Starting your own company is a mammoth task. With so much going on around you, it’s easy to make a couple of mistakes from time to time, but they can have potentially disastrous consequences. Here are the top seven most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting their own ecommerce store - don’t let them happen to you.

Not doing enough keyword research

Online selling is keyword and search-engine led. Not researching your niche and its keywords is definitely dangerous. It can have big knock-on effects when you start mapping out your ecommerce sitemap and product categories; it can even impact forecasting.

To properly map out your ecommerce store, you will need to drill down and get granular with your keyword research, as well as zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Here are some of the main reasons why keyword research is so valuable:

  • It helps you correctly identify and evaluate a market – it might even show you why your business idea isn’t going to work (benchmark search volume and keyword difficulty in Google’s Keyword Planner)
  • You get to listen to your users and the language they use – helping you plan out a proper content strategy that will meet their needs (and help you rank in search engines)
  • Using Google Trends, you can identify industry trends and evaluate whether there is a growing (or declining) market for your products
  • Use data and insights to help you plan a more successful business – don’t argue with it just because it isn’t showing you what you want

Not listening to your users

Building on the points made on keyword research, not listening to user language and not learning from their online habits is dangerous. Your customers’ experience of your store will impact profits and business health – listen to them.

  • Analytics platforms are your new best friends. People are telling you in impressions, clicks, and sales what they like and don’t like – take note
  • Create product categories based on keyword research and user-led research, not your personal ideas of how things might look ‘nice’ 
  • Ecommerce is about usability – be ruthless in your pursuit of UX excellence to remain competitive 
  • Test your site with users to see how they use the navigation and whether they find product discovery and purchase easy (or painful)

Neglecting your branding

An ecommerce store shouldn’t look like a jumble sale with loads of random products and big red flashing buttons. You want to offer a streamlined and beautiful shopping experience with a digital brand that looks the part.

  • Your logo is your chance to make a first impression – take it seriously (here’s how logo design can enhance user experience)
  • Choose designs that support and enhance your product sales, don’t detract from them with outdated and poor visuals
  • Take loads of lovely product images in good lighting to showcase them to their full advantage

Having no customer service plan

Eek. This is a big one. Ecommerce customers are browsing 24/7, so you need to plan for that. Not having a customer service plan is asking for trouble.

  • Plan out what customer service channels you are going to need – social, phones, enquiry forms etc. 
  • Have some stock answers and templates ready to help you deal with standard queries about deliveries and voucher codes 
  • Make contacting you easy – people will lose confidence in your store if they can’t

Not caring about SEO

SEO is crucial for ecommerce. Now, you may not know your robots.txt from your image alt tags – but search engines do and your store will be counting on getting a lot of traffic from there.

  • Other than keywords, you are going to have to audit your site’s technical capabilities to make sure there aren’t any SEO skeletons lurking in your site’s code 
  • Get a specialist audit done with SEO recommendations and then pick off the list the most crucial tasks, spreading the cost over the year 
  • Get second opinions if you’re feeling unsure

Paying too much for a custom ecommerce platform

When you can start an online store for a small monthly fee, why go pay for loads of expensive development work? Yes, developers need to eat, but only pay for development work if your business is really going to benefit from a custom backend.

The biggest ecommerce error you can make is spend all your money on development, leaving no money for proper store promotion or SEO.

  • Go for tried-and-tested, not newfangled. Vet any developers or platforms thoroughly before signing on the dotted line 
  • Utilise free online trials and out-of-the-box online store builders to help you make a decision on what you need

Ignoring social

Social selling is not just a buzzword, social is where your customers are. And trust us, they will send you that angry tweet on the weekend because they can’t find their tracking ID.

  • Plan out a customer service arm of social – you might not be able to afford a separate comms channel (yet), but make sure whoever is dealing with your social media has some responses ready to customer queries
  • Don’t forget to also create some great content. Balance content about your products and brand with plenty of fun asides, shares and content that has value for your audience 
  • Which channels are best for you? You don’t need to be on ALL of the channels at once. This can actually be detrimental as it devalues your offering if you can’t keep up with them all 
  • Visual content is again key – don’t ignore the power of a great photo.

Hopefully these seven mistakes have helped you see how much goes into a good ecommerce strategy. Which ecommerce mistake do you think is the most serious and why?


By Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur, coach & writer

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