Why are Many E-commerce Stores Doomed to Fail Before They Even Start?

Even in today’s competitive market, new e-commerce stores are launching and turning into enormous successes.  The opportunity is there to create a fantastic lifestyle, so it’s not surprising that many entrepreneurs are attracted to the idea of running their own online store.

But, for every one that succeeds, there are probably another 10 that are doomed right from the start. First impressions make or break a brand new store, so it’s vital to get it right.

Let’s look at the reasons why so many stores are doomed to fail before they even get their first customer,  and what can be done to fix things.

One of the biggest reasons of all is untrustworthiness.

Shoppers are always concerned for the safety of their card details and personal details. A site will look untrustworthy if there is no proper contact information.

To fix this add a ‘Get Help’ page to your menu where you can include your store’s contact details (a contact form alone is not enough). Use a ‘chat’ plugin or a Facebook messenger plugin so that visitors know they can contact you easily. It’s vital to have a physical address on your site as well. The main message is: don’t be anonymous or give the impression that you are ‘hiding’. It’s also a good idea to add a ‘secure checkout’ icon.

The domain name you choose for your store also has an impact on trustworthiness.  You can buy sub-level domains for $1 or less, but you won’t be doing your store any favors. Stick to top-level domains. Dot com or the country extension of the country your store is operating in.

Another reason is lack of information regarding shipping, delivery times and returns.

To fix this one add a ‘Delivery & Returns’ page to the footer menu.  Even better, in addition to the footer page, add an FAQ page to the main menu and include your delivery and returns information on that page too.

Blurry and distorted images

This one should be obvious, but I’ve seen it many times.  Images should be clear and high resolution. This applies to all images on the site – the header image, product page images, thumbnails and any other images. If using a slider, take the time to find images that actually fit the slider dimensions otherwise they will display as stretched or squashed.

Spelling mistakes and typos

Wording does not need to be perfect by any means, but if there are obvious typos and spelling mistakes, your store will not come across as credible. Take the time to proof-read your content, or use a spell checker (remember, spell checkers do not always pick up homophones – words that sound alike but are spelt differently and have different meanings – such as there and their.)

Wrong pricing

Pricing is something that should be checked out even before making the decision to sell whatever it is you plan to sell. You do not need to be the cheapest and in fact, you should never try to be, but if you can’t price a product reasonably (based on the prices being charged by other stores), then it’s better not to sell that product at all.

Looks terrible!

A big part of making a good first impression is the aesthetics of your website.  Not everyone is naturally creative or has an eye for aesthetics, but we don’t need to be. We can model the layouts and colour schemes of other successful stores. If in doubt about your ability to create a store that looks good and has a ‘professional’ look about it, simply start checking out popular stores and try to mimic their colours and layout as much as possible.

Not enough content

By this, I don’t mean not enough products offered for sale. A store can be hugely successful with just one product. I’m talking about the pages on your site, the sidebar (if you have one), the footer, the header.  It’s always a good idea to have an ‘About’ page with some information about your store, what you sell, who you are.  A ‘Get Help’ page goes a long way to make a visitor feel confident. If the main menu looks a bit bare, add your categories to make it look ‘busier’.

If the header has huge white or empty spaces, try to fill it up a bit or change the header.  Use plugins or apps to add more detail to your site. For example, a ‘free shipping’ or ‘latest deals’ plugin.

With a bit of thought and effort, you can make you new store look much more content-rich than it actually is!

A Few Niches That Are Doing Well in E-commerce Right Now

Sometimes the stuff that sells well, is not the stuff we would automatically think of.  Here are a few niches that are really hot right now – as of summer 2017.

Mermaids – everything mermaids – jewelry, t-shirts, toys, mugs, blankets, tote bags.  This is going crazy at the moment. Seriously, there are even groups for people who want to discuss whether or not mermaids are real, groups for reporting mermaid sightings, and other groups that you probably don’t want to know about!  The main thing is that mermaid themed products are selling like mad and since mermaids have been ‘around’ for centuries, this is a fad that may well stick around for a while.

Unicorns – same as above. Unicorn themed stuff has come into fashion again and although it’s not as hot as mermaids, there are still a lot of opportunities here.

Owls – owls have always been popular, but they have become even more popular over the past year or so.  Wall art, jewelry, soft toys, mugs and tote-bags, ornaments and more.

Wall Decor/Art for KIDS/BABIES rooms – think stickers, canvases, murals. This is a great opportunity because wall art, especially the stick-on kind, is very cheap to buy wholesale.  I’ve stressed kids and babies rooms because this is the type of wall art that sells the best.

Wooden Watches – Not a huge niche, but still big enough if you can find a supply of really nice looking wooden watches at a good price.

Bonsai Tree Seeds (not sure of the implications of importing these) – very, very popular right now and probably will remain so. You can get seeds for almost any bonsai you can imagine and on AliExpress these are very cheap with lots of good feedback from buyers. You would definitely need to find out about the implications of importing these into your own country.

Coloured Vegetable Seeds (same as above regarding importing) – think purple and yellow carrots for example. These coloured veggies are being sold in grocery shops all over the place now. It’s not just veggies either. Coloured flower seeds are also really hot.  If you’ve not seen them, these are multicoloured, or vividly coloured flowers and plants. Again, very cheap on AliExpress.

Melamine’Magic’Cleaning Sponges – cleans everything using only water. I remember several years back ‘magic cloths’ were hot. Magic sponges do the same thing. In other words, they clean almost anything, from upholstery to ovens, without using any detergent.  These sponges are selling a lot right now and this is another product that can be sourced very cheaply on AliExpress.

