eCommerce Startup Mistakes: 3 Fallacies to Avoid

Back in 2012, I started my first online retail business that I was forced to shut down in a few years. The reason was that I was sure that my expertise is more than sufficient to write on of those successful eCommerce startup stories in the new scope for me.

5 min read, Sep 17
ecommerce-startup-mistakes

Having in mind 2018 statistics from NSBA that 82 percent of successful business owners don’t question their qualifications and the correspondence of their previous experience for the company running I realized that actually, I was far from that state of mind.

I had a typical eCommerce startup checklist prepared and thought I was ready. But such a misunderstanding had led to the strong hit of my ambitions and self-confidence — a complete failure.. as I thought.

But in fact, I got a consolation prize — a valuable lesson. Everyone wants to win but before it`s OK to lose. Luckily, it’s not obligatory a price for success.

I killed my startup in eCommerce many years ago and now I want to share my experience so you can avoid that challenge. Here the top three mistakes I discovered in my approach to that business and noticed that I’m not alone in making them.

Mistake 1. You know your target audience in advance

Me and my partner were sure who would be our exact customers and what their preferences were. They would buy (no doubt) pairs from the chosen line of shoes since they would definitely find the boots or whatever they needed color, form, size or price-wise.

However, our assumptions (!) were wrong and we spent a lot of money down the drain the significant amount of which demanded eCommerce website startup costs. Even the research wouldn’t have been enough since you might get the precise enough information only with a slow and consistent entrance to the market.

Target Audience

Testing of the live product for startup eCommerce companies is a vital necessity as well as gathering detailed statistics for at least a couple of months after launch. Strategic planning is a required stage but it’s not complete without results of this investigation. The rush here can be as harmful as the delay.

It’s better to spend some time on A/B testing and data collecting to prepare the more steady ground for your first steps on the market. Having a more clear vision of the needs of the scope and your customers you’ll avoid the initial and most dangerous pitfall — the lack of demand or its complete absence.

Mistake 2. You know what features you need on your website

Since we choose the B2C business model we planned and did focus on the distribution of our custom-made shoes via the online store. Even then there were a lot of options to provide unique web experience for your customers and we decided to take full advantage of it.

I contributed a lot of time and funds (luckily or not our eCommerce startup funding was enough) to create a super design with dark and light modes, dynamic UI/UX, creative dashboards, integrate diverse APIs and all available payment systems and many other aspects required for building a marketplace.

Website Features

What I should’ve done is to ask myself: do we really need all of this? As it turned out we didn’t. And the worst part is that sure, you can alter your website but you can’t bring back expenses that exhausted your eCommerce startup budget. In my situation core changes ASAP were necessary so we ended up paying twice for our entrance ticket.

The thing is that with your website you should take the same approach as with your actual product — start with the deep research involving your development contractor in it (Discovery phase) and real-life testing by launching at first its light, less expensive version — MVP.

Mistake 3. You do everything yourself

Figma. Sketch - UI/UX..?! Kanban. Scrum. Tech stack?? AWS. Facebook Ads. SEO. And it’s not even a full list that you could have to cover and that’s only aspects concerning the сustom development of your online store! But I though my expertise was enough to handle everything on the appropriate level.

But turned out you had to be a robot to do all of that. I spent my efforts on drawing professional user interface, SMM, photography, accounting, and other tasks more and more filling a 24-hour cup of my day. It was close to the spill when I realized that all of these were just attempts and moreover failed.

DIY

Being more afraid of sharing responsibilities than believing in myself I avoided a more time- and cost-efficient path: take that obvious eCommerce startup advice and involve the experts from the required scopes. Having quite extended network it wouldn’t be that difficult. But I chose to fight alone — you know the result.

They say it doesn’t matter how many times you fall it counts how many times you stand up. I’ve done that exercise a few times and I can say it’s not always necessary to learn the business or life lessons that way. Learning from the experience of other athletes like me can be no less efficient.

Now I’m managing a stable player on the market - a provider of eCommerce solutions - and spreading the concept of the consistent approach to the product development in our scope. If it weren’t for that failure I wouldn’t be here now.

So don’t be afraid of making mistakes, better avoid expecting success with your eCommerce startup 2019, 2020 and so on — work for it and you’ll get it.

Serhii Uspenskiy, Managing Partner @Springs

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