Common e-commerce mistakes and how to avoid them

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March 23, 2023
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Running an e-commerce business is easier now than ever before. There are a number of ways you can create an online shop without needing to understand coding, whether you want something off-the-shelf or something developed specifically for you. But getting the shop live is just the beginning of your e-commerce journey, and making sure you are managing your accounts and other aspects of your business well will be the key to success.

There are so many things to think about that it is easy to make mistakes when you are a newbie, so here we go through some of the common mistakes that e-commerce business owners make and how to avoid them.

Dealing with online payments

Getting paid is the ultimate goal in business, no matter what you are selling. When you take payments online, the number of choices you have to facilitate those payments is wider than you might imagine. Companies like Stripe, PayPal and Square, to name but a few, can all deal with the payments side for you, but the cost of doing so will vary between each. So, choose carefully because this will immediately impact your profit margin. But there is no point in using a payment partner that is cheap but will not allow you to take all forms of payment you need to.

You also need to think about two-factor authentication and PCI DSS 4.0 which came into effect last year. All of this can be dealt with by your payment services provider, or can be dealt with by you directly. But for most people, taking on this level of complexity in payments is something they would not want to consider. Without being aware of this and understanding how it affects your business, you could be setting yourself up for some serious trouble if you are not compliant.

Reconcile your accounts and identify which regions you are selling to

Depending on how much you are selling, you may need to reconcile your sales each day. This allows you to keep a close eye not just on your successful sales, but also sales that may have failed or were not completed at some point in the process. If appropriate, these can be followed up with marketing emails to get feedback and, perhaps, revive that sale.

By monitoring your sales, you can see which of your products are selling well, which are not, and where geographically your business is most successful. This is a key benefit of an e-commerce business – you can sell worldwide as long as you can deliver the products to customers in various countries. This insight can help you use your marketing spend most effectively too by targeting advertising to the areas where it is likely to have the most impact.

If you hold stock, that is inventory added to your balance sheet, but holding too much will reduce the amount of money you have to run other parts of the business. If you are just starting out, then holding excess stock can be a drain on resources, so keeping tight control of what is selling and what is not, and incentivising purchases for products that are not performing as well with discounts, for example, is very important.

Know your profit margins

Selling online reduces your costs significantly compared to having your own shop. But it can be easy to be so busy selling and marketing your business to get more sales that you forget to work out what your margins are.


Some of your costs will be fluid – for example if you sell more of a particular product, then ordering in bulk may reduce the amount you have to pay to source each item which increases your margin. But some will be fixed, such as design costs to produce clothing items.

By calculating the cost of producing every item – including the design, manufacturing, delivery and any other costs involved in getting the product to you – you will be able to tell which of your products make the most money for you. This means you can focus on promoting the highest-margin products to help boost your business, which is essential especially when you are first starting out.

 

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