The Top 5 E-Commerce Pitfalls To Avoid

Let’s say that you, like a lot of people, were thrown for a financial loop because of COVID-19 and decided to start an e-commerce website.


I have started four businesses myself: Two online and two offline. Three of the four have been very successful (and the other? Well, that’s a blog for another day.) But I digress. What I know is that creating a startup is fun, exciting, scary, sometimes daunting, but always thrilling.

And I also know from personal experience that there is little room for error.

With money tight, and reputations on the line, e-commerce mistakes can be a killer. But the good news is that the most common pitfalls can also be avoided. So let’s look at the top e-commerce mistakes and how to do just that – avoid them.

1. Choosing the wrong platform:

There are lots of ways to create your e-commerce site. You could:

  • Build it yourself (but you definitely don’t want to), or you could
  • Hire someone to do it for you (but you definitely don’t need to), or you could
  • Go to one of several point-and-click site platforms and create one there (bingo!)

The problem with the first two options is that you will either spend too much money, or get a site that you don’t like, or both.

And that is why I am excited to have teamed up with Yahoo Small Business. Their platform is the sort of easy, intuitive, powerful site-building program that not only helps you avoid problems, but actually allows you to create the sort of beautiful, useful, robust e-commerce site that people love and which drives sales.

And isn’t that what you want?

But don’t just take it from me. According to Maria Melo, senior business advisor for Yahoo Small Business, “Having a clean, easy to use e-commerce site is essential in completing a sale. Ideally, you want your site to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers—whether they are shopping on their computer or on their phone.”

2. Not having a secure site:

Did you know that when you see a website address, the ‘s’ at the end of ‘https’ stands for “secure”? That is a customer’s way of knowing that the private information they will be sharing during the transaction (such as credit card numbers and home addresses) will remain safe, private, protected, and secure.

So you need to be sure that your site is a secure site (and yes, of course, Yahoo Small Business offers that sort of security with its e-commerce sites.)

3. Bad or wrong products:

A bad online product is one that no one wants. Or one that is too expensive. Or one where you cannot make a profit. Or one that costs too much to ship. Essentially it is a product that doesn’t move, thereby depriving you of the ongoing incoming money stream that should be yours. But a good product combined with a site built right is a recipe for success.

Conversely, a great product is one that photographs and displays well, is something people want or need, is something that is easy for you to pack and ship, and ideally, is something people will come back to buy time and again.

4. Not marketing the site.

Owning a new e-commerce site is sort of like being alone in a dark room – you know you are there, but no one else does. The only way to turn on the light and let people know you are out there is by marketing the site, and then marketing it some more, and then marketing it some more.

That marketing can and should take many forms: Pay-per-click ads, social media campaigns, e-newsletter blasts, co-marketing efforts with other sites or brands, and so on. If you want to win the e-commerce game, then marketing has to be front and center in everything you do.

5. Shipping mistakes:

A rookie mistake, and a doozy, is not accounting for shipping costs when pricing your online products. Whatever profit you imagined will quickly disappear if you don’t factor in shipping costs correctly, right from the start.

As you can see, none of these mistakes need to be lethal, and all are easily avoidable. Knowing what they are, and paying attention, will help you avoid them.

This post is sponsored by Yahoo Small Business. As always, all opinions and ideas are entirely my own.

By: Steve Strauss

Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible.

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