Shopify is a great way to succeed on the internet, but that doesn’t mean everyone opening stores there find success. Knowing what to do is as important as knowing what not to do, and that’s our topic for this article.
Running an eCommerce business is a great way to make a living today. You don’t have to invest too much, and having a proper store up and running doesn’t take long with Shopify. You also have access to lots of tools and methods to advertise your business without killing your wallet.
Sounds easy, right? So, how can so many advantages result in failed stores? Well, the problem isn’t so much with the business model but with the people using it. If you know the right approach to this industry, then your chances will skyrocket.
I’ll tell you how you can avoid these pitfalls in the end, but I’d recommend you read the entire article to learn the specific reasons why most shopify stores fail. It’ll give you a solid idea of what you should stay away from while you work on the proper mindset.
If you’re in a hurry, just click here to jump to the solution I recommend for everyone because learning from this you will not only save your money but, time as well.
Why do they fail?
The meat of the article, let’s dive into the most common reasons that kill eCommerce businesses. Knowing what’s dangerous will go a long way when building a long-lasting and successful store.
Understanding your market is vital for any business, and knowing which niche you’re working with and the best products is what makes an eCommerce businessman. Take it lightly and you might as well close your store.
It’s easy to feel anxious to release your store and start selling, but that makes you make mistakes like rushing your product choices – usually basing your decision on trends or pure intuition instead of understanding your market, niche and audience. You want to think whether your product can be scaled for the long-term or how’s the competition for it.
If you don’t take this seriously, you’ll end up with overly-saturated products, and surpassing your competition will be much tougher. Competing with dropshippers is manageable, but if you end up offering the same products as global brands, then you’ll find yourself in trouble.
Once there, your options are either sacrificing your profit margins or spending a lot more in your marketing (thus, sacrificing your profit margins).
Even if you hit a good product, you also want to research the suppliers: can they deliver on-time? Are their prices beneficial for you? There’s no point in offering a product if your supplier’s prices don’t let you profit significantly or if they take several weeks to deliver.
There’s little excuse for subpar research, thanks to how many tools exist today that take care of that task for you. You have Google Trends and social media to start for free, and if you can spare a bit more money, you can get premium tools that will find the best-selling products and suppliers for you.
You basically want to find a good niche with good products that you can get from a reputable supplier. If the niches you understand – or like – are already too competitive, then it’s your job to research where you can expand.
This is one of the most common consequences of messing up with the previous point. Finding good products is part of your research, and they’re critical since they make up your entire business.
Sure, you can research properly, find a good niche with a favorable audience and different products with competitors spread thinly among them. However, if the product you choose has no demand (people don’t want it), then how will you sell anything?
What makes products demanded isn’t a constant between niches and items, but you basically want to offer products that can benefit your customers, can’t be found easily, and they’re somewhat limited (or look like it). Of course, you also want it to be an affordable alternative to other, similar products while still having a “premium” feel.
Shopify requires more planning than your average corner store in how you can’t really offer random items and wait for people to go and buy whatever they want from you. Lots of people fall for that, and so do their stores.
It’s also not enough to offer products that are selling wildly just because of that; there’s no point in offering a phone case that people are loving if a few stores already took over that market. You don’t want to be one opportunity among many others; you want to be as close as you can to being the only one.
You also want to aim for higher profit margins. Sure, it’s tempting to offer extremely cheap products to make more sales, but that will be little help if you can’t cover your marketing expenses, subscriptions and your own spending. If you keep larger margins, you’ll have to sell less to profit.
However, that doesn’t mean you should over-inflate your products since no one will want them. Additionally, it doesn’t mean you should go for more expensive items that would make you a thousand or more in sales since they require a lot more work and skill.
You want to find a balance. Selling 100 products for $50 is a lot easier than selling 1,000 products for $5. On the other hand, selling 5 products for $1,000 is quite more difficult than selling 100 for $50.
eCommerce is a lot more affordable than most business models, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to invest anything to be successful.
Yes, you can run a store on minimal costs and still profit, but you still need to invest money even before you start making sales. There’s also the need to spend money scaling your store once you become successful.
Before even making sales, you need to pay for your Shopify subscription, integrations and themes you want to use, marketing, and even training if you want to start off on the right foot. Those are a few hundreds you need to actually start selling. Then, there’s scaling: hiring staff and increasing ad budget on successful campaigns, but your business should pay for these once the time comes.
Shelling out a bit extra at the start can help you save money down the line, especially regarding education and apps. These might be costly at first, but they’ll lead you to a path that will help you profit even more than you would without their advantages.
Poor design or theme
How your customers perceive your store (design, experience, navigation, speed, etc) matters a lot when determining your success. If your visitors can’t find your products, how to pay or even the product descriptions, how can you expect them to buy anything?
Besides the basics, you also want your store’s design to condition your visitors (“warm them up”) towards buying. Without certain pressure, they won’t really think about buying at the moment and eventually forget about it.
Many stores get thousands of visits every week, yet only a minority – or even no one – actually buys something. Users often even place lots of products in their carts and just forget about it.
The most common issue behind that failure is poor store design, usually from using free themes.
Shopify is an amazing platform, but only if you can use it properly. There are several free themes that might be enticing, but they mostly have too many limitations regarding the features they offer. They also lack any special tools and functionality to help you turn visitors into customers.
This is why I mentioned that buying a good, professional theme is an early investment that you should make. You can buy themes designed specifically for conversions, and some even have apps built into their code, like abandoned cart recovery or countdown timers, which will help you save monthly subscriptions.
If you decide to skip this investment and just grab a free theme, then you’ll probably find yourself subscribing to different apps to have access to the features you actually need to generate sales. Even if it works, you’d be spending much more than you really should.
