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E-Commerce: The 7 Mistakes I Made

Mar 4, 2008
Yes I can admit when I am wrong and make boneheaded mistakes, and I made plenty of them. I am writing this as a reference for anyone else that is considering diving into the wonderful world of eCommerce, feel free to learn from my mistakes.

Not Testing the REAL Market

Well I did, but how I went about it was all wrong. I simply took surveys on price and interest in each product. I received nothing but excellent feedback only to sell two products in the first 4 months. Alaskan Salmon sounds good in theory but gaining the consumers trust is a completely different step. If I were to start all over I would put my products on EBay just to gauge the response to the product, this would allow me to plan for any unforeseen issues and adjust my service accordingly.

Extremely High Overhead

And the sad thing is I started this business with low overhead in mind. There are CMS (Content Management Systems) out there that will do all of the dirty work for you. For some bonehead reason I felt my site needed a custom system from scratch which ended up costing me around $12,000. Now I am implementing a more functional and user friendly system that is FREE! Yes FREE! My cost has only been $800 to implement and the addition of this blog on my site is a part of that. Needless to say I feel like a big, BIG dummy.

Check References!

Another mistake I overlooked, I found my first two web designers on car forums that I frequent. That would be the equivalent of looking for a home builder at a car dealership. Between these two alone I lost $5,750 and ended up with nothing. A portfolio does not tell the full story, talk to the people that have hired the company you are considering, and ask tons of questions. Use an intermediary like eLance (www.elance.com) and it does not hurt to use your credit card, if you get messed over by a vendor and dispute with the credit card company they will investigate and most likely get your money back.

Offline Marketing for an Online Business

There is a local publication here in Douglas County Georgia that caters to the community. I read that offline marketing generally does not convert to online sales but I am the type that has to touch the iron to know its really hot. (I actually did that as a youngster) The publication hits 30,000 homes in the area and I just knew at least 10% of those would visit my site. I ended up with 10 visitors and no sales, just another one of those hard lessons.

Content is King!

For an eCommerce site content is tough, other than product descriptions and store policies there is not a great deal to say. This is why a business blog is so valuable, search engines love content and what better way to present it? It also allows better communication between the business and customer. I finally understand this and that is why I have added this blog.

Patience

I still struggle with this one but I have learned that while we would like to have an overnight success it does not always happen that way. Some eCommerce sites take off immediately, others it may take years but I have learned that you work just as hard today as you did yesterday.

Discounting the Importance of Search Engine Optimization

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) goes so much further than just URL's. Build links, minimize flash, there are a ton of tips but that is a totally different blog.

1 Extra Tip

Be flexible, and I'm sure this holds true with any business out there. You can plan every aspect of the business but over time things will change and you have to embrace that. I had no intentions on carrying Cheesecakes or Gift Baskets but saw an opportunity to give my customers options have not regretted that decision since then.
About the Author
Robert Abrom is the CEO of Abrom Research Inc., find more resources for your journey to entrepreneurship at http://abromresearch.com
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