whatever you decide, communicate these costs in your online store. Customers don’t want to be surprised during the checkout process. In addition, if you have a physical store you can easily benefit from it! Have your customers visit your store by offering store pickup. Customers living nearby your shop would really appreciate this free option and might even purchase another item Have you ever thought of individualizing your packaging? Instead of a blank package and some filling material, you could add a nice customized note. This personal touch will increase the positive experience your customers have with the product. Who doesn’t like receiving a nice note with their order that they have been excited to receive? Having a fully integrated brand through all your communication channels such as website, packaging and emails shows that you care about your customers and will add some loyalty points.
eCommerce is a great way for you to expand your customer base and your revenues, as well as a great platform to start your business. After all, all big companies were once start-ups, so it is worth the time and effort to set up your online store gradually and be prepared to build it slowly but surely.