5 Common Challenges of Ecommerce and How to Overcome Them

5 Common Challenges of Ecommerce and How to Overcome Them
Jason Chow Jason Chow Jan 25, 2024 —  7 min read

Thinking of starting an online store?

If you are, the time is right. With a plethora of no-code platforms, launching an online store from scratch is relatively easy, and if you already have a brick-and-mortar store, an online presence will help increase your outreach and gain more customers.

Most importantly, due to the pandemic, consumers have massively moved towards digital, and the retail ecommerce market will continue to grow, based on the recent trends.

However, starting an ecommerce business also has its share of challenges. Some of them might not even be directly related to your products or selling tactics.

In this article, we’re going to cover 5 challenges of starting an ecommerce business you should be aware of even before you open your store to the public.

But first, let’s take a quick look at the recent stats.

The future of ecommerce

Global eCommerce revenue is projected to reach over $3,6 trillion in 2024 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.83%. That means by 2028 we can expect the total market value to reach over $5 trillion.

These numbers show how much the market is booming, and the future seems bright. For those still engaged in pure brick-and-mortar, it’s time to consider engaging in the ecommerce space as well.

5 Challenges of ecommerce and how to overcome them

Having a brick-and-mortar shop has its set of advantages. People get to see and try what they’re interested in and then decide to buy on the spot. You can also approach customers, talk to them, and help them make an informed decision. When you own an ecommerce business, things move to a whole new dimension.

1. Data protection & cybersecurity concerns

Just like physical stores are equipped with security tools, your online store should be, too. Cyberattacks can greatly impact your business as they compromise the safety of shopping in your store, and this is one of the biggest nightmares any business owner has.

If you’re wondering, what types of threats we’re talking about, here is a list of the most concerning cyberthreats, on a scale from 1 to 5, as of November 2020.

Cyberattacks are a serious challenge for ecommerce start-ups

Unfortunately, both small and large stores are prone to security threats, and that makes them one of the most critical ecommerce challenges. If you’re just getting started, security is crucial because it only takes one successful hack to negatively impact consumers’ trust and make people flee from your business.

Fortunately, there is a list of measures you can take to minimize security concerns from the get-go.

How to overcome this ecommerce challenge

Once you’ve set up your ecommerce store, you have to ensure that it’s well-equipped with the shield to protect all data, both yours and your customers, including transaction details.

Here are the steps you should take 👇

Host your store with a reliable and reputable web hosting provider that emphasizes security. Some ecommerce start-ups are tempted to share space with other websites on the same server, but it’s risky. If any of these websites get hacked, yours may be affected as well.

Update security plugins, firewalls, anti-virus, anti-malware regularly.

Remember to back up your store’s data. This way, you can always restore your online business in case of any breakdown.

Use the HTTPS connection along with an SSL certificate to protect transactions made in your store (and rank higher on search engines).

Use only credible and trusted third-party payment processing systems that have the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) accreditation.

Use strong passwords and update them regularly.

Continuously monitor and track any suspicious activity.

Make sure your team members receive training on security best practices and awareness.

2. High customer expectations

High customer expectations are another huge challenge for ecommerce brands. What are these expectations exactly? Well, for one, seamless navigation, easy checkout, and favorable shipping terms. That’s not to mention page load speed and mobile experience.

The key reason for such an increase in consumer expectations is rapid market growth.

There is an endless list of new online retailers, so the competition is getting tough. If a store fails to satisfy customer needs, chances are, customers will leave without hesitation. Why? Because there’s no reason to stick around a smaller ecommerce brand if they can find a similar product elsewhere. To make things worse, large retailers like Amazon have made fast and free shipping a de-facto standard that only few smaller brands are capable of meeting.

How to overcome this ecommerce challenge

Scenarios may differ for each store, but here are some general tips to help you get started.

Take time to develop a customer persona and optimize your store with their needs in mind. This includes product collections, welcome offers, payment options, and shipping terms.

When appropriate, use personalization. Your goal is to make customers feel acknowledged and valued when they enter your store for the first time, and especially when they come back.

Ensure your store is mobile-friendly because over half of online users use their phones and tablets for shopping.

Make sure your web hosting provider has strong uptime rates and guarantees high page load speed. If you don’t know how many visitors your website can support, use a load testing tool like JMeter.

Conduct A/B tests to see how you can improve the interface and increase user engagement.

Run website surveys to better understand your customers and make informed decisions. Use pop-up forms to survey both returning buyers and abandoning customers.

3. Shopping cart abandonment

Whether you’re an ecommerce start-up or a well-known retailer, shopping cart abandonment is likely to cause a lot of headaches.

