Smoking. Gambling. Using social media without a coherent, preplanned strategy. These are all considered bad habits, but only one holds back your ecommerce business.
Are you guilty of one of the 7 deadly sins of ecommerce? Below are the 7 most damaging habits we see over and over again in online retail. By drawing your attention to what not to do, maybe you can break these ecommerce bad habits before one of them breaks you.
1. Haggling Over Returns
The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. Especially when they’re wrong.
To die-hard retailers and salespeople, not haggling seems counterintuitive. In many cases, your business sense is your strongest asset, and it seems stupid not to use it. But even more useful than the dollar and cents you earn by haggling is the customer loyalty you earn by a generous return policy. After all, loyal customers come back with even bigger purchases.
Not haggling is just the beginning — even better is advertising your lenient return policies on your channels. This avoids confusion beforehand and also incentivizes more sales by removing some of your customers’ anxiety.
2. Taking Supplier’s First Offer
We’re not saying suppliers are crooks, but a custom deal is always better than the standard one. Rather than accepting supplier terms blindly, negotiate a little with them for a specialized deal based on your unique needs.
Instead of hard-balling them, use a give-and-take approach. For example, ask them whether they’d cover the freight shipping fee if you upped your order, or see whether they’d go down on price if you signed a long-term exclusive contract. There are plenty of bargaining chips that can make both of you happy — read more about them in our How to Negotiate with Suppliers guide.
3. Too General Targeting
The internet has a predilection for niches. As a means of connecting nigh-infinite people, this “web” gives the power of numbers to groups who normally stand alone. For ecommerce, that means niche brands can sustain a successful business online where they would undoubtedly fail in brick-and-mortar retail due to geographical restraints.
But that also means non-niche brands have an uphill battle. For one thing, they don’t have the benefits of a tight-knit community who passionately promote you on their own social media. For another thing, generalized online retailers are competing against billion-dollar enterprises like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.
Ecommerce businesses benefit from niche marketing and honing in on a specific customer group. If you’re having trouble deciding which niche best fits your business, check out our guide to finding your ecommerce niche, or read our breakdown of the Best Ecommerce Niches for 2020.
4. Managing Multiple Channels by Yourself
Lately, ecommerce trends favor a multichannel strategy — there are so many online marketplaces these days, it’s better for online retailers to go where their customers are. You need a presence on every channel where your target customers shop, whether Amazon, Etsy, or whatever small selling community your niche group has set up.
The trouble is more channels mean more work — too much work to do on your own. Not only that, but the upkeep is brutal: every time you make a sale on one channel you have to update that product’s stock levels on all your other channels. Otherwise, you risk overselling, and that’s not just a missed sale, but a missed customer forever thanks to a bad experience.
Just like you’d hire new staff when opening a new store, the best approach to a multichannel strategy is using automated inventory management software like ours. Ecomdash not only updates your stock levels automatically on all of your sales channels, you can also manage all your sales channels from one central dashboard.
5. Underestimating Need for Product Visuals
The great disadvantage to online shopping is that shoppers can’t interact with the products they want to buy. All they can do is look at them, which means your visuals have to shoulder a lot of weight. That’s why you want to prioritize visuals, to compensate for not being able to physically touch products before buying them.
And among visuals, video is one of the most powerful tools for ecommerce. According to Optinmonster, 84% of online shoppers make a purchasing decision because of a product video. Aside from the artistic and entertainment value of videos, these “moving pictures” also help showcase the product better — viewers can see what it looks like in motion, from multiple angles, and get a sense of how it works, which can prevent returns due to misunderstandings.
If you don’t have the budget or bandwidth for videos, at the very least you should use high-definition photos. You can even get quality pictures for cheaper than you think — just follow our 3 Cheap & Easy Ecommerce Product Photography Hacks.
6. Haphazard Digital Marketing
Most online retailers know enough about digital marketing — social media, blogs, shareable content — to know that it’s necessary. But realizing that is only half the battle; the harder part is learning how to do it well. There are no hard-and-fast rules, and a lot of sellers are just figuring it out as they go.
While a haphazard plan is better than nothing, it’s still quite ineffective. Taking a more calculated and organized approach to online marketing yields much better results. For starters, you want to identify which social media channels your target niche uses so you know where to prioritize your efforts. Then you’ll want to learn the best practices for that particular outlet: which types of posts perform best, what are the optimum times to post, which hashtags generate the best responses, etc.
For more digital marketing advice, read our Ecommerce Social Media Best Practices.
7. Reordering Stock Manually
This is one of the most common ecommerce bad habits because its consequences are so subtle, most people overlook it. But reordering stock has enormous long-lasting implications on your business, from product availability to inventory storage fees.
It seems simple enough — your stock is running low, so you reorder more. The problem is when you realize it’s time to reorder; if you’re doing it manually, all too often that realization comes late.
Just like with multichannel problems, the best solution is to automate the process. Inventory management software like ecomdash alerts you automatically when it’s time to reorder so new stock always arrives on time. These alerts ensure that you never miss a sale from being out of stock — not to mention the helpful analytics that advise you on how much stock to reorder.
Enough about ecommerce vices — what about virtues? Enlisting the help of ecommerce software like ecomdash brings nothing but benefits: organization, time-sensitive scheduling, automated tasks, and central management to name a few. See for yourself — sign up for your free 15-day trial now. No credit card required.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published January 2017 and was updated in June 2020 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.