Don’t spin your wheels, avoid these e-commerce issues.
There is a tendency in people to get locked or fixated on ideas. This can be a good thing when it comes to a business because it guarantees follow through and effort to bring the concept to life. However, this same characteristic can become a source of frustration and failure if it is not given enough practical thought.
People, all the time want to open an online business for their product idea or service. While this desire is the foundation of any small business, it is also the launchpad of failure. I try to be as honest with people as possible, because there is nothing worse than spending time and energy building a business and having it fail due to a bad idea.
The most common problem I see with new businesses is that people have ideas that are either unrealistic or just plain bad. It is quite possible for a person to have a great idea but this idea may be limited by his or her resources. For instance, I had a client who wanted to build a business that would have required tremendous startup capital and enormous amounts of time building the website. Despite the fact that this person did not have the money for this project, he persisted in the idea thinking that he could find someone to do coding for the website and that someone would finance the project. He is still looking for a developer and still looking for an investor. Sadly, good ideas are only beneficial if they can be actualized.
When it comes to e-commence, nobody is going to code your massive idea on contingency or without some form of payment. Design and development are the most expensive areas of a business because they take tremendous amounts of time and energy to complete. People makes this mistake with applications all the time. They come up with an application idea but have no means of making the application, since they do not know how to write code or use the softwares. No one is going to code an untested unproven application without being paid. Even if they like your idea, what is to stop them from just writing the application and selling it without you?
This leads into the other area of product ideas- bad ideas. It is easy to be biased to your own ideas and this is a dangerous thing. This problem is made worse by the fact that people will tell you things like- “you have to believe in your idea” or “you have to take risks to make money”. The problem in this situation is that people have this propensity to view all ideas as equal in nature. This is simply not true. A bad idea is a bad idea and no amount of belief or risk you take is going to make it a good one.
I had a customer who wanted to design a business that was similar to a preexisting restaurant. At the time the woman approached me, the original restaurant was already permanently closed. While a business may close for any number of reasons, I am immediately suspect of any business model based on a failed company. I expressed my concerns but the client pressed me to help with a business plan.
"Sure it failed- but I just know I will make it work!"
By the time we got to the due diligence report, it was evident that this idea was not going to work. Despite having the facts in front of her, she still wanted to press forward with a business plan. Worse yet, she wanted to use the business plan to try to obtain funding. I told her that in good faith, I could not charge her to write a business plan that I knew was going to fail and we parted ways. The failure of her to critically view her product and business idea created a situation in which she was doomed to waste money and time. Had she just revisited the idea and tried to alter it or correct the problems, she may have been able to create a winning concept. If you cannot critically look at your own ideas, you are constantly at risk of wasting time and resources on bad ideas.
SEO is another area of e-commerce where people get too focused and begin spinning their wheels. This is one of the worst areas of time wasting. People honestly believe that there is some magic fix to SEO that will somehow make their products sell, or will bring traffic to their site. I don’t blame people for falling into this trap because SEO is constantly toted as the essential ingredient that makes a website sell. Anyone who has an e-commerce has fallen into this trap. They keep working on product descriptions and pages hoping to stumble upon the magic cure.
The problem with this thinking is that you lose sight of real business goals because you are relying on search engines to do your marketing for you. Realistically, if your product pages are designed in accordance with what search engines demand, then you need to concentrate on other areas of marketing such as email campaigns, advertising, or creating content designed to engage consumers.
This same problem occurs in other areas of SEO such as backlinking. Backlinking is one of the biggest wastes of time especially for new e-commerce because no one is going to give you a link to their really popular website unless you have something that truly justifies them putting the link on a page. Part of the problem with backlinking is that web pages are ranked by their relevance and quality. The way that search engines judge these parameters is anybody’s guess, but one thing that is known for sure is that placing too many links, or links directed to bad websites can damage your authority with the search engine. This begs the question, “why on earth would I give you a link not knowing who you are or what your product is about?” People waste enormous amounts of time trying to create backlinks and this time could be put to better use building real content or designing marketing campaigns that are meant to engage audiences. The bottom line is that search engines can spot poor linking and poor content with relative ease. Even if you manage to get a popular blogger or site to put a link on their content there is still no guarantee that this is going to increase your traffic or sales.
It is popular and it is ubiquitous to website design, but I have yet to see anyone making real money from social media except on Pinterest. Having a Facebook or Twitter page is a good idea because it provides “credibility” but the reality is that social media is an unproven selling tool and people waste enormous amounts of time promoting their website and products via Facebook and Twitter. Again rather than trying to engage people on these sites, it may be more beneficial to create rich content that engages users.
I am a large proponent of content marketing because it is a proven method to increase traffic. However, this form of marketing is not without its downsides. People waste their time on limited and irrelevant content. For example, product descriptions are not great content. While I think that it is important to make product descriptions unique, these pages are automatically recognized by the search engine and immediately ranked lower than articles and blogs. While you want to write quality unique descriptions, you need to not spend all your time in this area because the page rank is limited due to it being a product.
One of the strangest parts of e-commerce is the problem of creating content. If you want to rank a website and attract traffic and customers, then you must have content. Surprisingly, almost no one who creates a website or starts an online business is aware of this crucial point. Once many people discover that they need to write content in order to drive business to their website, they immediately begin looking for alternatives or content solutions. Sadly, these owners are often shocked to find out how much content costs. Many of these owners will seek an inexpensive means of obtaining content or create it themselves.
People will try all kinds of crazy things to fulfill content needs. People will buy cheap articles from sites like Elance and other social media sites only to find that these do not work, or in the worst case- damage SEO. People will use spinner software to recreate articles (which is just a terrible method). These and other methods of obtaining content are just bad ideas and you will waste enormous amounts of time trying to create content using these methods.
E-Commerce Best Practices
There are so many areas of e-commerce that waste time that it would be impossible to list them all. There is a means of solving this problem and it is based on best practices. If you own a business, all of your time cannot be consumed by website demands. The best thing to do is to choose a practice that works best for your business and concentrate on this. If you sell creative custom toilet bowls then you need to create business practices for marketing and product development that works with this product.
Article content about toilets is not likely to be the answer and neither is Social Media. You may need to focus your practices into networking with builders and using sites such as Amazon and Ebay. Similarly, if you sell WEB content, then you will need to create tons of written content that attracts individuals looking to learn about content marketing and perhaps buy content.
Every business is different and individualizing your approach to WEB design and marketing should be based on the type of products/services, and what is realistic for them.