Are you a business decision-maker
- Who is strategic in nature,
- Who is looking to grow,
- Who has a long term vision about your businesses,
- Who has gone through un-satisfactory eCommerce implementation,
- Who has run its business on an outdated eCommerce platform,
- Who has a need to get the most out of their eCommerce investments,
- Who wants to make sure that their next eCommerce investment is a sure success?
If your answer is yes to at least one of these questions, then you should read on.
How often have you come across businesses and eCommerce companies who blame the high rate of eCommerce failure on the increasing competition in the B2C sector? Many people in the industry seem to believe that applies mostly if not solely to the B2C sector. However, that is far from the truth. The numbers clearly show us that the B2B eCommerce projects are also failing at an alarming rate.
This indicates that even if we discard the huge number of B2C eCommerce startup failures, other significant reasons are contributing to this catastrophic failure rate in eCommerce projects. Now, more than ever, the tough times are calling for efficient utilization of resources in our personal as well as business lives, and eCommerce projects are not an exception.
Based on our extensive experience of working with 900+ eCommerce businesses and delivering eCommerce stores that withstand the test of time, we have found the following reasons that can doom your eCommerce projects.
1. Lack of Understanding of the True Role of eCommerce
As an eCommerce store owner, you might have heard the statement, “Business is not B2B or B2C, but rather H2H (Human to Human).” In any business, there are 5 categories of people with their own distinct goals: Customers, Partners, Employees, Investors, and Prospects. Apart from this, there can be a number of internal and external systems that need to be integrated to make information readily available across departments and your partners.
You get the most out of your eCommerce investments when you understand that the true power of eCommerce goes beyond selling your products online. The bigger your brand grows, the more it becomes similar to a B2B business. At this point, it is no longer about just selling online. When implemented correctly, your eCommerce platform becomes your digital enterprise hub from where you can administer your entire business.
- It helps you to meet the objectives of the “5 types of people” in your business and raises overall productivity.
- It connects disparate systems, both internal and external, reducing your cost of operations and increasing efficiency, adding to your bottom line that is critical to your revenue generation.
- It helps you to deliver a delightful customer and prospect’s experience.
For an eCommerce store to be successful, you and your eCommerce partner must have this thorough understanding of the true role of eCommerce in your business.
2. Lack of Planning
Any successful endeavor demands meticulous planning, and the same goes for eCommerce projects. A typical eCommerce project should start with a discovery call. A good, holistic discovery call should comprise discussions that focus on the following.
a. The short term and long term objectives of the business.
b. Pain points and wishlist of
2. Stakeholders or store operators
4. Systems (external and internal)
The output of this discovery call, along with market or competitor insights, should become the core input to your eCommerce strategy in your eCommerce planning phase. Some of the activities and deliverables in the planning phase are survey, digital roadmap, requirement specification, and wireframes.
Lack of planning is often the undoing of many eCommerce ventures. Many wannabe entrepreneurs rush into eCommerce with an “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it” attitude. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Although eCommerce is a pretty straight-forward business model, there are a lot of intricacies involved, which often go unnoticed by the less informed.
The key to planning your eCommerce venture is always to keep your business in mind every step of the way. You should never go with the “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it” approach when it comes to eCommerce. Although on the exterior, the eCommerce may look easy once you start walking the walk, you’ll realize it’s not as effortless as you thought it’d be.
You need to do your research on eCommerce and gain a better understanding of it before you can take your business online. What often happens is that the website is set on the best platform suggested by Google or by an eCommerce company. The thing that is missing in both these scenarios is that neither of them takes your business or its unique needs into account.
The result? You could end up with an eCommerce store that can’t adapt to the unique requirements of your business. You may not be able to add a cool functionality to your store because of the limitations of the platform. Your site may not support heavy content on it, although your business requires it. The problems you could face because of a lack of planning could be severe.
Proper planning also involves looking at your eCommerce website from the user’s perspective. Because by the end of the day, the future of your eCommerce site is in the hands of the users or customers. The planning should include creating an outline of your eCommerce website. Consider how to make navigating through your store and browsing for products easier for your customers.
3. Lack of Understanding of Holistic Goals
In many instances of the planning phase, it is easy to solely focus on the business objectives while forgetting about the human factor in your business. A well-balanced planning phase should also take the objective of five types of people - customers, prospects, partners, investors, and store employees - in your business. For example, as with any IT project, ignoring the needs and wants of internal employees can tank the project even when it comes to eCommerce.
It is quintessential to have a well-defined goal for your business in mind. You must never lose sight of what you set out for. You need to keep in mind the requirements of the “five types of people” that are a part of your business. We’ve had clients who had had to switch their eCommerce platform twice before reaching out to us simply because his employees could not handle the platform.
