The internet is an amazing space for collaboration, online selling and social interaction. It is by far the largest collective avenue for consumer and small business shopping. Online stores allow you to browse practically any type of product you can imagine in an incredibly competitive marketplace. The growth of internet sales will only continue to rise as brick and mortar stores begin shifting to the web to stay competitive.
There are many tools and platforms that make setting up shop easier than ever, so why aren’t more businesses flourishing? A lot of this boils down to several myths that surround e-commerce that might be deceiving to new online store owners.
To help you see through the myth, we compiled a short list of 10 common misconceptions about online selling that we thought we’d share with you. Do any of these resonate with you?
Myth #1 – Selling online carries little to no overhead
Unfortunately, this isn’t true. While it is possible to find a cheap e-commerce provider that may suit your needs, that’s just a fraction of the cost involved in running a store. Consider supply chain management, logistics, development, legal expenses, marketing, etc... The typical expenses that apply to brick and mortar operations are still very applicable in the world of online commerce. Additionally, unless you’re running a JIT “Just in Time” operation, you’ll likely still have inventory to manage.
Myth #2 – It takes little effort to appear in search
Possibly the most misunderstood practice on the internet is how difficult it can be to have your site appear in search. It is seldom easy and the web is clogged with millions of other business operators, like you, that want to show up on the first page of Google. It takes dedicated research, significant effort and most importantly, time, before your site begins to rank in importance. Unless you have a lot of time on your hand or are an SEO savant, we recommend you seek the assistance of a professional in this space.
Myth #3 – You limit your liability by selling online
While it’s true you won’t have people slipping and falling chasing ambulances, there is still inherent risks you should be aware of. If you’re storing personal information that is ever compromised, you’ll be staring at a larger loss than if someone bashed their head on your floor. Make sure you talk to an insurance broker about a cyber policy that is designed to cover your type of business. While hopefully never necessary, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Myth #4 – Taxes are much easier on the web
This topic is one of the largest rabbit holes on the web today. I’ve heard many new comers to internet selling assume that tax doesn’t apply to them, which isn’t only partially true in some scenarios. Each state handles tax in a much different scenario. Our advice: consult with a tax professional before making a mistake that can cost you later.
Myth #5 – I need to be the cheapest source on the internet
The web is undoubtedly a great place to price shop and get the best deal, but consider your product. If you have a unique item or value that sets you apart, do not discount yourself into oblivion. You need to ensure you’re making proper margins on the product you sell. Competing with well-established operations can be tough, but it’s not always a good idea to undercut your competition.
Myth #6 – I don’t need my website to be mobile friendly
It’s 2017, almost 2018. If you’re not mobile friendly, you’re missing a ton of opportunity. Google now favors sites that are mobile / responsive over sites that only scale for a standard desktop computer. Additionally, mobile device browsing now far surpasses desktop browsing, a trend that will not halt any time soon.
Myth #7 – I should focus on selling globally on day one
One of the greatest benefits to online commerce is the fact you can increase your exposure to customers in almost any neck of the woods. Too often, business owners try to target everyone, vs. starting small and working outward. Local SEO is a much more attainable goal than trying to immediately reach out across the globe. Purchasing keywords for AdWords in your area will be far cheaper as well with a more focused, limited audience.
Myth #8 – I should build my website from scratch
Building from scratch does guarantee that your website will be completely catered to your heart’s desire. The downside? Are you prepared to write an e-commerce back end that can handle taxes, shipping and logistics, fulfilment and credit card processing? What about content management? Many business owners find using platforms like Magento or Liftoff E-Commerce a much easier proposition than hiring a developer. Placing your website on a platform also “future proofs” your store. When you need to change your design or business rules, these platforms are typically ready for the challenge.
Myth #9 – I need to host my own site
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hosting your own site, provided you have skills to do so, the knowledge to mitigate security risks and a satisfactory fail-safe plan for redundancy and data backup and recovery. It can, in some cases, take a small army to accomplish this. An easier and more cost-effective approach would be to host your site with a solid provider that can take the burden of infrastructure off your hands. Google, Amazon and Microsoft provide GREAT platforms for true cloud computing, which can truly future-proof your website and allow for sustainable growth, should you need it.
Myth #10 – I need to be an IT genius to have a website
This is probably one of the largest roadblocks to getting many businesses online. The myth that it’s too difficult looms over many people who aren’t sure how to get started or how to maintain an online business. For those, there are many great platforms such as Liftoff E-commerce, Shopify, and others. They make building websites easy, without requiring much technical prowess.
We hope that these notes help to “demystify” your impression of running an online business. They’re not meant to scare you, but rather prepare you for what lies ahead. When in doubt, always consult with an e-commerce professional or someone who’s navigated these waters before. “Been there, done that” stories can help you avoid mistakes yourself.