Studies show that online shoppers abandon products in their carts more than half the time.

At some point, you may feel that no matter what you do, there’ll be people dropping off halfway through checkout. This is akin to consumers coming to your physical store, bringing the desired item to checkout, and changing their minds.

Sometimes, cart abandonment has nothing to do with your store, as it’s purely behavioral. Other times, the reasons might be hidden in your shipping policy, the lack of trust, your payment options, and other factors. Your job is to figure out what these factors are and eliminate them.

How to overcome this ecommerce challenge

Shopping cart abandonment is a complex problem, and it requires a set of tactics to be resolved. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Eliminate the guesswork. Specifically, conduct an exit-intent survey to pinpoint the reasons why people abandon their carts. You can do the same for any other step of the funnel including checkout abandonment and product page abandonment.

If you’re feeling hesitant about using exit-intent popups, you can also survey those who spend a certain amount of time on a product page without moving to checkout.

Test your checkout process. One of the common reasons for cart abandonment is complicated and tedious checkout, and if this is the case, consider simplifying it.

Implement a live chat. For those customers who leave because of the size, quality, or delivery speed concerns, having a chance to chat with a salesperson might be sufficient to follow through with a purchase.

Launch a retargeting campaign. If you have social media pixels installed on your website, you can run a retargeting campaign on Facebook and Instagram to remind people about the products they’ve left in their shopping carts.

Create an abandoned cart email campaign. If an abandoning visitor was logged in during their visit, you can reach them in their inboxes by setting up an abandoned cart email campaign. Such emails typically include a reminder about the products left in the cart and an incentive to drive customers back and encourage them to finish checkout.

4. Customers’ fear of purchasing online

Although online shopping has become the new normal, some objections aren’t new. Among the biggest ones is the lack of confidence that the product will meet customers’ expectations due to the inability to see and feel it before buying.

This challenge is especially relevant for new merchants whose online reputation hasn’t been fully established yet. If this is your case, you want to give your customers peace of mind and alleviate their concerns from day one.

How to overcome this ecommerce challenge

The best strategy for alleviating customers’ fears is to provide guarantees. The guarantees most people are looking for are related to money and satisfaction. Here are the steps you can take to provide them 👇

Include high-quality images and videos of a product. Having a detailed product description is important, but without high-quality visuals, it’s not enough. Take a page from Amazon’s book on that and don’t limit yourself to still images. Consider adding videos of the product, including those where it’s being used.

Use social proof. No one wants to be the first person to buy a product. That’s why most people are looking for customer reviews. The best practice is to showcase them right on the product page, however, you can also use your social media pages or other platforms. Don’t know how to ask for customer reviews? Learn from our detailed guide.

Implement a clear return and refund policy. Returns are inevitable for most ecommerce businesses, so you need to prepare a straightforward return policy in advance and make sure it’s easily accessible.

Apart from being a good business practice, it’s also a proven way to alleviate one of the most common customer concerns. Knowing that they can easily return an item if it doesn’t meet their expectations helps customers shop with you more confidently.

5. Proper identity verification

When a customer visits your physical store, you have a chance to deal with them face to face. However, if you own an online store, there’s no easy way to identify a customer and ensure that the information they provide is legitimate.

The lack of a proper identity verification system can be a challenge for any ecommerce start-up, however, it’s especially risky for those providing a cash-on-delivery (COD) option, which is still common in about 30% of European countries. Identity theft isn’t just an ‘unpleasant event,’ but it can easily lead to revenue and reputation losses.

How to overcome this ecommerce challenge

In addition to the safety measures we talked about earlier, it’s crucial that you also implement identity verification in your store. Below are the key steps to do it.

Send an automated verification link to those who have created an account in your store to validate that these customers are genuine. This is usually done via email or SMS.

Consider using a one-time password (OTP) feature to add another layer of security and confirm purchases.

For cash-on-delivery purchases, call the buyer to validate the delivery address before processing it.

Be on the lookout for signs of suspicious activity: unusually high volume of orders or any change in the usual purchasing behavior.

Use captcha plugins to spot fake users.

Wrapping up

Starting an ecommerce business requires courage, determination, and a good understanding of the market. However, even if you’re certain about the products you’re selling and your marketing strategy, there might be other challenges you’ll have to overcome along the way.

With this article, we’ve only scratched the surface and covered challenges related to security and customer expectations. You can learn how to boost sales, drive traffic to your store, and grow an audience of email subscribers from our blog.

Jason is the Outreach Manager at WebHostingSecretRevealed and a self-professed internet marketer.

You're reading Getsitecontrol blog where marketing experts share proven tactics to grow your online business. This article is a part of Ecommerce marketing section.

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