Sometimes businesses even overlook the primary goals of their business simply because they are new to eCommerce. What to sell, whom to sell to, and where to sell to - must all be clearly defined and considered throughout the entire planning phase. This will, in turn, prove essential to narrow down your targeted audience and formulate an effective digital marketing strategy.
4. Platform Focus
Time and again businesses dangerously put their platform choices before the business requirements. Your business needs should come first and not the platform. The ideal process is to understand and define your business objectives and people's needs first. Then find a platform that meets those needs and objectives. A platform should be selected to conform to your business objectives, not the other way around.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform is one of the most important steps that you need to invest your time in during the planning process. As I've said earlier, each business is unique. Each business has a unique clientele, product catalog, and way of operation. The most popular eCommerce platform isn't necessarily the one for your business. It takes experience and in-depth knowledge to know the difference.
We've often had businesses come to us to migrate their eCommerce store to a different platform that is capable of supporting their business. One of them came to us after they had tried migrating to a new platform twice! Because it was hard for their employees to handle business on the platform they were then using.
Before choosing the eCommerce platform for your business, you need to carefully analyze your business and come up with the important feature set. The feature set could be anything like the ability to apply multiple layers of filters on product searches in case you have an extensive product catalog. Ability to implement drop shipping, individual pricing in case you intend to sell to both B2B and B2C.
Entrepreneurs and startups are often misled by the eCommerce platforms by creating an impression that eCommerce is a cakewalk. They imply that once you create an eCommerce store, the business will start flowing to your store. However, this is far from the truth. Although many eCommerce platforms are easy to handle nowadays, businesses often require custom themes and functionalities.
In reality, although eCommerce stores are easy to set up, it takes the hands of a true expert to create one that is successful. eCommerce companies often pick a platform for your business that they specialize in, this makes their work easier. Although sometimes such websites may seem to work fine initially, in the long run, it'll do more harm to your business than good.
What you need is an eCommerce partner who is platform agnostic like Virtina. With certified experts in all major eCommerce platforms, we can help you pick the right platform for your business and not ours. A detailed analysis of your business is carried out before shortlisting eCommerce platforms for your business. Furthermore, we discuss all the custom features, appearance, and other attributes for your business and narrow down your options to the best possible result.
5. Just Another Website
Understand this "Your eCommerce site is NOT just another website." If done correctly, it will be the hub of your digital enterprise that brings you closest to your revenue, profit, and customer experience goals. Give the importance, attention, and seriousness it deserves for your long term business success.
One of the most naive mistakes that many businesses make when it comes to taking their business online is to do it for namesake. Even the store owners who cling to the old way of doing business now realize that having an online presence is a must. It has come to a point where the first place that a customer or a potential employee looks you up is the internet. Not having an online presence automatically brings down your trustability scale.
Businesses have come to understand this fact, and hence most of them make an effort to have an online presence. But, this often ends up being a namesake website that their customers can use to find and verify the businesses. In other words, its function is simply to serve as proof of credibility. However, it is not the right way to go about it. If you are going through the trouble of getting your business online, not optimizing it for eCommerce would be a mistake.
Many store owners who still embrace the traditional form of doing business see eCommerce as this hostile entity that they can not tame. But, the truth is that if done right, it can be the central hub from where you can control and coordinate your entire business. This includes automation, which not only makes your work faster but also more precise. It can connect all your systems together, everything from CRM to tax returns to inventory management.
The fact that there is a higher chance of boosting your revenue through eCommerce than any other way is just one of the reasons why you should take your business online. Even the most painstaking task, like tax returns, may be automated with the help of eCommerce. The bigger your business, the better it'll be for your business to get online. So, when you choose not to take an eCommerce approach for your business, you are actually holding back the full potential of your business.
6. Partner Task Misfit
Imagine your business as a powerful sports car. And you want it to participate and win at a sports car rally competition. Unlike the typical race, a rally has two key differences: you are on a very rugged road, and the visibility can be abysmal. In order to win this tough race, you need three things.
a. A great car (sturdy and agile)
b. A great driving team (driver and co-driver)
c. A great pit crew
Now, as the owner of this Rally team, will you entrust your driving team with all the three components needed to win? Your answer to that would obviously be a big "NO."
Well, your eCommerce business is no different. Like a Rally, in order to win the eCommerce business, you need three ingredients.
a. A great eCommerce platform (the car)
b. A great marketing team - Eg: Your director or marketing manager (the driver) and outsourced digital marketing agency ( the co-driver)
c. And a technical support team (the pit crew)
Even though most of the rally team owners will not trust their driving team to build the car or be the pit crew for the race, in the eCommerce world, the practice is just the opposite. Most of the business owners place their trust in the hands of their outsourced creative or marketing agency to build their eCommerce store (building the car). They expect them to provide the support (being the pit crew). On the other hand, they expect their in-house marketing/sales/operations to be the stakeholder in the project.
