With so many new online shops being set up with each year, there are a few common myths amongst new shop owners which may slow or even prevent their business from taking off. With this in mind, here are our top 5 myths of building an online business.
– “Build it and they will come”
Whilst this may to some degree be true of physical retail, sadly this isn’t the case online. With many types of products being so saturated nowadays, there’s virtually no way for potential customers to know you exist unless you tell them.
This leads us onto mentioning Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short. Although a strategy to help your store climb the ranks of Google + Bing is highly recommended, it’s an ongoing effort and more effective only in the long term. SEO alone is unlikely to create sales for your online shop in the short term.
When starting up then, it’s important to know that some investment of money or time will be required to place your product/site in front of potential buyers eyes. This could be via Pay-Per-Click advertising (Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Boosts), or linking in with shopping comparison sites (Google Shopping, Pricegrabber, Shopzilla etc).
You can also get more creative with your advertising – YouTube videos, blog posts or sponsorships can all prove an effective promotion of your business. It’s always worth trying fresh and unique ideas to try and win new customers; try new things and find out what works for your niche.
– “My website looks great, so it’ll do really well”
Having a great looking website is obviously incredibly important these days. We’re visual creatures, and the design of your site could mean the difference between a swithering customer spending or not. It’s also evidence to your shoppers that your website is up to date, has had the proper time and attention paid to it, and can be trusted to deliver.
All said though, looks aren’t everything, and a great online shop needs more to it than just its looks, the style needs substance to back it up. Your offering needs to be competitive, as looks alone aren’t enough to sell your product.
For instance, is your product well priced in a saturated market? Are your delivery terms competitive in your industry? Does your online shop demonstrate the same level of trust and transparency that competitors do? Unsurprisingly these are quite difficult to achieve when starting out, for example your product may be priced higher, and you may not have as many reviews to back up your levels of service, as your competitors.
So then, it’s really crucial to hit on these points early, and call these out early on your site, for the greatest chance at success. Be aware too that the importance of design to your webshop also comes down to the relative standard within your area of business.
– “I need to spend hundreds of £ on a web designer”
Although most web designers will try and convince you otherwise, the idea of strictly needing to hire a traditional web designer to build an online shop, is an outdated one. Unless your site needs bespoke functionality, a custom or unique design, or if you want to outsource the majority of your online store build. In these cases a more traditional approach makes more sense, and certainly has its place.
Otherwise, for a new ecommerce venture, you might consider self-hosted open source software such as OpenCart. Assistance with the more technical side is available if required and is often well backed up by the community via online forums, support sites etc. This route can be cost effective, but also might be more time consuming upon any problems or issues arising.
Alternatively, a cloud hosted ecommerce platform like EKM is a reliable choice for building an online shop upon. Commercial support is available, and with an impressive feature set, including over 150 templates. You’re also more likely to achieve a better looking website than going it alone. It may prove slightly more expensive month to month, but bearing in mind your saving of time and initial setup cost, this is the most suitable option for most.
– “I’ll get loads of sales from my Facebook/Twitter followers”
Having an excellent and dedicated fanbase on social media is no bad thing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc are a fantastic method of keeping clients up to date, increasing customer loyalty online and establishing a strong brand identity.
On the contrary though, more followers does not necessarily mean more sales. Fans on social media platforms are rarely looking to actually buy immediately. This also goes to show that paying for bulk Facebook or Twitter followers is generally a poor idea – it’s usually fairly obvious, and unlikely to generate any sales or return on investment.
Having a great social media following then will be more beneficial in the long term, becoming invaluable to your business later on. A consistent social media presence will keep your brand in their minds when the time to buy does finally come around.
(Note this section doesn’t apply to paid social media advertising, which can work well in many cases).
– “My website’s live now, so job done”
This might not be a surprise at this stage, but actually building your online shop may be the easiest part of the process! Getting set up is just the beginning.
Gone are the days when any old business idea could be profitable selling online – just about every market is saturated. The more saturated the market, the more time and money will need spent to make your shop stand out from the hundreds of others. You must have the right product(s), a clear Unique Selling Point, and a competitive price point.
Setting up an online shop, like any startup business, also requires a great deal of persistence, learning, and continual investment of time. Things rarely happen on their own. With enough effort, commitment and sensible decision making though, you can be sure of the reward. Customers will come back to you time and time again, when you give them good reason to.
We hope this post gives you an idea of some of the common misconceptions out there, and might help make your online business more successful. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!