Here’s a shocking statistic for you: online sales are predicted to reach 16.2% more this 2015 compared to past data last 2014.
How does this translate to your status as an Ecommerce owner?
You can look at it negatively. Since the Ecommerce industry is viewed as a lucrative business, more competition may arise which means more and more companies which aim to sell the same products to the same market will be there to challenge you.
Or you can choose to look the other way and view this under a positive light. An increase in sales prediction means that more and more customers are craving for the beauty of convenience that only Ecommerce can bring.
After all, people are more prone to adapting the “always-on shopping” mode.
Whichever way you look at it – more competition or more customers – there’s no denying the fact that with increased key players in the market, you also need to step up your game to reap in the profits.
Here, we tell you the most common challenges that you, the online store owner, usually face. Don’t fret because along these challenges are the solutions you can also use to manage them efficiently:
1. Lack of Authority in the Industry
In the Internet, where Ecommerce business meanings can range from a large multinational corporation to a single manpower “company”, it may be harder for you to sell a product or offer a service which is already offered by larger retailers who have a much more significant authority than you.
Build your Ecommerce’s brand authority by focusing on the volume and quality of backlinks to your website: set up an Ecommerce blog for your brand.
Generally speaking, 30% of Ecommerce founders were using “content marketing” as an important component of their marketing campaigns.
But get this: according to the same study, it seems like “Paid & Content marketing drove similar kinds of traffic for many product types…” as you can see in the graph below.
The key here is to make sure that the content you blog isn’t product-focused all the time.
Blogging is an amazing platform to build Ecommerce authority for your business as it’s another avenue for web traffic, it’s vital to keeping your audience engaged and stay on the website more and you can even use your blog posts to send as a newsletter for lead nurturing so that you can convert them over the long run.
Take it from this kitchen goods supplier, Williams-Sonoma, which has several blog posts which shares amazing recipes such as Grilled Eggplant Stuffed with Bulgur, Feta and Pine Nuts and Nectarines with Arugula and Burrata Cheese.
You don’t see them blogging about 15 ways to use steak knives or 5 types of ice cream makers. Instead, they blog about how to enjoy making, sharing and of course, eating food with your loved ones, such as this Thanksgiving Guide.
Another Ecommerce brand which focuses on blogging as a platform for content marketing is Urban Beardsman. Their blog posts focus on living the urban beardsman lifestyle, even if it meant mentioning other products such as swim trunks, boots and jeans.
2. Lack of Loyal Customers
RJMetric’s data spells it out for you in simple terms: while many retailers tout the benefits of customer retention and focusing on the value of customer retention mar, most customers never purchase a second time. Only 32% of customers purchase again within a year of their first purchase.
Focus your customer retention marketing to your high-value customers.
Why focus on high-value customers? It’s because they tend to be more loyal. For example, even though these loyal clients are only a small percentage of your overall web traffic, these top 8% high-value clients give almost as much profit as the remaining 92%.
If you’re looking for a way to boost customer retention, loyalty programs are the way to go. You see, the points that you provide to your customers makes them less likely to switch over to your competitor, because there’s a switching barrier. They don’t want to miss out on the rewards that their points could have offered them!
Van-Dal rewards you points for account registration, newsletter subscription, reviews and ordering. What stands out for me is that they give you bonus points based on the order size – the more you order, the more bonus points you get.
This is particularly helpful in increasing the customer lifetime value and in identifying the high-value customers who order more than the average order value of £100.
With this jewelry online shop, you get to be rewarded with points every time you refer a successful client who buys their products.
The best part about this program is their redemption. You can get a free item for every 10 points that you accumulate – simple, sweet, straight-to-the-point and effective for sustaining customer loyalty.
3. Poor Website Traffic
If you want to drive sales and boost your revenue, you need to have visitors with significant commercial intent to visit your website. But if the web traffic that you’re getting isn’t significant enough to nurture leads, how on earth can you possible convert them to sustainable paying customers of your brand?
You can solve this in two ways – the fast way is to use paid advertising, while the slow way is to generate enough social media presence so you can use this for engaging with your customers and sending continuous traffic to your website.
Paid traffic may be the fast option, but for a more powerful and less expensive option, focusing your resources on building a consistent social media presence is better.
Another reason why social media is a better platform? In 2014, it’s been discovered that Ecommerce orders coming from social media grew a shocking rate of 202%.
Use images in your social media posts. Posts which contain photos generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than the average post. And because it’s been found by Buffer that self-explanatory images get higher engagement rates than vague images, consider including descriptive text in your image postings, like Zara.
Do giveaways for discounts, coupon codes or free products. You can’t beat the numbers here: 42% of Facebook fans clicked the “Like” button because they wanted to get coupons and discounts from your company.
To engage with your customers and increase the chances of you getting new fans, make sure the giveaway is all about mutual reciprocation: you and your fans both win the in process. Be sure to encourage link sharing – it’s marketing that you don’t need to spend too much resources on.
4. Little to No Financing
Yes, it’s possible to set up your own Ecommerce store for only a few hundred bucks, but for your Ecommerce store to be adequately prepared in its marketing, product fulfillment and shipping efforts, you need a significant amount of capital to actually get the ball rolling.
In getting the much needed financial requirements for your dream business, you can try tapping into your personal savings, into your credit card balances, from your family and friends or from traditional banks.
Or you can go the digital way and get involved in using crowdfunding to raise resources for your Ecommerce business.
Take it from Hickies, a company dedicated to creating special straps to replace shoelaces. It was able to raise $159K of its $25K goal on Kickstarter by using crowdfunding and interacting with Kickstarter’s audience.
This Ecommerce brand did it by taking advantage of their personal network, reaching out to influential and high authority blogs to feature them. It also helped them that they managed to start a website even before they launched, so they were able to get a considerable amount of traffic from the campaign.
The best part of advice from Hickies’ founders? Follow up personally with each and everyone who took part in the crowdfunding process. And above all, be honest.
New to crowdfunding? This “Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding” may help you master the ropes and eventually get started.
5. Disorganized Inventory Management
Inventory management is the process of ordering, storing and usage of the raw materials needed to produce the products that you’re offering to your market. It also involves monitoring and controlling your stocks of the final product that your clients will be buying.
As you can probably assume by now, Inventory management is a pain for most Ecommerce business models. If you buy too little product inventory, you may fall short on satisfying your customer’s demands and you end up with a disappointed customer base.
On the other hand, if you buy too much inventory, you may not have enough cash circulating in your business flow to keep the processes operational.
If you consider yourself a small Ecommerce company, you may take inspiration from Viscata which operated from the founder’s garage based in San Diego.
Naturally as the business grew, so did the customers, and so the inventory was shifted to third-party storage at the Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). Instead of manually confirming and cancelling the orders, they went on and tried and tested several third-party inventory management solutions.
The inventory management solution Stitch Labs worked for them. Because this solution completely automates the process so you don’t have to do all the manual work like managing inventory, customers, accounting, shipping processes and analytics, it can enable you to focus on personalizing your marketing efforts and scale your Ecommerce business to reach and successfully cater to a growing audience.
Growing an Ecommerce business successfully is like planting a tree – it takes considerable time, money and effort for it to grow so that you can reap the rewards over the long run.
In this article, you were able to learn the most common challenges that you as an Ecommerce store owner will face. But most importantly, you’re also given solutions so you can manage them properly.
Out of all these challenges, which one is the most applicable to your situation right now? Let us know in the comments below so we can both learn from our experiences!