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Why Online Stores Fail

 by ryan on 17 Jan 2013 |
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Why Online Stores Fail and 10 Steps to Keep You from Joining Them

It is all too often that a person will dive into the world of online commerce, with ambitions of becoming a coffee shop millionaire right after they get their store front up. They spend days, weeks, maybe even months putting together a nice store front with plenty of products, only to find out that they were doomed for failure from the beginning, because they forgot to take some important steps before they got started.
The steps these merchants didn't realize they needed to take, are so simple and effective, that we wanted to make sure that you have them now, so that you don't have to worry about following in the footsteps of failed businesses.
Step 1. Perform Regular Market Research
Market research empowers you with knowledge about the products you're going to sell and the people who will buy them. That research will tell you just about everything you need to know before you set up your digital store front. It will show you how much demand there really is for your product, and dispell any myths you might have about any products being infinitely popular because of their usefulness or a strong need for them. 
Market research will also help you understand who your competitors and supporters are, what forms of advertising will be most effective for you and where you can find your ideal customers. These are all essential details that every business needs to have in order to succeed, and yet it is one of the most commonly ignored steps during the birth of an online business.
Step 2. Procure Popular Products
Along with everything above, and then some, market research will also help you quickly take care of another essential task: Making sure you you source products that are popular, but that are not over-sold in the market. Make sure you source products that are not over-saturated, that are high quality and do everything you say they are going to do. Needless to say, don’t try to sell products there’s virtually no demand for just because you think it’s sooo coool.
Step 3. Prepare for Long-Term Marketing Costs
In this step it's especially important that you plan ahead. Yes, you want to give special significance to your initial budget for marketing, though where many business fail is not in doing their initial budgeting preparation, it's actually in not preparing for consistently marketing through the life of their business.
Not preparing for regular marketing, means you'll be doing business in the dark and that is no way to achieve success. Make sure that you take the time to check out all the forms of marketing and advertising available to you and create a plan that covers your long term marketing costs every month.
Step 4. Create Authentic / Unique Content
Many business fail because they neglected to create unique content for their products or for their website in general. It's very easy to cut and paste a description from the manufacturer, onto your own website, especially in the beginning. Though doing this not only looks bad to your customers, it actually works against you in terms of SEO. Search engines look down their noses at webpages with inauthentic content and it will not take long for your digital store front to draw up those red flags, making it more difficult for you to create a better impression of your website on search engines later on.

Step 5. Use Clear and Relevant Images
Every image on your page should be attractive, crisp and relevant to your niche. Make sure that most of your pictures are actual pictures of the products you're selling, as many customers will turn away from doing business with you if they cannot find pictures that will help them see what they will be getting, even if you can offer them a more fantastic deal than anyone else can. Another biggie is to use real human models when selling apparel, NO DUMMIES.
Step 6. Design a Simple and Effective Website
Many online business fail because they either spend too much time working on their websites design, or because they spend too little time doing so. It's important to achieve the right balance, which you can do by learning more about what design elements are important. 
Step 7. Prepare for Customer Service
It is not so simple any more, to jump on the internet and create an online business, especially when it comes to store fronts. There are templates, products and CRM systems that just about anyone can afford and understand how to set up. It's so simple, that many people jump online dreaming of being successful, that they actually do it. The only problem is that they did not expect as much success as they received, and that resulted in an unexpected cycle of rapid growth that crushed their business endeavors because they were not prepared to deal with all of their new and returning customers appropriately.
You too, are likely to experience several rapid cycles of growth, as all successful business do on a regular basis. Knowing this, it's important that you take the time to consider what sort of needs your customers might have as your company grows. And when a customer has a concern, foreseen or not, how will they reach you and how will you overcome those challenges? When your customers needs become more than you can handle alone, will you hire on a small customer service department or outsource your customer service needs to an online agency? Think about all this in detail and create 2-3 potential plans of action you can take as your customer service needs grow, so that you can avoid being pegged as yet another online business with bad customer service structures.
Step 8. Produce Clear Policies
Something that will help you with a majority of your customer service needs, is making sure that you have clear and easily accessible policies available on your website. You want to make sure that every customer who comes to your website, knows what your terms of service are, where they can go if they have a complaint or a question, and what they should do if they would like to return a product or receive a refund on a service they purchased.
Step 9. Price Your Products Competitively
With the internet at their fingertips, it's extremely easy for any customer who comes across your website, to do a quick price check through their favorite search engine and compare what you're offering to others who are offering just about the same thing. From there, they will make their final decision about who they will purchase from and if you want to be the business, make sure your products are neither the cheapest, nor the most expensive. 
Use your market research to decide what that price should be specifically. Often a mid priced product from a more reputable provider will get the sale, not just the cheapest.
Step 10. Get Metrics Educated
Ecommerce Metrics and Insights are the gateway to understanding what happens on your online store everyday. They tell you what kind of people are visiting you, where they've come from, what it cost to aquire them, what they do when they get to your store, and how much revenue they bring on average. Using metrics will help you understand how much genuine traffic you're bringing in, how to convert more of that traffic and how you can adapt your store to the needs of it's visitors.
Most of all, keep in mind that 'traffic' is just one way of labeling your customers, the people who fund your income. They are and always will be the most important part of your business, as without them, your business will fail. Use the above steps to make sure they receive everything they expect from your online store and then some


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