Working from home can be wonderful — and you finally figured out how to do it — but as with any new endeavor, there’s a learning curve… Becoming an online seller can be very lucrative and fulfilling, but it can also be very frustrating and overwhelming; start without a plan, and you may find yourself shut down before your business even gets off the ground! So, to help keep your business heading for success, we’ve outlined 7 rookie mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Mistake 1: Not knowing your customer.
Yes, you have great stuff to sell, but to whom are you selling? If you think that simply setting up a site and displaying all your cool wares is enough to make folks come clicking credit card in hand, then you might not wind up moving as much product as you’d planned.
You’re running a business; businesses must market; knowing exactly who to target takes research.
Picture your ideal customer:
- Man, or woman, or maybe both
- Millennial or Baby Boomer — or somewhere in between
- Married or Single
- Parents or Professionals (or professional parents)
The more details you can garner about the type of person you’re most likely to sell to, the more targeted your marketing can be, and the more successful your store will be.
Mistake 2: Not understanding how customers can find your business online.
You have a truckload of the coolest video games ever made, an amazing brand that would make hard-core gamers drool, and you’ve expertly arranged and curated your shop…. so, where are all the customers?
They can’t find you!
Setting up your shop is only half the job; you also must have your listings optimized for search engines, like Google, so that you appear in users searches.
Teach yourself about keywords and links – for free – by using online guides like this one. Incorporate those key words into your listing titles and descriptions.
Mistake 3: Using generic or broad merchandise descriptions.
Use every single character available to describe why your merchandise is MUST HAVE!
Which sounds more appealing: “Scented mason jar candles in a variety of colors.” OR “Gorgeous hand-made scented candles in decorative mason jars perfect for every occasion. Mom will love Warm Vanilla Sugar for Mother’s Day; Merry Mint makes the perfect holiday gift; the smell of fresh cut roses is great in any room; and what man doesn’t love the aroma of Whiskey & Jazz?”
By using descriptive words, you’re painting a picture for your prospective customer; sell them an experience, and you’ll definitely stand out in the over-crowded online marketplace.
Mistake 4: Using poor quality photos.
Because your buyer can’t access the item until after purchase, it is imperative that they are able to see every aspect and angle of it online.
Don’t simply snap one or two pics, with your phone, then quickly upload them to your site and expect stellar sales. Seeing is believing, online, so show them the world!
- Take numerous – quality – photos (with the option to zoom in) so they can read every character on the box or bag.
- Make sure the photos are clear and well-lit and taken against a plain color background, (though your kid or cat is the cutest ever, they have no place in the photo of the designer handbag you’re selling in your store!)
- Offer multiple photos, and document any damage, the last thing you want to do is deceive customers about the quality of the item.
And DO NOT use stock photos! This gives the impression that you, either, don’t have the exact same item or that the one you do have is of lesser quality.
Show them exactly what they’re getting, every time, period.
Mistake 5: Not measuring key metrics.
With an online store, you don’t get the same level of customer interaction as you might with a physical storefront. So how do you figure out what drives their buying decisions? You make use of web analytics! These tools help you better understand your visitors and optimize your store for sales.
Growing an online store takes two key ingredients:
- Choosing the right performance indicators such as site traffic and actual sales
- Having an analytics system in place to measure your key metrics
Google analytics is one of the most popular tools to measure website traffic. It helps you understand your visitors, analyze their behavior and much more. If you have an Etsy store, then Etsy stats can show you both the volume of traffic to your store as well as the traffic sources. Additionally, third party analytics tool like Whatify, (our state-of-the-art photo analytics app that figures out which product photos drive the most traffic to your shop) can help you increase your sales.
There is an old saying that goes: What gets measured, gets managed. If you can’t measure something, you will have little chance of improving it. Without the help of analytics, your efforts at improving your store will be a shot in the dark at best.
Mistake 6: Overcharging for shipping.
If you’ve ever done any shopping on e-commerce sites, like Amazon, you may have experienced this strange and ridiculous tactic.
You type in a product you’d like to purchase, like a fidget spinner, and up pops 30 options from which to choose. Sort them by price, and you’ll see some for as low as $1.00! ‘Whoa! I’ve just hit the FS jackpot!” you think to yourself until you drop it in your cart and see the price jump to $25.00!
The seller lured you in with an unheard of low price, simply to make up the difference in over-inflated shipping & handling charges. (How much effort does it really take to drop a 70g toy in a box with no packing and no paperwork?!) The postage itself, sent domestically, is less than $5.00.
Working in this manner will not only cost you sales, (because it is seriously SHADY,) but it may cost you your entire store as sites, like eBay, may shut you down for using this practice.
Instead, offer quality merchandise – actually measure and weigh the item and packing – then include this information in the listing; buyers don’t like surprises!
Go a step further, and offer free shipping, and your platform may even reward you! eBay has been known to do just that.
Mistake 7: Not offering a return option.
People HATE throwing away their money.
In fact, many people will refuse to buy an item without an option to return it for ANY reason they choose.
Shopping online only intensifies the desire for a “money back guarantee” or “no questions asked” return policy because consumers are truly buying items on faith, (in a brick and mortar store the customer can try on/touch/feel/hold/taste/smell the item prior to purchase,) online it can be a real crapshoot.
So, even though dealing with returns may be disappointing (or downright overwhelming,) accept returns from your customers; listings that state a clear return policy are far more attractive to buyers.
Just remember, an unhappy customer who can easily return an item may just turn into a life-long buyer because you went above and beyond with your customer service.
Now, of course, you’re still going to make mistakes — that’s the only way we learn to do something well — but if you avoid these seven, you’ll be well on your way to building the business of your dreams from the comfort of your own home.
About the author: Angie Nelson began working from home in 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today she shares her passion for making money from home on her blog The Work at Home Wife. Visit her site for a free 7-day series on finding work from home.