6 E-commerce Startup Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

By guest author Nick Rojas

Whether building a website to complement an existing brick-and-mortar store or establishing a new e-commerce business from the ground up, entrepreneurs seem to make a lot of the same mistakes when starting out in e-commerce. Here is a look at six of the most common errors new e-commerce businesses make, and a few tips on how to avoid falling into the same traps.

1. Not Optimizing Page Speed

With a direct and inarguable link between load time, traffic and conversions, there’s no way around it – you need a fast website.

Google, when testing load time differences between pages with 10 search results and 30 search results, experienced a 20 percent decrease in traffic to the 30-result pages due to just a half second increase in load time.

In another study, Walmart.com found that conversions increased by 2 percent with every second of boosted page speed. Firefox increased downloads by 15.4 percent with a decrease of 2.2 seconds in average load time.

There are several tools, such as Google PageSpeed Tools, available to help you measure and optimize your page load times. If you haven’t already, prioritize load speed as a major site upgrade.

2. Neglecting Email Campaigns

It is natural to focus on building a great website, but email is still the most cost-effective way to get visitors to that site once it exists.

Inefficiently managing email lists is one of the seven most common mistakes that sink ecommerce startups, according to Entrepreneur.

Business 2 Community reminds online entrepreneurs to go beyond the basics by, among other things:

  • Running A/B testing on subject lines just as you would email messages
  • Sending autoresponder emails that give customers an incentive to leave a review
  • Preparing seasonal calendars and schedules before the rush of the busy season
  • Using cart abandonment emails to recover as much as a quarter of your hottest leads — those who made it to the shopping cart before abandoning the purchase.

3. Choosing the Wrong Social Channels

Social media is a great tool for boosting exposure and growing your brand. Yet so many e-commerce sites make the mistake of not choosing the social platforms best suited for their brand, product or service.

Avoid wasting precious time and resources by following this basic tutorial:

  • Facebook: Ideal for targeted advertising of services and products.
  • Twitter: Twitter is brand neutral — it is the creativity and cleverness of your content that will determine whether your campaign succeeds or fails.
  • Pinterest: Ideal for beauty, fashion and food brands.
  • Instagram: Potentially high rewards for businesses that sell attractive physical products.
  • LinkedIn: A great place to showcase company news and culture

4. Failing to Optimize for Mobile

Hopefully anyone creating an e-commerce business is aware of the avalanche of statistics regarding the importance — and outright dominance — of mobile. Considering that total activity on tablets and smartphones accounts for 62 percent of digital media time spent, it’s a given that your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices. Shopify offers the following mobile e-commerce tips:

  • Consider replacing the standard variant drop-down menu with real photography to make it easier for users to view all available styles or colors
  • Include a sticky add-to-cart button on all product pages
  • Use minimal text on product pages
  • Showcase product images
  • Integrate a fixed navigation bar into your mobile design

5. Launching Website Too Soon

Rushing the launch of an e-commerce website is a common error that can be hard to undo. The site is simply not ready before the foundation of social media, SEO, paid advertising and content marketing has been built.

Online merchants should resist the pull of excitement or competitor anxiety that drives so many to launch prematurely. Buy your preferred domain name and publish a simple, unique “coming soon” page while building up to your launch.

6. Failing to Collect Enough Data

Data collection is among the most critical — and sensitive — aspects of succeeding with an e-commerce site. Shoppers are naturally reluctant to hand over personal information — and with good reason. Whether you’re attempting to collect email or social media profile information from customers, avoid using complicated language, which can be intimidating and confusing.

Reassure your customers that you take their privacy seriously, and tell them exactly how their data will — and will not — be used.

About the Author:

Nick RojasPart journalist, part business consultant, Nick Rojas puts his enterprise smarts to the test. You’ll find him living in Chicago and LA, sharing his passion for technology, marketing and social media at all points in between. When he’s not molding successful ventures, he’s hanging beachside with his dog Presto.

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