We explore how to bridge the gap between one’s expectations versus the reality of owning an online store.
In today’s business environment, many people think that setting up an eCommerce store is a quick an easy way to make money online. They believe that all they need to do is choose a product, set up a website, and start selling. However, there can be significant differences between one’s expectations and the reality of setting up an eCommerce store.
To be really successful in eCommerce takes time, effort, learning new skills and a significant amount of planning. You may have to overcome many challenges before you can build a successful an sustainable business. Creating an online store also involves getting to know your target audience very well, and then building your store and marketing strategy to fit that customer.
If you are currently thinking of going down the eCommerce route, here are some of the expectations versus reality of eCommerce that you should keep in mind.
1. I can set up an online store quickly and easily
Setting up an online store takes time and effort, especially if you want to do it right. You’ll need to choose the right platform, create a visually appealing website, develop a marketing strategy, and manage inventory and order fulfillment. There are many eCommerce platforms available, each with its own set of pros and cons. It’s essential to research and choose the platform that is best suited for your needs and budget.
2. eCommerce is a quick way to make money
Many people who start their businesses assume that they can get rich quickly. But just because you have an online store doesn’t mean customers will automatically find it. You can’t just sit back and relax once your shop is launched. You need to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, perhaps even paid advertising and other tactics to drive traffic and sales. It may be easy to build an online store but standing out from the crowd and attracting customers is a different ballgame especially in such a competitive industry.
3. I can sell anything and make a profit.
While eCommerce offers a lot of opportunities to sell products, not everything is suitable for online sales. Selling products online requires careful research and planning to ensure you are selling products that people want to buy and that you can make a profit on. Some products are better suited for in-person sales or may not be popular enough to sell online. You’ll also need to consider factors such as product cost, shipping fees, and competition.
4. Social media is enough to promote my online store
It’s fair to think that social media is the marketing holy grail in today’s society. The truth is, however, that social media alone is not enough. While social media can be a valuable tool for promoting your online store, it doesn’t essentially work for everything and everyone. There is a lot of competition on social media, and it can be challenging to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Social media algorithms can also limit the reach of your posts, making it difficult to reach new customers. Companies and business owners should not forget other areas such as email marketing, search engine marketing, search engine optimization and even traditional marketing and paid advertising to reach a wider audience. By leveraging multiple channels, you can reach a wider audience, build your brand, and drive sales more effectively.
5. I just have to set up my store and it’ll take care of itself
Your online store may cost less to operate and require a much smaller investment than a physical store, but some maintenance and upgrades will be required from time to time. Running an online store requires ongoing effort, including managing inventory and order fulfillment, providing customer support, and staying on top of website updates. As traffic starts increasing, new features may be required, and additional marketing investments may need to be made. During heavy periods such as special occasions and holidays, certain stores may also experience very heavy traffic flow, and therefore it is important that your online store is equipped to handle such loads.
6. I should handle my online store like a physical shop
Like a physical shop, it’s essential to provide an excellent customer experience in your online store. This includes creating a user-friendly website, offering high-quality products, and providing excellent customer support. However, you will also need to consider the critical differences between running an online store versus a brick and mortar shop. Whilst a counter transaction ends once the client is out of the door, an online transaction is where the bulk of the work starts. You have to think of the item pickup, packing, delivery and so on. You may also encounter an increase in the volume of customer contacts either by email, phone or social media encountering issues with the product.
Overall, setting up an eCommerce store can be a challenging but rewarding experience if you are prepared to put in the work and resources required to make it successful. It’s essential to have realistic expectations, set shot-term achievable goals, and be prepared to put in the time and effort required to set your business up for long-term success.
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