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5 mistakes not to make when starting an e-commerce business

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Starting an e-commerce business can be an exciting endeavor, but it also comes with many potential pitfalls for the unprepared entrepreneur. Avoid some common mistakes by steering clear of these 5 errors when launching your online store:

Not Having a Clear Brand and Messaging Strategy

One of the first things you need to establish is your brand identity and messaging. Who are you? What do you stand for? Why should customers shop with you rather than a competitor? Fail to communicate your unique value proposition and brand story across your website, product listings, emails, and other touchpoints, and you’ll struggle to connect with potential shoppers and drive sales.

Take the time upfront to Clearly articulate your brand promise, values, and personality. Ensure your logo, color scheme, messaging, and overall web design align with and reinforce your brand identity. This will help you attract your ideal audience and keep customers coming back.

Offering Too Broad or Unfocused of a Product Selection

Some e-commerce entrepreneurs fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone right out the gate. Starting with a product catalog that attempts to serve too many diverse needs with little common thread tying offerings together leads to choice overload for shoppers. From a business operations standpoint, stocking and managing inventory across disparate categories pulls resources in too many directions early on.

Rather than casting a wide net, start more narrowly focused. Identify your core target customer segment along with the key product category or selection that appeals most to them. Become an expert in merchandising those specific products, addressing common pain points, and exceeding expectations within your niche before expanding your offerings.

Not Prioritizing the Mobile Shopping Experience

Given that over 70% of e-commerce traffic now comes from smartphones, failing to optimize your online store for mobile browsers means losing out on sales. From site speed to navigation to checkout, the mobile shopping journey needs to be seamless and frustration-free.

Make mobile optimization a priority from day one. Use responsive web design so your site resizes and reflows flawlessly on any device. Check that buttons and links have adequate tap targets for fat fingers. Confirm forms and CTAs are visible without zooming. And compress images to increase load times. Going mobile-first with your design will pay dividends.

Overlooking the Importance of Quality Product Photos

E-commerce is a visual medium, so products need to put their best image forward to convert browsers into buyers. Amateurish, dull stock photos, or grainy cell phone snaps simply don’t cut it. Low-quality images scream untrustworthiness to shoppers, suppressing conversion rates.

Invest in professional lifestyle photography and crisp product close-ups. Clean backgrounds, appealing styling, attractive models, and vibrant colors should showcase your items at their aspirational best. Include multiple angles and useful detail shots as well. Compelling photography can drive emotional attachment and purchasing decisions, so don’t neglect this critical branding component.

Not Understanding Payment Processing Costs and Fees

Many new e-commerce merchants gloss over the implications of their payment processing choices when first configuring their online payment ecosystem. But payment-related costs and fees quickly eat into margins if unchecked. Common culprits diluting profitability include interchange fees, chargebacks, monthly gateway fees, PCI compliance, and foreign transaction fees.

Learn how to navigate this complex terrain through resources like our guide to understanding payment processing costs. Get clear upfront on the pricing model and fine print of whatever processor, gateway, merchant account, or payment services you onboard. Only by minimizing processing expenses can you retain maximum earnings over the long run.

Steer clear of mistakes in these 5 areas, and you’ll be off to a much smoother start on your e-commerce journey. Pay close attention to clarifying your brand strategy, focusing your merchandise mix, optimizing for mobile shoppers, showcasing products visually, and closely evaluating payment costs. Now set up your online store for success by avoiding these pitfalls from day one!

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