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Top E-Commerce Challenges Facing SMBs

Top E-Commerce Challenges Facing SMBs

As the growth of e-commerce continues retailers are struggling with new technologies and obstacles.

  • Innovative technologies, such as virtual reality as well as IoT (Internet of Things) commerce, have brought new challenges and issues for online-based businesses.
  • The margins for conversions to e-commerce are very low thus bringing the right visitors to your site is essential.
  • The explosion of e-commerce implies that competition is intense and the process of fulfilling orders can be overwhelming and your return policy is crucial.
  • The article addressed online business owners who face and overcome typical e-commerce issues.– The industry of e-commerce has seen exponential growth in recent years, with the sales from e-commerce projected to be $1.065 trillion in 2023. As an online business proprietor, you face distinct challenges in comparison to brick and mortar shop owners. Online businesses have distinct regulations and rules to adhere to as well as cybersecurity being an absolute priority to ensure that the data that is stored online is secure.

We spoke to industry experts on the issues small-scale businesses in e-commerce must deal with and the best ways to overcome these obstacles. Here are the top 12 common challenges that business owners of e-commerce confront today.

What are the most pressing online-commerce-related challenges facing SMBs?

Every aspect of online commerce businesses have challenges and obstacles. Here’s a look into some of the biggest issues and suggestions on how you can do to address these issues.

1. Cybersecurity

Victor Congionti, chief information officer and co-founder of Proven Data, knows that small-scale e-commerce websites require the right cybersecurity practices and tools implemented.

“Small companies that pay efforts on the online marketplace require policies and procedures to develop a secure security plan for their organization,” Congionti said. “In the event of a cyberattack small-sized business can’t afford to lose time in its operations or sales as every transaction is an opportunity for economic success for the business that relies on.”

Because small-scale businesses depend on its income, Congionti says entrepreneurs need a cybersecurity plan to keep their data secure and safe while ensuring that workers feel more empowered and able to adopt policies and technology to fight cyberattacks. Solutions like stricter security controls for access and software to protect data can strengthen defenses against security weaknesses and increase a small-sized business’s cybersecurity risk.

The business must have an incident response strategy that specifies what they should do in the case of cyberattacks, said Congionti.

“In the event of a ransomware attack the business may not be able access data and files required for serving customers like the inventory report,” he said. “Having a plan for responding will help businesses reduce the time it takes to shut down operations and provide service to customers through other methods like sales over the phone.”

2. Competition

The competition can take many forms for small-sized businesses, particularly in the realm of e-commerce. It is essential to stay on top with the latest pricing trends and products and services, all of which are competing with your potential customers..

“As an entrepreneur in a small scale, you are able to beat price competition by offering an extremely clear promise that consumers cannot find anywhere else,” said Calloway Cook the creator of Illuminate Labs.

The market for e-commerce has grown so crowded that standing out from the other companies in the e-commerce market is difficult, because of no reason of your own.

“Distinguishing yourself from the competition is vital to standing apart and getting new prospects to your company,” said Harsha Reddy cofounder and CEO of Small Biz Genius. “This can be achieved by ensuring your site looks professional and has been optimized to be compatible with today’s Google algorithm. Additionally, by offering the best item or service you will be able to target a narrower audience which will allow you to boost your domain’s credibility.”

3. Order fulfillment

There is no need to put everything on the shoulders of small-business owners. It is possible that you will be overwhelmed with many more orders than you’re ready to handle by yourself. In this scenario outsourcing order fulfillment and the shipping process for e-commerce will reduce the burden and improve the user experience.

“Order fulfillment must be outsourced to a third party fulfillment service whenever possible to ensure more efficacy,” Cook said.

4. Customer experience

In the case of a predominantly e-commerce-based business or a company that is involved in some selling on the internet it is possible that you will have a difficult time trying to provide your customers with the same level of service they’d get from brick-and-mortar stores.

“One of the most neglected areas of customer experience that is often overlooked when transitioning to online shopping is pricing and segmentation” stated George Dunham the chief executive officer of epaCUBE. “Customer experience is crucial when launching an online-based initiative since customers want to be treated the same or better online than they would be when they’re in person.”

Dunham stated that businesses are struggling to meet the demands of modern customers as it requires precise management of analytics, pricing, in addition to segments of customers. The most successful experiences for customers shopping online need the similar, if certainly not greater quality of pricing, product options, loyalty programs and so on, as is needed in a face-to-face purchasing.

“In an age where everything is happening online your customers are expecting more and also have more information about your goods price, competition and prices,” Dunham said. “They are expecting to be treated in the same in the same way offline as online which is why if they find a certain price in person but are unable to obtain the same cost online, they are dissatisfied and shop elsewhere.”

5. High-quality website traffic and visitor conversion

The process of designing, creating and managing an online shop is not easy however, generating high-quality sales is more difficult according the Lisa Chu, owner of Black N Bianco.

“To transform your visitors into customers you can convert it is essential to have an online presence that is contemporary clean, user-friendly and safe and virus-free,” Chu said. “Every sector is unique and therefore understanding your target market is essential to design an effective website that is resonant with your target audience.”

Making an efficient business site is only the beginning however. Making sure that your content is optimized on your site via SEO will be the following and possibly the most crucial – step.

Phillip McCluskey, commercial director of One Erth, said that the average conversion rate worldwide is lower than 3 percent, which makes the ability to drive targeted traffic to your website an issue.

“Extensive short-tail keyword analysis should be conducted to ensure that you are optimizing your website for search terms that are relevant,” he said. “It is probable that the keywords that are being compared as they are just getting started will not result in immediate traffic to their websites. Therefore long-tail keyword research needs to be conducted to determine the pertinent ‘what “how,’ ” “who” and ‘where’ in your field of expertise.”

