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These 4 planning-stage blunders can kill your ecommerce bottom line

Ecommerce, to put it simply, is the present and the future. According to eMarketer, online sales are expected to exceed $4 trillion by 2020!

But, retail will also always be a story of David and Goliath. In the past, stores battled bricks-and-mortar giants named Walmart and Kmart. Now, their names are Amazon and eBay. The harsh reality for smaller ecommerce outlets is that even the slightest hiccup can turn customers away and, in turn, hurt their revenue.

To ensure your own customer base is continually growing and improving your bottom line, here are four common blunders you can and should avoid in the early stages of your ecommerce business.

1. Creating content for the wrong audience

Content marketing and ecommerce go hand-in-hand. The primary goal is to put the right messaging in front of the most susceptible eyes. If used correctly, your branded content can be your most valuable asset. On the flip side, it can be one of the biggest disconnects with your target audience.

For this reason, it’s vital that you spend the time to properly plan out each message you send and realize the effect it will have. This involves playing to the prevalent concerns and issues within your industry. Luckily, there are all kinds of tools out there to help you with this.

For instance, Digimind is a web-monitoring software that allows you to track certain keywords across social media networks and major news outlets. By engaging in in-depth research, you can glean all sorts of insights for content inspiration.

Even more important than finding the hot button topics is your need to create content that adheres to different levels of interest. For example, someone casually browsing to find solutions to his problems is not typically looking for aggressive sales-oriented content; he (or she) is looking to be educated. Therefore, you need to examine the entire buyer’s journey of your ecommerce business and know how to gear content accordingly.

2. Misjudging demand

Inventory issues can bring your ship down faster than anything else. Because ecommerce is a relatively new method for conducting retail operations, businesses everywhere face a number of growing pains and miscalculations. The smallest error can spell disaster for your logistics and eat into your profits.

The good news is that ecommerce and big data are evolving parallel to each other. Predictive analytics is no longer a futuristic fantasy. It is now a valuable tool to help businesses get a good sense of their customer demand and save money when it comes to inventory management.

Solutions like Forecastly use big data analysis and demand-forecasting to help Amazon sellers eliminate arbitrary guesswork to help prevent stocking issues across the board. Small businesses and traders also usually face huge limitations when it comes to estimating stock, taking advantage of market inefficiencies and mastering their supply chain.

Forecastly can help: Its algorithm uses hard data to determine the ideal amount of stock and makes sure there are no surprises in the replenishment process. Thus, anyone can compete with the biggies while riding on Amazon’s back!

To survive in the turbulent world of ecommerce, be sure that each and every important decision you make is backed up and validated with proper data.

3. Not investing in web security

Cyberattacks are becoming more commonplace. That’s the unfortunate state of the world we currently live in. When you run an ecommerce website, customers expect their information to be kept safe. Because important financial data is being shared, you cannot take any risks whatsoever. If your platform isn’t secured, all your efforts at marketing and sales tactics will not bring substantial results.

If you are new to ecommerce, or have not taken serious precautions to ensure your platform is safe for everyone, don’t waste any more time in getting to know the basics of website security.

Start by learning about PCI Security Standards. These were put in place to instill safety guidelines for how merchants process, store and transmit payment information. Because the landscape is constantly changing, be sure to keep up to date with any changes or new requirements.

Next, get your SSL certificate. This ensures that all information sent to your site, such as usernames, passwords, credit card information and more, is encrypted and secured. Not only is this mandatory in terms of PCI Standards, but it gives your customers a sense of assurance that their information is protected.

Failing to prioritize web security is one of the biggest blunders you can make when you’re running an ecommerce store. The risks can be fatal to your operation.

4. Underestimating the value of customer service

One of the most common myths associated with ecommerce is that customer service is irrelevant. In the early days, this was true to an extent. However, in 2017, it is a key factor that sets online businesses apart.

For an ecommerce business, there are many ways in which you can excel at customer service. As all business owners know, shoppers are incredibly impatient. Nowadays, instead of waiting and getting angry, they will simply move on to the next company that can better meet their needs. For this reason, customer interactions need to be quick, easy and meaningful. No one likes calling a hotline, only to wait to be connected to a support agent while having to listen to elevator music.

Implementing a live-chat feature on your platform will be a win for everyone. Customers can get connected with a service rep within seconds. Your staff can assist multiple people at once.

The choice for customers is simple. They can either get in their car, navigate traffic and fight their way through crowds to find what they need. Or, they can simply log on to their computer or mobile device and purchase what they need in matter of clicks. The latter trend does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Incorporating online buying options into your business model is a huge and necessary step. Do your best to avoid these blunders during the infancy of your business as they will come back to haunt you further down the road.

source: Entrepreneur