This is a great time to run an ecommerce business. Brick-and-mortar retail is in the COVID-19 doldrums following years of diminishing profits, people working from home (and prevented or discouraged from going overseas) are eager to spend money online, and there’s never been more free information out there online about all the steps you need to take.
For all those reasons, though, it’s also a terrible time to run an ecommerce business. When you launch a store today, you’re not venturing forth into an unexplored area. Instead, you’re taking your rickety canoe into shark-infested waters. If you stay quiet, you’ll struggle to catch any fish — and if you make too much noise, you’ll catch the attention of the dominant predators.
In short, then, ecommerce is an excellent pursuit if (and only if) you can overcome the substantial challenges inherent to the industry today. And on that note, we’re going to cover five of the most notable challenges facing ecommerce brands in 2021, setting out general solutions that can help you if you’re having trouble growing a store. Let’s begin.
Handling complex analytics
The world of big data is all-encompassing: after all, there isn’t a part of modern business that can’t benefit from a deeper understanding of the metrics. The problem for the companies themselves is that handling complex analytics is extremely difficult. Simply gathering the data isn’t so tricky, as there are plenty of plug-and-play additions that will readily collect huge amounts of information concerning orders placed, carts abandoned, and many other things.
The solution to this challenge is to follow relevant sources and outsource tasks when necessary. No one has an innate comprehension of the most granular elements of Google Analytics (let alone how to allocate revenue attribution), so everyone has to start somewhere. A digital marketing site like this one will go into significant detail about how things work — and if you find that you’re entirely out of your depth, you can get in touch with a suitable marketing agency to arrange a deal whereby your analytics are handled, parsed and presented to you.
Nailing technical SEO
Being found online is difficult, even if your store happens to be selling excellent products. The Google algorithm is far from perfect, relying on various factors to vaguely gauge how likely a page is to serve a particular purpose, and you need to be aware of that process. You don’t need to push towards an extreme level of optimization, though: just ensure that you’re ticking the fundamental boxes to prevent basic technical issues from interfering.
So what’s the solution? Well, when you’re trying to make your store technically sound, building it on a strong ecommerce platform is the most important step (particularly if you’re just a beginner to the industry because some platforms are easier than others). After that, you should look into suitable SEO add-ons: most are capable of automatically generating decent metadata and checking for issues that might prevent your site from being indexed (you may have heard of the Yoast plugin for WordPress, there are equivalents for other platforms).
Getting their pricing right
In the intro, I brought up the metaphor of entering shark-infested waters, and it’s handy here. Think about a site with cross-niche appeal like Amazon. It stocks almost everything, and it’s so immensely wealthy that it can afford to slash its prices when useful. This makes life really tough for smaller companies. If they charge too much, they can’t compete. If they charge too little, they can’t make any profit, and thus can’t grow.
The solution to this issue involves using dynamic pricing tools to keep certain prices in line with shopper expectations, finding relatively unknown items to stock (preventing broad comparison), and concentrating on things other than being cheapest (like having the best customer service, for instance, or offering the most flexible shipping options).
Building their reputations
A brand that can’t build a reputation is barely a brand at all — but even if you manage to get people to remember you, there’s a possibility that they’ll go away with negative impressions. And in the social media world, the old saying of “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” is frequently shown to be obsolete. Even a small amount of backlash can destroy you.
The solution here is to monitor brand mentions across all relevant channels (your website, social media sites, your support lines, industry blogs, etc.) and engage with what people are saying about you. Where there are negative comments, address them carefully but positively. Try to change how your critics view you. And where there are positive comments, respond to them gracefully and thankfully. Show that you truly appreciate the support you receive.
Producing enough content
Every decent brand needs to generate content, typically through a blog and two or three social media profiles. This is to boost SEO overall (because Google likes to send traffic to active sites), attract visits to highlighted pages, and demonstrate to prospective customers that you have enough industry expertise to make you a trustworthy seller. But creating enough good content is a serious challenge for any company.
So how can you manage it? In truth, it largely comes down to careful scheduling. By planning your content calendar well ahead of time, you can know exactly how long you have to get things done, avoid overwork, and lighten your creative load by allowing you to flit back and forth between different brief outlines. Consistently matters more than frequency, so managing to upload one blog post each week for two months is better than managing two-per-week for a month before going radio-silent for a further month.