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The five most common e-commerce mistakes small businesses make

Most Australian small businesses have an online presence, whether it’s their own website, social media account/s, Amazon Store or eBay Store, it has become a must-have for our online world.

But it’s not just as simple as creating a website or business account, stocking it with items, choosing a payment gateway and then waiting for the magic to happen.

It can be costly to create an e-commerce platform, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are five of the most common mistakes I see small businesses make.

1. Product selection

  • Don’t choose to sell an item merely because is interests you. It may not necessarily be what the market wants or needs.
  • Make sure you’ve carried out extensive product research and have a strategy to create some tangible points of difference to entice customers to buy your product over the competitor’s. Make sure the market isn’t saturated with similar items or that your product isn’t easy to replicate or copy.

2. Marketing budget

  • Many small businesses spend a lot of money on product research and packaging design and leave no money aside for marketing. Whether you sell on a website or in a marketplace, you need to set aside a monthly budget for either marketing on the platform, SEO, Google Ads or social media. Your product will determine the best platforms to choose but you need to budget for some marketing.
  • Don’t plan on doing everything yourself – there many different moving parts, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed and then end up with a substandard result.

3. Poor assets and listing

  • A poor product listing, description, photography and overall design will not help you grow your business. Your listing is your brochure and the only information a customer has about your product, its contents, and the offer. They cannot touch and feel your product so the better your images and listing, the higher the conversion rate and the lower the return rate.

4. Having a good plan

  • Know your profit margins inside and out. It’s not merely the buy price – factor in freight, customs clearance, storage, marketing, listing and design costs. And if you offer free shipping, you need to know what that will cost as well.
  • What are your lead times to get new products onto the shelves? That will determine how much planning is required before you reorder goods.
  • If your business scales quickly, you will need extra funds to buy inventory and you may not see any money in your pocket as all profits will be reinvested into your inventory. Plan to have much of your capital and profits tied up in inventory in the early days.

5. Treat your supplier as a partner

  • If you’re not making a product yourself, your supplier is crucial to help you scale your business and if your business is successful, they will work with you to help you succeed.
  • If you are sourcing products from Asia, you will need to be patient. Your order may be on the smaller end of the scale, and keep in mind things get done differently in Asia, so be respectful.

About the author: Tushar Kapadia is a strategic and transformational leader connecting businesses to the global e-commerce landscape. A consultant at eStore Factory, he helps customers and businesses grow using marketplaces and platforms such as Amazon and eBay, Facebook and Instagram.

This story was originally published on Inside Small Business.

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