There are few things in life more satisfying than seeing your vision coming to life. Small ecommerce business owners around the world can attest to this. They are prime examples of people who have turned their ideas into something of value, after all.

While starting your own ecommerce business can be incredibly fulfilling, it’s not all fun and profits. There are some major challenges that are unique to ecommerce. For example, over 30 percent of goods bought online end up being returned. This is due to the fact that you can’t hold or try on items before purchasing them when shopping online. Below are five of the most common hurdles small ecommerce businesses must face in order to be successful.

small ecommerce businesses

Ecommerce Platform Illustration by Jenson Z.

Scaling Up to Meet Demand

It should be considered a good thing if your business is moving a lot of products. This is almost always a sign of a healthy company. Especially in the world of ecommerce, it’s possible for a small operation to reach high volumes in short periods of time. Unlike traditional retail, ecommerce can reach customers in distant locations. There are countless stories of online stores going from no sales to hundreds or more per day due to this inherent reach.

While this is of course a blessing, it can also be a curse. If your e-store is too successful, you might not be able to scale up quickly enough to meet the demand. It’s important to keep in contact with you suppliers, to ensure they will be able to handle an influx of orders. Or you might want to consider using a third party fulfillment service to take care of this for you. Your website will also need to be capable of handling increased volumes in traffic, which segues into the next challenge.

Building an Ecommerce Store

Your website is incredibly important for running a small ecommerce business. As mentioned in the previous point, it’s key that your web host can facilitate sudden increases in traffic. But there are additional challenges to building your ecommerce store. You need to have a store that matches your branding. An obtuse or poorly designed e-store will immediately be a turn off for consumers. You should also look for an ecommerce platform that allows you to integrate with various social media platforms.

Successfully Utilizing Social Media

Social media is one of the most crucial aspects to running an online store. But it’s also something that many people don’t understand. Just because you have a personal social media page doesn’t mean you know how to drive engagement from an ecommerce marketing perspective. And engagement shouldn’t even be your end goal. Your social media needs to drive conversions for it to be a true success.

There are a couple strategies you can use in order to boost your social media presence:

  • Engage with Your Loyal Customers: Don’t just be satisfied when people talk about your products. That’s the perfect time to create a memorable impression on your loyal consumers. Thank them with a personal message—or even repost them to your own social media pages. Small gestures can make a huge impact.
  • Work with Social Media Influencers: These individuals have loyal online fan bases. Because of this, they are able to effectively influence their followers to purchase products. Find social media influencers who coincide with your e-store’s offerings. This is a great way to spread the word about your goods.

Hiring New Employees

It can be hard for small businesses to afford hiring new people. However, this is sometimes the only way to seamlessly grow your ecommerce store when the time comes. Just because you can do many things on your own doesn’t mean you can do it all. Social media, for example, is one area where you might want to hire an expert. Knowing when to relinquish control can be extremely challenging. But it’s a necessary step to building your business the right way.

Navigating Customer Disputes

Reviews mean a lot in the online age. If people are consistently displeased with your ecommerce store, it will deter others from buying from you. It’s important that you do everything in your power to settle disputes with customers. Failing to do this can significantly hurt your sales. Additionally, you want first-time customers to become loyal customers. Ensure everything—from purchase to delivery—is as described.

There’s no surefire recipe for ecommerce success. However, there are a few difficulties that just about every small ecommerce business owner will have to face eventually. Being prepared for these challenges can help you overcome them.


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