The North American e-commerce market is a $226 billion industry, according to Internet Retailer. That number is impressive enough on its own, but it’s also projected to increase 62 percent over the next three years.
If you’ve found that your own e-commerce efforts are not particularly successful and you can’t figure out what’s wrong, chances are good you’re violating one of the cardinal rules of the e-commerce world.
Fix these, and you’ll carve out your place in this competitive and profitable market.
Don’t: Try to Be the Next Amazon
You might think that having a massive product range to appeal to the most people at one time is the way to go, but it’s one of the worst things you can do in e-commerce. You’re not going to be the next Amazon.com without more time, money and effort than a reasonable person has to give. Instead, focus on specialized niche markets for targeted traffic. Your conversion numbers will be higher, your overhead will be lower, and you can dip your feet into the e-commerce world without drowning. You have several methods to choose from for determining an e-commerce niche.
Ecommerce Rules recommends focusing on lower-ticket items. The high-end computer market might seem appealing, but it’s both competitive and has low profit margins. Items that need to be purchased frequently and products that work well with up-selling are both good selections. When you’re working in a niche you personally know well, it’s also easy to generate value-added content.
Don’t: Make Navigation Difficult
Would you make a brick and mortar store where a customer has to perform parkour just to get to your products? Then why would you do the same thing in a virtual store? When designing your e-commerce store, determine the best way to get around your site. You want to err on the side of simple, making sure the navigation flow makes sense. Create the structure and design the site to help your customers find the most appropriate products as quickly as possible.
Don’t: Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Developing traffic for an e-commerce site takes time, effort and, occasionally, money. While it’s a frustrating experience at times, you don’t want to depend on only a handful of traffic sources. If you rely on search engine traffic from Google, you may find that you lose your business overnight when they decide to make an algorithm change and you lose your hard-earned ranking. Diversifying over multiple marketing channels is the best way to keep a steady flow of traffic to your website, and losing one source doesn’t mean a complete disaster for your website, Practical Ecommerce says.
Don’t: Be Stagnant
The Internet is a big, shiny place, and if you don’t have interesting products to keep your customers’ attention, they’re going to wander off quickly. E-commerce is not a passive, set-it-and-forget-it source of income. Instead, you want to keep on top of the latest products, swap products frequently and add new offerings to the mix on a regular basis.