As a first-time store owner, there are several common mistakes that you may make throughout the process. However, a little research and proper planning can ensure you’ll be equipped with the tools and knowledge needed to prevent these missteps from occurring.
In this article, you’ll gain insight on some of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when setting up a Shopify store, and what you can do to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Failing to create a business plan
As the old saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail’.
This is true when it comes to launching a new initiative, like an online store. Yet, many entrepreneurs, like yourself, make the mistake of diving in headfirst without a solid plan.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new idea, but creating a business plan ahead of time can prevent headaches down the road and keep you focused on your goals.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a document that outlines the strategy and goals for your online store. Its purpose is to provide a roadmap for your business, with a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve and how you will get there.
What should I include in a business plan?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to business plans. However, most will include some variation of the following:
Executive Summary – Your executive summary should be around 1-2 pages in length and summarize the main objectives of your ecommerce business plan.
Business Overview – This section contains a detailed description of your business, including its mission, vision, and values.
Market Analysis – When doing market analysis, you should identify your target market, competitors, and industry trends to better understand your customers. Take it a step further by creating a buyer persona for your ideal customer.
Marketing and Sales Strategies – This section provides an overview of your sales and marketing tactics and may include advertising, branding, SEO, social media, partnerships, and other marketing strategies.
Products and Services – A detailed description of your products and/or services, including pricing strategies and inventory management should be included in your business plan.
Financial Projections – This section paints a detailed view of your business’s finances, including revenue, expenses, profits and losses, cash flow projections, and break-even analysis.
A business plan can make a huge difference in the growth of your company. Case in point: Research suggests that companies that create a plan in advance experience a 30% faster growth rate than those that don't.
Without a clear direction and strategy, you risk losing focus and wasting precious time and resources. Therefore, having a well-crafted business plan is essential.
Mistake #2: Not using the right business address
Another common mistake when setting up a Shopify store is not using the right business address.
When opening your Shopify store, you will be asked to provide a business address to be used for merchant and payment accounts, as well as customer returns.
Therefore, you want to choose an address that not only protects your privacy, but lends credibility to the brand and business you’ve worked so hard to build.
What are my business address options for my Shopify store?
Most people use one of three types of business addresses when selling on Shopify:
Home Address – As a new business owner who is just starting out, you may be planning to use your home address to sign up. Mayday, mayday! Danger lies ahead. Using your home address not only makes it available to the public (which means anyone who visits your website will know where you live), but it looks unprofessional to prospective customers.
PO Box – While a PO box offers more privacy than a home address, it lacks credibility and comes with size restrictions and other limitations. Planning to mail out products via UPS or FedEx? You’ll need to opt for a different type of address, since a PO box only allows you to ship using USPS.
Virtual Mailbox – Virtual mailboxes typically come with a commercial business address that can be used for your Shopify store. This is going to be your safest option, as it creates an invisible privacy barrier between you and your customers.
Choosing the right address for your Shopify store is vital for establishing a professional online presence and ensuring your privacy is protected.
Tip: Looking for a professional business address that’ll help you build trust while concealing your home address? Consider a VPM virtual mailbox!
Mistake #3: Not providing enough payment methods
Customers want convenience and flexibility when they shop online, and providing a limited number of payment methods can make them hesitate to complete a purchase.
When setting up your Shopify store, you want to make sure you offer several payment options for your customers to choose from.
Payment gateways might include:
Shopify payments – This is Shopify’s in-house service, which enables customers to save their shipping and payment information to help them check out faster.
Third-party providers like PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Stripe – This allows customers to pay for purchases online without using a credit card, which can offer an added layer of convenience for customers who are shopping while on the go.
Imagine the following scenario: Joe, a potential customer, stumbles upon your Shopify store and finds a beautiful gemstone necklace, the perfect anniversary gift for his wife. He goes to check out, but notices that you only take Shopify payments. He decides that it is too much effort, and moves on to another retailer.
Don’t let money slip through your hands. By providing your customer with more payment options, you can improve customer satisfaction, reduce cart abandonment rates, and increase sales for your Shopify store.
Mistake #4: Going overboard with Shopify apps
Adding essential apps that will enhance the customer experience is an excellent idea. Enabling an excessive amount to the point that your website is bogged down and your customers are irritated? Not so much.
Too many apps can have negative consequences, including slowing down your website’s loading speed. Not to mention, you’ll have to continuously update your apps or risk your storefront going down.
Additionally, many apps come with monthly subscription fees. If you’re in the beginning stages of starting a business, you probably want to cut costs when you can.
And finally, some apps can just be downright overwhelming. It’s noble that you want to help your customers receive a discount on their first purchase, but when your entire inventory is covered by the dreaded color wheel (and the tiny exit ‘X’ is nowhere to be found), it can actually drive potential customers away. Very few customers want to be bombarded with pop-ups or wait longer than 3 seconds of clicking on a website.
Mistake #5: Not optimizing your website for mobile
Did you know that 58% of all online visits in 2022 came from smartphones?
In today’s digital age, it's important that your Shopify store is optimized for mobile. Failing to do so can impact your growth potential, causing you to miss out on customers and revenue.
