It is estimated that more than 20% of retail purchases in 2023, will take place in the online realm. This comes as no surprise. From groceries to a glow-in-the-dark toilet roll, you can truly buy anything online.
It’s also no surprise that most people have started their own “side hustle” recently. With the high inflation rates and general unhappiness with the traditional 9-to-5, most people seek flexible hours and financial stability in the e-commerce world. That is totally understandable. Who would want to sit in an office all day when the option is there to gain a passive income?
However, as the saying goes: if it sounds too good to be true, it most probably is. According to a collaborated research project that was done by the Huffington Post, Forbes, and Marketing Signals, it was concluded that 90% of online-only businesses close within the first 120 days of launch. So, what dragons are causing the end of all these online stores?
- It’s hard
As someone who has attempted to launch multiple online stores, I can testify: e-commerce is tough. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you can build a launch-ready online store in a day. The problem is, Rome still exists today, and 90% of e-commerce stores do not. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide that this whole e-commerce thing sounds good, and then start a shop and expect millions to come flooding into your bank account. It doesn’t work that way.
One of the reasons why most people think online is easy is because it’s so cheap. You can start an online store easily with R800, but just because it’s so cheap to start, doesn’t mean it’s simple to do. In all honesty, it may even be harder.
If you decide to venture into the realm of e-commerce, you will need to learn a few things. Like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), content creation and writing product descriptions (the last mentioned is the most fearsome dragon of all). So, the online world first needs to be studied, and thus time is needed to get up to speed on how to do things the right way. You will need to be patient in training the dragons.
- You need social media
I have lived under a rock most of my life, so it was a great shock for me to find out that you need social media if you want a successful online business. People don’t want someone who is just selling a product. They want a connection. They want personal. They want to see what goes on behind the scenes and how you do your life.
One of the reasons why 90% fail is because they don’t have an effective social media strategy. Think of social media as you would a wild horse. Without it, you’ll be slowed down and the stormy cloud of failure will catch up to you quite quickly while you’re on the road. But tame that horse, and you can get to safety and weather the storm (tip: you will be in a storm sooner or later, no matter what you do. The key is how you handle the storm and how you have prepared for it).
The ruler of a land cannot go off gallivanting to new countries and leave their castle unprotected. Well, you can’t either. What is your castle? Family, friends, and faith. The other lands you seek to conquer are business success, wealth, and whatever else you want, but if your relationships, or faith, are in danger, leave – or at least maintain on a minor level – your other endeavors. You will not want to grow old alone, surrounded by a kingdom of sand. It’s not worth it.
Part of prioritising is setting working hours, in a specific place. Don’t litter your dinner table with invoices and tax papers. You will never be able to relax while eating with your family, and if you live alone, all the more caution, because then the temptation to stare at those unorganised till slips while you eat your two-minute-noodles, is great.
Having an online store is amazing. It’s liberating, and it truly provides you with that freedom to choose your hours and your workload, and I believe it creates a better quality of life. So don’t be put off by all the negativity. Just be aware. Stay focused. And the key ingredient: have a plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? Next month I will be diving into how to set up a basic business plan, which will give you focus and clarity for the road ahead.
Don’t be afraid to venture into the e-commerce realm – it might just be your door to a whole new world.
 Law, TJ. (2022). 19 Powerful Ecommerce Statistics That Will Guide Your Strategy In 2023 .[online] Oberlo. Available at: 19 Ecommerce Statistics You Need to Know in 2023 [New data] (oberlo.com)