Social media and eCommerce go hand-in-hand since these platforms have opened the doors for entrepreneurs to access a powerful tool to advertise their products. They can target their audience with precision while keeping costs low, which is just short of a revolution.
However, these are only as useful as you can make them. If you don’t set them up properly, you’ll simply see no results; the same goes if you don’t know when or how you should scale a successful ad or kill one that’s under-performing. This is the easiest way to blow money with eCommerce or merely kill your profitability (at best).
Using platforms like Facebook to advertise your business isn’t particularly difficult, and you don’t need a PhD to know how to create ads and target your audience. There are countless options as well regarding how you can run your campaigns.
However, advertising costs can get out of hands if you’re not careful, and if you don’t know how to determine how they’re performing, then you’re about to see how expensive they can get.
That’s why you can’t neglect learning about the topic: which types of ads you can use, how you set them up, how you optimize one, and when/how you should scale/kill certain ads according to their performance.
The good thing is that there’s seemingly unlimited information on the internet – both free and paid – that can teach you how these platforms work and what strategies you have at your disposal. Of course, if you get any good eCommerce course, you should be able to learn all you need to know from it since getting traffic is the most difficult side of dropshipping.
Another important detail is that products are tested by running ads for them and seeing how they perform. How will you know if a product is worth your time, effort and money if you can’t test it?
Not planning their marketing
Now, even people who know how to set up ad campaigns and nice-looking ads often fail with eCommerce. It happens because knowing how to use marketing platforms won’t do much if you don’t really aim anywhere with these ads.
Ads do more than call people’s attention; they should be part of a process that warms up your customers to buying.
Still, many entrepreneurs forget about how important it is to take their time and plan their marketing efforts properly. They usually fall for the idea that their objective is to find as many visitors as they can – not even considering that they need to turn this cold, uninterested traffic into people interested in what they have to offer.
It’s uncommon for someone to be ready to buy something the moment they spot an offer. Most people will take their time to think about whether or not they truly want or need your product, and many will even research a bit to find better offers.
That’s why you want to set up a sales funnel along with an email marketing plan, and this approach is standard among most successful eCommerce stores. Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to miss the importance of using this method – some might not even understand why it’s such a big deal.
The 2 methods work in combination to entice your customers to feel interested in what you have to offer: a product, a collection, or even your entire brand. You just need to offer a sign-up form for your customers in exchange of some free value and send them emails with your offers and discounts to catch their eye.
Setting up this process isn’t hard at all, especially with the platforms available today, and you can even extend it to entice customers to come back and buy from you again.
Issues fulfilling orders
Order shipment and fulfillment can be the most difficult part of your eCommerce, but you don’t need me to tell you how important it is and why. You have a lot of variables when processing your orders: shipping times, tracking availability, informing your customers about their order status, and even working against the high shipping speeds they might be used to with eCommerce brands like Amazon.
What can make this even more stressful is that you often can’t control the entire shipping process. There are usually other factors involve with this procedure, which adds even more potential outcomes.
If you fail to provide consistent shipping times and reliability, then your customers are much less likely to buy from you again or leave a positive review. Even the smallest alteration to the chain can cause your deliveries to delay.
These issues are more common with dropshippers since they have zero control over this side of the business. They offer products directly from a supplier – who takes care of packaging and sending the products. Shipping times can be longer, and customers might get annoyed if they have to wait for too long without even having an estimated arrival time.
If they decide they had enough and cancel the order or ask for a refund, then that means your cash flow will suffer, and you lost some money.
It might seem tricky to overcome, but this problem can be curved by simply providing your customers with transparent estimations. Make sure to place these estimates on the sections that need it the most and have them as visible as you can so your customers set their expectations properly.
Sure, some customers won’t purchase because of the longer shipping times. However, if your products are actually good, then that shouldn’t occur too often. In fact, it could even build up their hype and work in your favor.
Make sure not to cut corners with delivery times if you want to succeed with eCommerce.
Bad customer service
There’s a popular saying I’ve always heard since I started showing interest in entrepreneurship: people buy once for your product, but they buy twice for the service. It’s something like that; I’m not good with these things.
That’s one of the most important things to keep in mind if you want to start any type of business; huge companies and brands dedicate entire departments to this task for a reason.
Keeping a healthy relationship with your clients is paramount. It has to do with all sides of your business: from clearing things up to your potential customers to your initial order, all the way to helping you fend off refunds and gain recurrent customers.
Most people who buy from your store are more likely to come back to you, but you can’t just sit and wait for it to happen. Sadly, this tends to be one of the least attractive tasks for most entrepreneurs, and that’s why so many people neglect it and crash. You want to offer help to your customers as soon as they need it to feel reassured about their purchase,
It goes beyond customers as well. You can help people who feel hesitant to make up their minds by offering the information they need, politely and showing interest in them. You also want to be as efficient as possible, offering multiple support channels to improve your shopping experience.
Don’t forget you’re dealing with people, either, and that they want to speak with other people. You want to be as professional and empathetic as possible; always show yourself calm and polite to rid them of any worry they might have and solve their problems efficiently.
A great way to make customer service a breeze is to hire virtual assistants for this task. You can find freelancers in platforms like Upwork. These marketplaces will let you review each users, so you can make sure you’re hiring professionals as well.
How to succeed with a Shopify store
You might have noticed several items are related to others in the same list, and in fact, they all have one thing in common: lack of preparation.
If you were expecting a huge rundown of how to solve everything, then I’m afraid to disappoint: it’s a lot easier than you think.
All you need to do is learn and understand your business. The best way is to get a proper course like eCom Elites, by Franklin Hatchett. It’s a complete guide detailing every single aspect of running an eCommerce store – and the best way to stay well away from all these pitfalls.