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Reasons why some online stores succeed while others fail

Starting Your Business

Learn how to open an online store.

Success and failure: it's all about details.

Ecommerce is a big, hypercompetitive market.
In the intense competition, why do some online businesses succeed while others fail?
The key difference between success and failure often comes down to a small detail.

01What makes a successful online store

Follow the tips of running an online store successfully.

1. Provide accurate and reliable information

Customers would find your online store untrustworthy if it fails to provide reliable information.
The first step to starting an online store is to learn how to convey accurate information.

Contact info for customer service

Customer service contact info is one of the essential pieces of information you must provide when you set up an online store.
Providing the contact info makes your store look trustworthy, especially when customers need to know where they can make inquiries on products, orders, and shipping.
Provide correct contact info to which you can respond promptly.
Sometimes, you may find it demanding to handle customer inquires because of the time and labor it takes, but these inquiries will give you insights about your customers' thoughts and help you improve your store.

Terms of Use

Provide clear privacy and store policies to convince your customers that all collected personal data and transactions are safely secured at your store.
Customers often skip reading fine print, but providing clear terms and conditions can help to build trust in your customers subconsciously.

2. Create a customer-friendly website

While creating a visually appealing website is important, making it user-friendly is also a key part of providing a convenient shopping experience.

Tips on creating a user-friendly layout
  1. Display core products on the home page to draw customer attention.
  2. Place the search bar where it can be most visible so that customers can search items they want fast.
  3. Simplify the signup process to enable fast and easy signup for your customers.
  4. Take great care in placing buttons and text on the order and checkout page so that customers don't get lost.
3. Provide various payment options

Customers may give up purchasing products during checkout if payment options they want to use are unavailable.
Providing various payment options on your e-commerce website is a crucial part of creating a convenient shopping experience.
Put yourself in customers' shoes and offer them payment options that best suit their needs to increase your sales.
Set up various payment options, mainly popular ones, on your store.

Go to guide on Payments
4. Use SEO settings

SEO settings help your online store and products show up in search results when customers search for particular keywords.
Try to figure out what keywords customers would use, then include the keywords in your SEO settings to promote your business in a powerful way for free.

Go to SEO settings
5. Create compelling product photos and descriptions

Product photos are as important as the quality of products you sell, but they cannot fully showcase the product features on their own.
They should go along with engaging and convincing product descriptions to capture customer attention.

Taking product photos

It may be difficult to shoot your products with no professional photographers and equipment.
In that case, remove the background to emphasize your products and achieve consistency.
There are various photo-editing applications you can use for free.
Use them to retouch your photos or remove the background to fix any flaws.
If there is no option available, use a white cloth or a white wall as the background to shoot your products.

Writing product descriptions

One disadvantage of running a store online is that customers can't touch or see products in person.
Online shoppers rely on product images, descriptions, and reviews from other shoppers when making a purchase decision.
Therefore, how you write product descriptions has a great impact on sales.
Learn the tips on writing compelling product descriptions below.

1) Picture your target customers

Target customers are determined by the products and services you offer.
Identify your ideal customers and imagine what conversation you would have with them in real life when you write product descriptions.
Read through your first draft and single out factual pieces of information, then simplify them for your final description.

2) Emphasize benefits from your products objectively

There are no sellers who include flaws in their products in product descriptions.
But too much hype, which many businesses resort to, is not helpful for you to build trust with your customers.
Think about what inconvenience your product can resolve if your customers buy them.
Emphasize the benefits of using your products/services based on factual information.
The best way to do this is to upload official proof, such as patent certificates, on your product pages.

3) Write stories that ignite customers' imagination

Science found humans have a strong desire to possess things in their hands.
But online shoppers cannot touch what they buy until their delivery arrives.
Explain what your customers can do with the products they purchase through your description.
A description with details can ignite your customers' imagination and satisfy them through indirect experiences, which can ultimately lead to sales.

6. Secure a stable supply chain

How skillful you are at operating your store and how high-quality your services/products are do not matter unless you have products to sell.
For this reason, it is pivotal to find partners who can ensure a stable supply chain.

It's best if you create and sell products by yourself because self-manufactured products can help to differentiate your store from others, but it's not easy to do it all on your own.
Therefore, do thorough market research and keep up with the latest trends to choose your suppliers and build a good relationship with them.

Think about what to do in case of unpredictable circumstances from suppliers, so that you deliver products to customers as planned.

7. Be a hard worker

Being a hard worker is an important trait not just for e-retailers but for all entrepreneurs.
As a commerce business owner, you should keep in mind that customers access your website 24/7.
Keep up with fast-changing trends and update new products on a regular basis to meet your customers' needs.

Remember hard work is key to creating a successful online store.

02Mistakes that make your store fail
1. No clear goals and plans

As already mentioned in other pages, meticulous business plans should be written ahead of starting your online store.
In such fierce competition, following your gut without planning is as reckless as heading out to the battlefield unarmed.
Do not open your store without pondering first over your products and marketing strategies.

2. Unbalanced approach to promotional and marketing campaigns

There are two typical reasons why online stores fail.
One is too much emphasis on marketing and promotional activities, and the other is too little.

Some business owners underestimate the power of marketing and promotional strategies.
No one will be interested in your products unless something is done to raise the awareness of your brand and sell the value of your products.
You need to actively promote and market your business to draw customers' attention and open their wallets.
In contrast, too much investment in marketing and PR at the early stage may just make the unrefined and clumsy aspects of your business look more obvious to your customers.

The most ideal way to promote your new online store is using free promotion channels, such as online marketplaces, blogs, or social media, and reinvesting your revenue in running paid promotional campaigns.

   

If you know the importance of promotion and marketing, but don't know where to start, go to [Marketing > Promoting your store]
If you have not realized why they are important, you need to learn basic business principles from scratch.

3. Lifeless website

Nobody wants to spend their money on products from stores that they can't trust.
A lackluster website is one of many reasons why you lose customers' trust because it gives you the impression that it is not well-maintained.
The following are factors that cause your customers to lose trust in your online store.

  • ・ Inconsistent updates of new products
  • ・ Late replies to customer inquiries
  • ・ Stale website designs and layouts
  • ・ Outdated posts on the notice board

Those factors may seem easy to avoid, but many online businesses are losing customers' trust because of them.
Your customers can't see your hard work unless you fulfill what they want and maintain your ecommerce website properly.
Update your website on a regular basis so that your store looks active and open to all customers' inquiries.

4. Failure to stand out

With hundreds of e-commerce websites coming and going every day, it may seem impossible to create an online store that stands out from others.
When you look into successful online stores, however, you can see that these stores always have one strength at least.
This means that even one strength alone can differentiate your store from others.

If you sell the same products as others, providing information on your products professionally, replying to inquiries fast and sincerely, and offering quick shipping services is key to success.
Try your best to find out where you can be best at and develop it.
Keep in mind that the smallest things can make a big difference and set a goal to develop what you are good at to the fullest.

5. Wrong target customers and failures in stock management

When starting out, all businesses go through the same processes, from finding target customers, sourcing products based on their needs to running marketing/PR campaigns.
But what they should do beforehand is to write down a business plan to avoid potential problems.
There is no such thing as a product that every single person wants.
When startups ignore this fact and fail to find the target audience, they end up failing to attract customers, left with stockpiles of unsold products.
Identify your target customers based on criteria such as age, gender, and preferences, then source products accordingly.




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