Online shopping has only had a significant place in mainstream society for a matter of years, but there is no denying the growing impact of the e-commerce store.
“Cyber Monday” has become part of our cultural terminology. And when most of us need to buy something online, Amazon is the company that likely comes to mind.
E-commerce is only projected to become more widespread in the coming years. Out of all retail sales in 2017, online sales were estimated to comprise 12.7% of them. That number is expected to increase to 22% by 2022. Online sales in 2017 are also projected to grow much faster than offline sales, at least in the U.S.
But even though online shopping is growing, e-commerce entrepreneurs often find it incredibly challenging to maintain a successful business. Here are some of the reasons why and what you can do if your e-commerce store is failing.
Online vs. Offline Retail
It turns out that selling online is even more difficult than selling offline.
According to The Motley Fool, “Physical retail is notorious for narrow margins, usually in the low-single digits, but it seems that e-commerce profits are even slimmer, and many online retailers are operating at a loss.”
This might seem counterintuitive because starting your own e-commerce business is less financially demanding as far as the initial investment goes.
You don’t have to pay rent, for example. If you don’t want to build your own website, you can always try selling through an established marketplace, such as Etsy.
But the fact that it is so easy for people to get into e-commerce is exactly what makes online retail so difficult. The more brands that are involved, the harder it will be for each of them to set themselves apart from each other.
One significant advantage that physical stores have is they can set themselves apart from competitors by means of their location and the atmosphere they create. Online, the ability to experience a unique space disappears. E-commerce stores therefore must rely primarily on price to set themselves apart.
Relying on price is pretty difficult, given that Amazon undercuts its competitors and that the need for shipping drives up the cost for either the buyer or the seller.
You’ve Got Problems
These reasons are only the tip of the iceberg as far as why your e-commerce store could be failing. And if your online store is failing, what can you do about it?
The answer to that question depends on where your business is in its decline. If you see clearly that you gave it your best effort and that it’s time for you to move on, something you should consider is selling your company for a profit.
Doing so prevents you from eating the loss of all the hard work and money you have invested in your company. You can go to an exchange marketplace and put your business on the market for someone else to buy.
For example, the Shopify Exchange is one solution for people looking to sell their failing Shopify stores. If your goal is simply to change companies and/or industries, you could consider purchasing a new company in that same marketplace.
Why People Are Leaving Your E-commerce Store
On the other hand, if you want to evaluate what you can do to salvage your store, there are a number of areas to consider.
Because people can’t be physically present to examine the product they’re interested in, it’s essential that your representation of the product online is as clear and accurate as possible. If your images are absent or poor, this is a serious mistake.
It’s important that you give as much information as needed with words as well as with visuals. If people can’t find the information they need in order to purchase, they’re not going to purchase.
Ease of use is also important. People want to get around your site without difficulty, and they want it to make sense. They want to be able to easily search for and find what they want.
And this shouldn’t need to be said, but it is becoming more and more common for people to shop on mobile over laptops. If your site is not mobile responsive, that is a problem.
Besides browsing on your site, there are other parts of the experience that might be affecting whether or not people want to shop at your store.
They might be annoyed with how long shipping takes. That’s something else you can thank Amazon for—Amazon Prime has influenced people to expect their shipments to arrive within a couple of days.
And of course, there is customer service. People want to resolve their problems quickly. Often, they would like to communicate with an actual human.
Other Steps to Take
Here are a few other measures you can take to try to prevent users from leaving your site without buying.
- Compare your prices to those of your competitors, considering if yours are much higher.
- Reassess which users you are targeting.
- Analyze how you are a positioning your products.
- Administer exit surveys.
- Use site metrics to evaluate user journeys.
- Reframe the perception of out of stock orders by calling them “pre-orders.”
- Live chat your customers on social media, particularly Facebook.
- Consider how and when you are recommending certain items to people.
- Cross-sell and upsell products related to what your customers are interested in.
- Feature products that are on sale or that are the most popular.
- Do what you can to collect positive reviews from people.
- Try to get existing customers to join a loyalty or rewards program.
You Can Do Something
E-commerce is trending, but it is also challenging. If your e-commerce store is struggling, you can take action to get yourself out of that situation.
This could mean you evaluate why people are leaving you and change what you are doing. Or it could mean that you change businesses entirely. Whatever the case might be, you have options.
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