The Biggest eCommerce Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Scaling eCommerce

Whether you’re already selling products online or are still in the beginning phases of planning an online venture, there are many eCommerce challenges facing online stores that you should be aware of.

Online shopping has transformed the modern day marketplace and retail experience. No longer are people required to visit a series of physical stores to find the perfect item. Instead, they’re opening their computers and will receive the ideal product with a few clicks.

Even though this sounds quick, easy and painless, there are actually several challenges that eCommerce entrepreneurs face with the running of their online stores.

To help you avoid some of these pitfalls, we’ve put together a list of the top eCommerce challenges that face online stores.

Accurately communicating products

Online shopping means that your customers are unable to handle the product beforehand. Product attributes such as sizing, dimensions, colour, material textures and more, may not translate accurately online. As a result, customers may be uncertain as to whether the product is exactly right for them.

If a customer purchases an item that they’re not fully satisfied with, they may request a refund, return or exchange. This eCommerce challenge results in a loss of revenue for the online store.

Suggestion: Advertising the product correctly is extremely important. Make sure that your website displays thorough product information and, if relevant, directions for use.

Product reviews from previous customers is a great tactic include. This will reassure potential purchasers beforehand. Finally, a video demonstration of the product may be a great element to include in your product description pages.  

Competing with large brands

The online landscape is a competitive place, and online retailers will come up against other brands selling the same or similar products. Conducting thorough consumer and competitor research, as well as developing a strong marketing strategy will certainly help your brand perform well in the face of competition. Beyond this, the extremely large online shopping brands – the behemoths – may pose a serious challenge to an online store.

Amazon, for example, is an example of such a behemoth brand, seemingly aiming to monopolise the entire online selling landscape.

When a customer decides to purchase a product, they may, by default, divert directly to Amazon to purchase. If not, during their search for an item online, they’ll more than likely come across a plethora of Amazon ads in the process.

Small and start-up online stores will find it challenging to compete with such a strong force. Coming up against large retailers is a challenge; however, there are a few tactics that can be employed.

Suggestion: A potential workaround is to consider selling some or all of your stock through these channels too. Shopping spaces such as Amazon and eBay already have a strong network of shoppers. Presenting some of your offerings within the same space can bring you customers that are already familiar with the online shopping experience of Amazon.

Hiring the right people to work on your team

One of the toughest challenges facing all businesses, not just online stores is staffing and resources.

Entrepreneurs, and particularly eCommerce entrepreneurs, have a high-level dedication to their businesses. Onboarding team members that share the same passion and drive will undoubtedly be a challenge, mainly as they won’t express the same invested interest in the company as the founder.

Finding an employee who mirrors the same level of dedication, passion and enthusiasm for the business can be a long and laborious. An even greater challenge is finding the right people to fulfil leadership roles within the organisation. Beyond being hard working, all employees should be trustworthy, reliable and organised. They should also have the ability to think out of the box – a key point in the online marketing and commerce space.

Suggestion: Whether you opt for posting jobs online, using a recruiter or approaching talent directly, make sure you have a good interviewing process. In the beginning stages, it is recommended that the founder of the business interviews directly. If not the founder, then a leader in the organisation that truly understands the brand’s vision.

You need to find the correct people that align with your vision. At the same time, you’ll need to align with their vision for their career. Make sure that your online store’s brand identity includes a set of brand values, and that the potential employee can compare their own set of values with those of your business. If your business has existing employees, consider letting the current members of your team meet the potential applicants to see whether there is synergy.

Finally, if you’re interested in onboarding a team member but would like to take a bit of time with the resource, consider a trial period of services, a probation period or even a short term internship with compensation.

Dealing with cart abandonment

After creating a stunning product and presenting it through a solid marketing strategy, there’s nothing more disheartening than missing the sale. Cart abandonment occurs when a customer places an item in their shopping cart but does not complete the transaction.

For some reason, the customer is not willing to through the full purchase process. There are many reasons that can influence this:

  • Your website requires customers to create a new account before purchasing, this can be seen as an inconvenience
  • Your website may present a confusing user experience and the customer may be unsure how to continue the purchase steps
  • Your purchase process may be too long and tedious, possibly with too many forms or unnecessary levels of pagination
  • You may be presenting hidden costs such as shipping fees or taxes that only appear in the Checkout phase and aren’t displayed upfront.

Suggestions: There are a number of tools and plugins that can help decrease and avoid cart abandonment. A few examples include making use of a live chatbot to answer queries with speed, popups that offer a discount code as the customer shows signs of exit intent and presenting a streamlined and uncluttered user experience at checkout.  

If you’re still building your online store, pay attention to the design of your shopping cart and the steps required for checkout. Also, pay attention to the design of the store, particularly on mobile. To make sure that your online store’s purchase process runs as smoothly as possible, create low fidelity mockups of your store and beta test these with friends or family members.

Perfecting customer service

In this day and age, customers have more influence than ever before. One unpleasant experience with a company can result in the public sharing of negative feedback.

Customers have incredibly high expectations. From accurate product depictions to short delivery time and swift responses to queries, there are plenty of steps along the online purchase journey where customers can experience dissatisfaction.

Today, customers can make contact with businesses at a plethora of contact points. They can fill out a contact form on your website, email you directly, make use of a live chatbot if one is installed on your site, send a direct message through a social channel, comment on a post on your feed and so on.

Suggestion: If you’re employing a multichannel marketing strategy, be prepared for consumer interactions at any of these points. Ensure that you have the right person or people manning these channels to either diffuse a customer’s negative brand experience or respond timeously to a customer’s positive experience.

These are just a few of the top eCommerce challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Other challenges can include poorly managed stock and inventory, issues in managing order refunds and returns, website threats and data insecurities, and much much more.

We hope that this collection of challenges of eCommerce stores helps you prep, plan or improve the functioning of your eCommerce website.

If you’d like help setting up and running your online store, get in touch with BuzzBrand and schedule a chat with one of our team members. We offer a broad range of services aimed at helping online stores thrive online!

What are the challenges that you have found while running your online store? Did you find solutions for them? Share them in the comments section below!

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