As I’ve explained above, an eCommerce implementation phase for a serious business is a human-centered software engineering project. It definitely takes a software engineering mindset, approach, and process to build the right engine. What’s even more concerning is that your outsourced marketing agency may not have the experience or expertise to be your “car builder” (eCommerce implementation team) or be the “pit crew” (the support team). And having your marketing experts to engineer the eCommerce solution can be another sure path to failure.
A better approach would be to select a software engineering company like Viritna with in-depth knowledge and experience in multiple eCommerce platforms to strategize, design, develop and support your eCommerce site while letting your marketing team do what they do best - marketing.
7. Wrong Platform
Following the example of the car rally, to win the race, you must select the engine that meets the "needs of the road." Seeing as the engine is the most important component of the car, choosing the wrong one could be disastrous. The same is the case for the eCommerce platform, and the wrong one could end up doing more harm than good.
According to the two most popular technology tracking websites Datanyze and BuildWith, there are approximately 500+ eCommerce platforms available for businesses to choose from. So how do you choose from this sea of eCommerce platforms, the ideal one for your business? The 20 points below are all the factors that your business should consider while selecting the ideal eCommerce platform, beyond the decisions like SaaS vs. self-hosted vs. headless vs. decoupled.
As you can see, choosing the right platform for your eCommerce business can be a very challenging task. Not every platform is a fit for your unique business. An experienced eCommerce development company like Virtina with expertise, certified partnerships in multiple platforms, and an unbiased approach to platform selection can help you figure out the right platform for your business.
8. Weak Implementation or Build Process
An engineering project must be approached like an engineering project and nothing less. You need to put in the same effort and precision that you’d put into an engineering project. Treating your eCommerce site as a JAW (Just Another Website) often leads to catastrophic project failure. A well laid out implementation plan should have clearly defined phases shown below.
- Platform Selection
The phases should have iterations built to accommodate flexibility and learning while reducing the risk of cost and time. Ideally, it'd also balance the scope creep while keeping the costs and timelines in check.Depending on the client, budget, timeline, and other preferences, either an Adaptive Hybrid or Adaptive Agile Implementation Process can be used.
Adaptive Hybrid Implementation Process
Adaptive Agile Implementation Process
9. Build, They Will “NOT” Come
Let's assume that you did manage to create the best eCommerce store for your business for a minute. What next? Do you just sit and wait to get an enormous spike in traffic and conversions? If you intend to get into the eCommerce business with such assumptions, let me stop you from doing so.
Just because you have built the best eCommerce store does not mean that your sales will sky-rocket. You have to invest in organic reach - eCommerce SEO, content commerce, content marketing - and even in paid marketing to reach your eCommerce store's full potential.
With the right marketing team (remember the driving team), the right channels for the target customer demographics, the right content, and the right marketing tool, you can attract the optimum number of visitors to your site. At Virtina, our core focus is on building the ideal engine (eCommerce store), and we rely upon a few selected marketing partners whom we may recommend (at least two) if you are ever in need of one.
10. Absence of Continuous Improvement
When it comes to eCommerce, you can implement “continuous improvement” through 3 different but mutually related optimization techniques.
a. Content Optimization
The goal is to optimize the content for organic reach and SEO using techniques and tools focusing on keywords, search engine rank positions (SERPs). You can even make use of the latest strategies like content commerce and content marketing.
b. Conversion Rate Optimization
By definition, the conversion rate is the number of desired actions per visit. In eCommerce, this is translated into "number of orders per visit" which is just one of the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for eCommerce. Focusing on just one KPI might be sufficient for informational sites that are non-transactional in nature. But for a transactional eCommerce site, multiple KPIs need to be considered. So instead of a Conversion Rate Optimization approach, the better process would be a Holistic, Data-Driven Commerce Revenue approach.
c. Performance Optimization
Now, more than ever, delivering pages at high speeds has become mandatory to rank higher in search engine results and to meet decreasing patience levels of your customers. A slow website could be the one thing that can single-handedly bring down your eCommerce store. Users wait for a matter of seconds for the website to load and often tend to abandon browsing on the site if it has high loading time.
A well laid out performance optimization touches multiple components of the site such as front end code, back end code, database, multimedia content, CDN, images, AMP, and finally server/infrastructure. You should also keep in mind that performance optimization is an interactive process and, therefore, continuous. It is not a one time process and hence should be updated regularly.
Want to make sure your next project is a success? Let's start with laying out a solid eCommerce site strategy. Let's strategize now!