Imagine finding the perfect ring for your best friend's birthday gift at a new online store, just to discover that when you try to click the ‘Add to cart’ button, it changes the size of the product you wanted. After a couple of attempts to get the size you wanted, you give up altogether.
To combat this issue, you can select one of Shopify’s mobile-responsive templates to make sure your website looks great and functions smoothly on any device.
Mistake #6: Not setting up a primary domain
It may not seem like a big deal to you at this stage, but you should always set up a primary domain for your ecommerce store if your budget allows for it.
What is a primary domain?
Instead of using the default myshopify.com URL you are given at sign-up, you can create a custom Shopify domain. So, your new primary domain for your jewelry store might look something like http://www.blingbazaar.com.
This step is essential for two major reasons:
It helps you build a professional and credible online presence for your brand – Having a consistent domain name across all marketing channels can strengthen your brand identity and promote trust among both current and prospective customers.
It allows you to have full control over your website's SEO – A primary domain can positively impact your search engine rankings and online visibility.
Investing in a primary domain for your ecommerce store is a crucial step towards establishing a strong online presence and driving business growth. It also makes it easier for customers to spread the word about your business via word-of-mouth.
Mistake #7: Selling too many products
Your store focuses on selling jewelry, but you’re considering adding home decor to the mix. While expanding to sell a wide range of products may seem like a good way to increase sales and appeal to a broader customer base, this can hurt your business.
It’s best to focus on your niche, especially in the beginning stages. Maintaining a large inventory can be costly, both in terms of time and money, with additional expenses required for storage, shipping, and handling.
Plus, too many products can overwhelm your customers and make it difficult for them to find what they're looking for.
Picture this: A potential customer has just landed on your website after clicking on an ad for a 14k gold necklace. They arrive on your front page, but are quickly dissuaded from making a purchase because they are bombarded with dozens of products that are unrelated to jewelry.
That’s another lost sale that could have been easily avoided.
Tip: Instead of focusing on quantity, you should concentrate on providing a carefully curated selection (think 10-15 items) of high-quality products that align with your brand.
Mistake #8: Using low-quality images
When written well, product descriptions can, and often do, paint a vivid picture of what you’re selling. However, online shopping does not allow customers to see or feel anything tangible, so your images play a pivotal role in selling your products.
Presenting low-quality images to your customers can make your brand appear unprofessional, leading customers to question the quality (and validity) of your products and your business.
Investing in high-quality images for your Shopify store is vital for building customer trust, and increasing sales.
Tip: If your photography skills aren’t up to par, you might want to consider using stock images, taking an iPhone photography course, or hiring a professional photographer.
Mistake #9: Not crafting a compelling ‘About Us’ page
Don’t be afraid to tell your story.
According to a study by PwC, 64% of U.S. consumers and 59% of consumers globally believe that companies have disconnected from the human aspect of customer experience.
Customers don’t just want to know about your products, they want to hear about you and how your brand came to fruition.
In a sea full of competitors, a well-written ‘About Us’ page can help discern your business from others by adding vulnerability to your brand while increasing customer trust.
The result? A more meaningful experience for everyone involved.
Mistake #10: Having poor customer service
Providing a high standard of customer service can be a major differentiator for your business.
Because there are so many choices when it comes to products available online, customers have higher expectations than ever before. If they encounter an issue while online shopping, they expect quick and effective resolutions.
For example, one of your customers ordered a pair of studded earrings. Upon taking them out of their package, a diamond fell out of its place. They’ve been trying to contact you for days, yet they’ve received nothing but radio silence on your end.
Frustrated with your lack of attention, they take to Google to share their experience. As unfortunate as it may be, all it takes is one negative review to damage your reputation.
Therefore, it's essential to prioritize customer service and invest in the resources necessary to ensure that your customers have a positive experience, whether that be adding an extra team member or enabling a live chat plugin.
Mistake #11: Not hiring outside help
You may think you don’t need help at this stage. You’ve made it this far by yourself, and no one knows your business better than you.
But, these are the types of harmful thoughts that can hurt your business.
Managing an online store is a time-consuming task, and as an entrepreneur, you only have so many hours in the day to focus on growing and maintaining your business.
Outsourcing tasks to experts can help you improve the overall performance of your store, increase your revenue, and focus on other high-priority tasks, like advertising and manufacturing.
Where can I find outside help for my business?
One option to consider is VPM's TruAssist Plan. With TruAssist, you’ll be able to offload tedious tasks to a team of professionals. By outsourcing your day-to-day tasks, you can save time and money while also benefiting from the expertise of a dedicated team.
In conclusion, setting up a Shopify store can be an exciting and rewarding experience. But as with any new project, there are bound to be some hiccups along the way.
By learning from the mistakes of others, you can avoid these common mistakes and set yourself up for success. Whether it's choosing a mobile-friendly theme, creating a business plan, or providing top-notch customer service, every decision you make can have an impact on your store's livelihood.
With careful planning and the right strategy, you can achieve your goals and build a thriving e-commerce business with Shopify in no time.