I am going to blog about this question today because all too often, I get asked and instead of replying one by one, I am going to say what I have to say in this blog post.
I have friends and acquaintances who, excited and eager to set up their online shop or ecommerce website, often become very disappointed when they realise that they have more ‘lookers’ than ‘buyers’. And that’s a big problem.
It’s like opening your shop and you have lots of people who walk in, browse a bit, smile and walk out. They’re not opening their wallets and they’re definitely not buying from your shop.
Online Shops Are Tougher…
Believe me when I say that an online shop is sometimes even much harder to manage than a regular brick-and-mortar shop. At least with a brick-and-mortar shop, you can “see” your actual prospects and whether they’re interested from their body language and facial expressions when they’re in your shop.
With an online shop, you cannot see these direct clues. You don’t know what’s happening. That’s why getting an online store set up is just the beginning. You will need to arm yourself with enough skills and knowledge to run and manage your ecommerce website.
This reminds me of a person I know. Again, I shall use a pseudonym because I want to use his example to show you how and why most online endeavours fail. And for all the wrong reasons too.
Let Me Tell You About Jack
Jack runs a retail shop (a real brick-and-mortar shop) and an online shop. He started dabbling with an online shop early this year and got quite excited, having big dreams of selling to everyone in the world. I told him, hang on, wait a minute, you should find out a real target market or at least hone in on a region instead of saying “Ya, I want to sell to the whole world.”
I advised him that he should also check if his products can be mailed to certain countries such as the USA or Europe (some products may not be mailed so easily).
I explained that he needed to be realistic too; opening an online shop is great but it’s much more than just having the ability to process credit cards and take online payment. Jack needed to know the ins and outs of how to promote his ecommerce website and online promotion should be an ongoing effort, not a one-off thing.
But that’s what most people don’t understand: they think online promotion is just awfully hard and they’d rather complain why they’re not getting sales instead of looking at their own efforts in promo and marketing (which they won’t admit they’re not doing – I understand it completely, who wants to admit their faults, right?). But admitting one’s weaknesses can do a great deal more – at least you can start finding a solution.
Jack emailed me and said that he’s really thinking twice about his online endeavour. Should he continue? Should he just chuck it? He thinks that nothing is working, after a mere 9 months online!
The thing is, 9 months online is nothing. It’s just the beginning. It’s just the tip. Giving up is easy. It’s easier to say “Hey, I tried but it failed and I’m back to running my offline shop.”
You Know What Jack’s Problem Is?
But I can clearly see his problem. He did not spend enough time promoting his website online. He did not give his website enough time to bring in results. You know, that’s the sad thing about today’s “I-want-it-now” culture. People are too impatient to wait for results. They want instant gratification and they want their million bucks now, preferably when they’re in the pajamas too.
So I did not mince my words. I told him that he probably should look at himself and see if he really spent time and effort promoting his website.
If not, why? Not enough knowledge? Come on! This is the age of information.
Go and find that info online. Use a search engine or two. Buy some books at the bookstore. Read it up. Or go talk to people who are succeeding at their online shops – beware, these people might still tell you that’s it’s always a challenge with any business and not only an online business.
Having a shop online is a longterm venture. It’s not something you start on a part-time basis and hope to God it brings you enough dollars so you can retire at 30. A shop online needs effort but hey, who wants to hear about putting in hard work when all they want is to hear the (online) cash register go ‘ka-ching’?
So if there’s no effort, is it any wonder that there’s no positive results to speak of?
Some Ecommerce Tips
Let me share with you some real world tips I often give my clients: If no one is buying from your online shop, check your shop.
* Check the checkout process.
* Check your web copy (is it enticing or plain boring?).
* Check your products – have you literally ‘dumped’ all products online?
* Have you confused your prospects when they’re at your website?
* Have you made their lives difficult when they’re in your online shop?
* Check the web analytics. What does the info say about who’s coming and who’s going? What’s not working? * What’s bugging them NOT to buy? (And if you’re going “Errr. What’s web analytics?” I suggest you google that too.)
Here’s One Example Of What Successful Ecommerce Is
Read about Yeo’s passion which took him from pure hobby to amazing online business in this blog post of mine. He’s a good friend and a successful online retailer of a specialised hobby!