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5 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Ecommerce Business

  • Ecommerce
  • October 6, 2015 | Suzanne Kearns

If you’re about to start an online business, you probably have all kinds of ideas about how your site will shake up the marketplace and provide you with a healthy income. But starting and running an ecommerce store requires a lot of planning and strategy, and if you want your site to be a success, you should avoid some common mistakes.

Here are five mistakes that many new ecommerce business owners make.

1. Not Locating Your Target Market

According to Internet Live Stats, there are almost a billion websites in the world. With that much competition, new website owners need to do all they can to locate and advertise to their target market.

It’s not enough to just put up a site and wait for customers to find you -- instead you should actively market your site. Do that by identifying who your ideal customers are, find out where they hang out online, and then tell them about your site.

In addition, make use of Google Analytics, which you can download for free. It will give you the data you need, such as who visits your site and what they do once they’re there.

2. Not Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform

The ecommerce platform you use could mean the difference between success and failure for your online store, so you should choose carefully. You can use a hosted platform like Etsy, or Shopify, or you could use one of the popular customizable platforms like WooCommerce or Magento.

When deciding which one is right for you, determine which platform best suits your back-end needs, and then think about your customers. Your ecommerce platform should provide you with speed, a look that gives your site credibility, and the ability to design your pages with clear calls to action.

3. Not Optimizing the Site for SEO

When consumers want to buy a product or service, they enter search words or phrases into search engines, and only those websites that are SEO-optimized will show up in the results.

If you want people to find your site, you’ll need to conduct some research to determine which keywords consumers are using to find sites like yours, and then strategically place them throughout the content on your site. You can do the research yourself using tools like Long Tail Pro (free trial available). Or if you don’t have the skills to do the work yourself, a good SEO firm can do it for you.

But keyword optimization is just the beginning of winning the SEO battle. You have to offer something of value above and beyond your product to get some love from Google or Bing. Consider creating guides, checklists, or tools your target audience will find useful and will want to share with others. Doing so may earn you mentions on Twitter or Facebook and links from other websites. Both or which are SEO gold.

4. Not Making Your Site Mobile-Friendly

According to emarketer, those sites that are optimized for mobile received 31 percent of their business from mobile phones in the second quarter of this year, compared to just 22 percent for those sites that hadn’t yet optimized.

As more and more people rely on their smartphones to shop, it’s more important than ever to optimize your site for them. Your site should be compatible with smaller screens for the most common smartphone models and operating systems, or you may miss out on potential sales.

5. Not Automating Sales Tax Collections

Ask any experienced ecommerce seller, and they’ll tell you that one of the most difficult and complex tasks is staying in compliance with the differing sales tax requirements for every state they sell in. After all, some states have jurisdictions in multiple cities, towns, neighborhoods, and even blocks. That’s a lot to keep up with when trying to get an ecommerce store off the ground. Luckily, the answer is simple. Savvy software programs that manage tax calculations and filings on your behalf can save you valuable time you need to focus on growing your business.

Give yourself the best possible chance to build a successful ecommerce store by ensuring that you don’t make any of these five common mistakes. Now get out there and shake up the marketplace with your fabulous new online store!

Avalara Author
Suzanne Kearns
Avalara Author Suzanne Kearns