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Mistakes New eCommerce Brands Are Making in 2020

History will look back on 2020 as a landmark year for business. It’s the year in which businesses of all shapes and sizes learned one of the oldest lessons in business in the harshest possible way… adapt or die!

Even now, as we head towards the last quarter of 2020, businesses are finding that they have to make sweeping operational changes on the fly, adapting to the changing needs of their consumers while also struggling to stay relevant and keep their customers engaged. Tragically, there are already many businesses that learned their lessons too late, and have closed their doors for the last time. 

Image by Quince Creative via Pixabay

Yet, while we’ve seen this widespread and tragic phenomenon, we’ve also seen a surge in new business pioneers. The people who’ve looked adversity in the eye and said “yes, I can!”. The people who have started their own businesses after being unceremoniously let go from their employers, and decided to strike out for themselves. Or the people who simply identified a gap in the post-COVID market, and took the opportunity to fill it, either as a full-time occupation or a side hustle

Whatever your circumstances, when setting up a new business, eCommerce is an understandably appealing prospect. After all, it allows you to start trading more or less instantaneously without the potentially crippling overheads that come with running a business with a physical premises. Heck, you don’t even need to worry about warehousing or storage for your products when you use the dropshipping model. And in an age where people are still playing it safe and self-isolating, it makes total sense to start up your own eCommerce business in 2020. But does that mean that starting an eCommerce business today means easy money every day thereafter? Of course not! You’ll need to steer clear of some of the common mistakes made by eager new online brands. Including...

Assuming that your product speaks for itself

You’ve found or even developed a product that you’re proud of. A product that speaks to the needs of customers in 2020. A product that nobody should be able to do without. So, why aren’t your products flying off the shelves? Why don’t people believe in your product like you do?

The truth is that even eCommerce businesses need to take the time to build their own brand, rather than letting their products speak for themselves. And this can bring its own set of caveats. With so many other businesses like yours trying to engage customers, you need to think about how your brand can represent a greater value proposition to your customers than your competitors’ brands. That doesn’t just mean offering a better product. It means delivering outstanding service, and assuring customers that you’ll do all you can to help them feel safe and supportive in these difficult times. 

Leaning too heavily on the pandemic as a selling point

The current pandemic may well be an opportunity for your brand. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen one-too-many COVID-centric marketing campaigns that amount to little more than; 

“Now, more than ever… buy our product!” 

Your brand will need to do better than that. You’ll need to position yourself as the solution to specific problems and challenges that your prospective customers encounter (more on that later).

Trying to be too clever

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a USP. In fact, whether you make your money online or in *shudder* meatspace, you should be doing something to stand out from competitors and offer something to consumers that they can’t. 

Still, in your zeal not to allow any aspect of your business to be derivative, you can go too far the other way. You can fall into the trap of trying to come up with innovative new solutions for everything. And that can actually hamper your business’ operations. Unless your customisation really delivers value to your customers, it could simply be dead weight. And this can see you…

Image by Jessica45 via Pixabay

Making promises you can’t keep

In your determination to make a great first impression to customers, and in your confidence as a scrappy new startup you may be tempted to make all kinds of promises to new customers in the hopes of securing their long-term business. Just make sure that they’re promises you can keep. Many a well-meaning business has lost customers because it has over-promised and under delivered. 

As well as using a Shopify Plus agency to maximise uptime and scale your business as demand increases, you should also master the fine art of expectation management. Sometimes your lofty promises can become a rod for your back.

Failing to keep a close eye on margin

When you’re starting out in eCommerce, you’ll find that you have so much data to keep track of, it may seem like simply keeping up with it is your full-time job. You know that your stats are trying to tell you something, but you’re dealing with so much raw data that you’re struck by analysis paralysis. 

And while there are a few performance metrics that eCommerce brands do well to keep a close eye on, don’t take your eyes off the one metric to rule them all… margin. Your margin is the essence of your business’ profitability, and when you neglect it, the distance between your top and your bottom line may grow worryingly narrow. And before you know it, you’re finding it harder to pay your vendors, having to borrow high-interest short term loans and potentially incurring avoidable costs such as interest, late fees and other charges. 

Letting paid ads do all your heavy lifting

Finally, and speaking of avoidable costs, you’re likely savvy enough to know that marketing spend is a worthy spend with a potentially decent ROI. But that doesn’t mean that every penny you spend on marketing is well spent. In fact, you may find that if you let your paid ads do all the heavy lifting, your marketing spend becomes a money pit. Make sure you follow up the surge in attention from paid ads with high-value lead magnets and other forms of content marketing. These all help to establish trust in your brand and generate more value for prospective customers. 

After all, that’s what it’s all about!

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