Whether you already own a brick-and-mortar business or you’re a new entrepreneur, ecommerce should be on your radar. Ecommerce refers to the act of buying and selling over the internet and represents an unrestricted, limitless form of entrepreneurship.
With almost every aspect hosted and managed in the cloud, you can take care of your business without having to leave the comfort of your home. A good example of cloud-based businesses in South Africa are Takealot and Superbalist.
Branching out into the borderless world of ecommerce is the perfect way to tap into new opportunities and discover your business’s hidden potential.
So, if you’ve got a thrilling business idea that’ll knock consumers’ socks off, this is your sign to go for it!
5 Ecommerce Challenges and How to Beat Them
While we live for optimism and good vibes, we also understand that sometimes you can’t escape small business growing pains. That’s why we’ve put together this list of challenges – and solutions – so you know exactly what to expect and how to handle the curveballs.
1. Complex set-up
Operating an online business may save you many headaches associated with a physical store, but it still has its own set of challenges. For starters, moving an existing business online is a complicated and time-consuming task, especially if tech is not your forte. Among the many sub-tasks involved in building a website are product uploads and setting up your payment gateway.
The solution: Your first option is to outsource the website development to a web designer. A professional will be better equipped to build your online store front, without any glitches or holes in your consumer journey.
If you’re super determined to DIY your website, you can always do some upskilling to learn the ins and outs of website development. To make life easier, there are several online tools you can use to build a website, like Squarespace, WebFlow and Wix.
Ready to explore the DIY route? Check out this beginner’s guide to building your own website!
2. Data security
It’s only natural for consumers to be extra careful with their banking details and to be wary about the platforms they share their details on. If your data security measures are not up to scratch, you’ll find it very hard to win customers (let alone keep them!).
Remember, we now have the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) that regulates the use of our personal information. Basically, this Act seeks to prevent fraud, identity theft and other forms of infringement on one’s privacy. You could land yourself in hot water with local authorities if you don’t comply with the POPI Act, so it’s best to be on the safe side.
- Make a concerted effort to only collect information you need.
- Use appropriate security measures to protect the information you collect.
- Only store the information for as long as you need it.
- Embed a cookie consent form on your website.
3. Customer experience
Unfortunately, ecommerce removes the personal element of customer experience and interaction. This means that you no longer get to analyse a customer’s body language or tone of voice, nor can you give them sales assistance to guide them to find what they need. That said, these factors are essential to positive customer experiences, so you might be missing out without them.
The solution: While you won’t be able to give customers the same experience they’d get in store, there are still ways to connect with them from your side of the screen. How about popping them a personal email to check on whether they’re enjoying their previous purchase? Even a phone call would do! Think about innovative ways to connect with your customers without needing to see them in person – your loyal customer base will thank you!
Need help building strong customer relationships? Check out this blog to learn more about how to build strong customer relationships!
4. Order fulfilment
Have you ever heard the saying “When it rains, it pours”? When orders come streaming in, do you have the capacity and staff complement to manage order fulfilment? Especially if you’re a solopreneur, things can get quite hectic if you’re responsible for managing everything.
The solution: Hire a few part-time employees to help you get those orders out the door. Sometimes an extra pair of hands is all you need to get things running smoothly again.
If hiring employees is out of your budget, you could consider extending the delivery waiting period offered to customers. And if you just can’t manage it, don’t forget to communicate delays with your customers. The last thing you want is to frustrate and disappoint a customer who’s been waiting patiently for their package.
5. High costs
Sometimes it can feel like every move you make as an entrepreneur requires a payment. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid these costs. But what you can do is prepare for them to come knocking on your door so that you’re not left flabbergasted when they appear. Watch out for those sneaky hidden costs that tend to build up and nibble away at your hard-earned moola.
The solution: This isn’t quite a solution as much as it’s a coping mechanism to prevent your inbox from being flooded with bills. Before starting a task such as building your website, make sure you’re aware of all the costs involved and that you have the means to cover them. The other thing you can do is compare quotes from different providers and go with the one that fits your needs and budget.
Unlock Your Small Business’s Potential with Ecommerce!
Stand out from the crowd and take advantage of the opportunities available, thanks to ecommerce. Go forth and conquer, small business warriors!
Looking for some more resources to get your online business going in no time? Check out our Hitchhiker’s Guide to Making Money Online for everything you need to know.