Shirley Tan, developer partnership manager at Yahoo Small Business, said numerous businesses took the “if I set up my own online store, my customers will find it” strategy. “Today this is not the case anymore. In the past, when there were fewer online stores, they might have relied on the effect of a stumble-upon, however, the web is too busy and loud. So, engaging customers and gaining their attention has become more important and powerful.”

To be able to stand out from the noise of the online market, Tan said e-commerce SMBs should know whom they’re seeking to reach to develop an customers base that will become their primary source of revenue and loyal customers.

6. Visibility

How do you attract the right traffic to your site and convert visitors into customers who can’t access your website? It’s an important problem for online businesses and can make or break a company.

“If your company isn’t able to appear in the top results of search engines such as Google’s with relevant keywords, it’s unlikely that customers will locate their way to them.” explained Michael Anderson the SEO and marketing specialist with GeoJango Maps. “The most effective way to get around this problem is investing into SEO. Online retailers must do keyword analysis, apply the on-page SEO top practices and then work to build links that are highly authoritative for their site.”

Anderson said that if the above are done properly it will result in more search engine visibility and better the lead generation.

“For clothing companies Influencer marketing can work very well, however if your eCommerce business is founded on the creation of a product that solves an issue and your site is able to be ranked on Google for relevant keywords to the issue through SEO might be the best option,” said Nicholas Rubright the digital marketing specialist for market research company for online retailers Zik Analytics. “Understanding your customer base is the key in determining which channel of marketing will bring visitors that ultimately translate into sales.”

7. Policies on refunds and returns

A well-thought-out return and refund policy could mean the key to success or failure. This may sound extreme but it’s actually true.

“If you wish for the business to be able to stand out the customer’s satisfaction should be your top goal, and what you’re offering should be identical to the products being advertised.” explained Syed Ali Hasan the digital marketing manager of Film Jackets.

In a perfect world, the buyer would not have a problem about the product that you’re selling, however that’s not always the scenario. Sometimes, buyers experience buyers’ remorse or was not what they expected they would get.

“Be transparent and develop an easy, quick and simple return policy,” Hasan said. “Make it simple to comprehend and not overly strict to ensure that the customer doesn’t need to deal with difficulties to return an itemor item.”

Rubright stated that when you don’t have a solid return and refund policy people are less likely believe you’re selling something that’s worth the price. “When the website states that it doesn’t allow refunds or returns customers are more likely to believe that it’s a risky purchase, or even an e-commerce scam, as online businesses are less recognized.”

8. The right market to choose from

“The first step for every business is to determine market fit for its product, and e-commerce is no exception,” Rubright said. “Product-market fit refers to the extent that a product meets the needs of consumers. The most efficient way to determine the right fit is to create an item that addresses the issue you face.”

But, finding the best target market to sell your products isn’t an most straightforward job. Rubright gave some suggestions about how to simplify it.

“If you’re still not able to identify the ideal customer for you in the moment, I suggest making some assumptions about the market you want to target and then running Facebook ads for this group. If you do manage to achieve a sale, you should make sure you know everything you can about those who bought your product, and then find the most of them regardless of how. When you have the product-market fit identified, then you’ll be able to figure out the most efficient method of reaching the ideal buyers.”

9. Growing sales and making sales

After you have decided on your product, get your website created and you have your small-business marketing plan put in place, your next thing to do is to generate sales. The process of creating an effective sales strategy in order to sell your product and services may seem like an easy task, but it’s not always easy.

“To increase sales online, small-scale businesses must be able to offer the correct item at the appropriate cost and ensure that they are in thought when customers are willing to purchase,” Tan said. “This isn’t easy to obtain; in order to increase sales, it is essential that the brand is able to be a trusted name for the customers they serve.”

Apart from remembering you whenever they require something, and being satisfied with your product your website is a major factor in the amount of sales you achieve.

Tan suggested that you ask yourself these questions to evaluate the efficiency of your site’s website:

  • Is the layout of the site user-friendly?
  • Does the process of checkout seem easy and simple?
  • Do you have coupons which can be used to customers who spend an amount of money to avail discounts?

“Website features like these could significantly increase conversion rates and enhance the user experience by making it more pleasurable,” Tan said.

10. Electronic commerce that is borderless

With the growth of online shopping sites that are accessible worldwide shopping has become a global. Customers can purchase products from businesses outside of their country of residence. Therefore, online companies have to be able to serve customers of any background.

Achieving a wide range of customers involves providing information in multiple languages. According to the CSA Research 76% of customers who shop online prefer buying products that have information in their native language. 92% of them would prefer shopping using their currency of choice and 33% may leave the shopping cart if the pricing is solely expressed in U.S. dollars.

To increase your chances of a successful eCommerce business, make sure you use thoughtfulness and consideration when you are incorporating various languages and different culture.

11. Augmented reality

The AR (AR) marketplace is predicted to grow to $198 billion in 2025. AR lets e-commerce companies let customers see what their product will look like in their environment. For example, if a person buying a couch to put in their living room, AR can help them imagine the sofa in the exact room.

This tool can help buyers make the decision to make a purchase because they can be more confident that the item will look great at home.

If you think that the AR model is compatible with your product, maybe you should integrate this model in your e-commerce store.

12. IoT commerce

Internet of Things (IoT) commerce has been an increasingly popular method for consumers to purchase digital goods and services using IoT devices like cars, smart speakers appliances, and other devices. In the present API economy businesses can speed up delivery of products through new channels. To adapt to this new method of buying, e-commerce companies should focus on their PIM so that they can be ready with API requests and sell through new channels.

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