March 7, 2021

Ecommerce and the Snake Oil Merchants

Dr Peter Mowforth

While the barrier to entry in ecommerce is getting lower, the barrier to successful ecommerce is getting ever harder. Why so?A few years back, most businesses made little or no use of ecommerce. As the statistics for online trade have mushroomed, so have the numbers of web pages clamouring for our attention on Google - all eager to sell you something. To meet demand, increasing numbers of suppliers have entered the market for ecommerce web design. This has been coupled with there being more and more suppliers of low-cost systems to get customers quickly trading; you don’t need to look far to find suppliers of of websites that cost virtually nothing and ‘will get you trading in minutes’. The result of this massive supply-side proliferation of templated design has lead to the inevitable result that the vast majority of websites get few sales and certainly fall well-short of hoped-for expectations.The starting point for many is “I want an ecommerce website”. Starting by asking this question is where the problem lies. What clients should say is “I want a successful ecommerce business”. If you start with the second question you address issues such as:

  1. Offering things for sale that the (your) market wants to buy.
  2. Having products that on a like-for-like basis are competitively priced.
  3. Having those products prominently advertised and visible in all the places where your customers might be looking.
  4. Using a trusted website that looks professional and appropriate for the market and is fast and easy to use.
  5. Having everything backed up by top class delivery and quality of service throughout.

Every one of these items impacts the website and how it works. Only when everything works as a complete and joined-up business system will the sales start to flow. While low-cost template web sites may superficially look OK, they miss out on many of small details that differentiate between the few sites that get almost all the sales and the massive number of ‘me too’ sites that sell virtually nothing. This qualitative observation is backed up by the UK Office of National Statistics that, in their most report on ecommerce say “The UK’s largest businesses (1,000 or more employees) continued to dominate e-commerce sales”.So where does all this leave those startup and SME businesses wanting to get aboard the ecommerce train? The answer is that you need to think about so much more than just the ecommerce website. Don’t expect the successful journey to be quick, cheap or simple. Only deal with suppliers with a strong track record is delivering successful ecommerce businesses. Above all else, avoid those who tell you it’s cheap and you can get trading profitably in minutes with your own ecommerce website. Why so? - because it’s simply not true.

Latest Posts from the Ecommerce Excellence blog

Want to be informed of upcoming webinars & events?