Messenger Bags – for men and women. Messenger bags are simply cross-body bags that come in various shapes, sizes, materials and designs.  The most profit is to be had from selling mid-priced bags at around the $40 – $70 range.  These bags are really ‘in’ at the moment, for both women AND men.

Protect Your Personal Privacy by Using a Mailing Address

Protecting your personal privacy online is ultra-important, especially if the physical address you do business from is also your home address. You absolutely do not want to display your home address on your website, nor should you display your personal phone number either. The reasons for this should be obvious 🙂

However, if you do have an address on your website, it increases trust and this is especially true if you have an e-commerce store. As well as this, if you have a list of email subscribers, the can-spam laws dictate that you must have an address at the bottom of any correspondence that you send to your list.

So what’s the solution?

A dedicated mailing address in a country of your choice.

But this is expensive, right?

It can be, yes, but only if you expect to be getting a lot of mail to that address.  In practice, you will probably get no mail at all because you won’t be using the address for that purpose. You will be using it only to gain credibility on your website and to comply with can-spam laws when sending emails.

I recently came across a great little service called Clevver Mail. The basic plan (which is probably all you will need) only costs around $1 a month and in fact, it’s completely free for the first 6 months.  They currently have real addresses in 12 countries and can choose your address when you register.

So now you can get yourself a real address (not a PO box!), in a country of your choice and it won’t cost you a penny for 6 months 🙂

ClevverMail.com

 

 

Spy on 200,000 Shopify Stores to Find Stuff that Sells

One of the biggest challenges when starting a new online store is deciding what to sell. How do you know if a product will sell well or not? Nobody likes to waste time because after all, time is money!

What if you had a way to spy on 1000’s of stores. See their top-selling products, which Shopify theme they’re using, which Shopify apps they’ve installed. And what if you could filter through 200K stores to spy on certain niches and categories.  There IS a program that can do all of this and much more…

Find out more and watch a 30-minute video here

  • Use filters to quickly search through more than 200,000 Shopify stores
  • Use filters to search over a million different products currently being sold on Shopify stores
  • Discover the best-selling items on any store
  • Discover the price point of a store’s best-selling item
  • Know which Shopify apps a store is using
  • Know which Shopify theme a store is using
  • Find out whether or not a store has a Facebook page
  • Instantly see which stores are the most successful
  • Instantly see where a store is getting its traffic from (pure gold)
  • That’s not everything, but I’m sure you can see just how incredibly valuable this information is and it’s all available with a few clicks!

If you happen to be one of my drop shipping students, you will know that I’m not a big advocate of drop shipping from AliExpress,  but at the same time, I realise that many of you want to do it anyway 🙂 So, for those of you who want to drop ship from AliExpress, you will also get access to the Inspector tool, which uncovers the best selling products on AliExpress. Even if you are not using AliExpress, and even if you are not drop shipping, you can still use this tool to discover which types of products are really hot right now!

Find out more here

 

Affiliate Marketing – The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly

I’ve been involved with affiliate marketing for more than 15 years and it’s probably fair to say that when compared to selling your own products, affiliate marketing is simpler, but don’t confuse ‘simpler’ with ‘easier’.

It’s certainly way more laid back because when you sell other people’s stuff, you don’t need to worry about customer support, you don’t need to worry about delivering the products to the customers, you don’t need to worry about refunds and returns, and you don’t need to develop your own products or purchase stock.

Some affiliate programs pay as much as 50% to the affiliate – often the case with digital products – and some have long ‘tracking windows’ of 30-days or more. In layman’s terms, this means that if a person clicks on your affiliate link today, but they don’t buy for another month, you still get paid for the sale.

Sounds great right? Yep, and it is. I love it. It’s in my blood and I can’t see myself ever not doing it. Especially when it allows me to have several passive revenue streams.

But…

90 of every 100 people who attempt affiliate marketing never make a single cent. Of the other 10%, less than half, perhaps only one-fifth, make any real money.

So what are looking at here? Maybe 2 out of every 100 affiliate marketers actually make a good living out of it. Sobering figures, but this is the reality.

One reason for this is the low barrier to entry. A lot of people will simply ‘give it a try’ and since they don’t feel like they have anything to lose, they also quit more readily too.

And partially to blame is the hype surrounding the industry. The ‘push-button’ software that promises to make you rich, or the ‘top secret tricks’ that can transform you from a complete newbie to a super-affiliate overnight.

I say partially because deep down, most of us know that ‘if it sounds too good to be true…’

So, if we spend our hard earned money, or waste our valuable time on something that sounds too good to be true, who’s fault is that? 🙂

Yes, affiliate marketing can be an amazing and relatively laid back way to create a great lifestyle for yourself.

Or, it can make you feel like a hamster on a wheel. Make you feel like every time you think you’re getting somewhere, you find yourself right back where you started.

Fortunately for you, you are not a hamster and you don’t need to keep getting back on the wheel!

The first step towards success is to train yourself to ignore the hype. If you truly want to succeed as an affiliate marketer, it takes some work and it takes some ‘grit’.

I firmly believe that almost anyone can make affiliate marketing work for them, and the rewards can be life-changing.

You simply need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves, start at the bottom and see it through. There are no shortcuts to success.

How to Cut Through the Brain Fog and Start Succeeding!

Brain fog – what is it? It’s that feeling of not being focused. When the brain is so overwhelmed that it’s totally unproductive.

This is SO common in online marketing and one of the biggest reasons is the sheer volume of information that we try to digest. A lot of it totally contradictory, which doesn’t help!

Even long time online marketers who know exactly what they’re trying to achieve, still get these ‘fogs’ or ‘blocks’ now and again.

Maybe you’re still trying to decide which route to take. Affiliate marketing, e-commerce or developing your own products. Just making that initial decision can be tough.

You can’t really move forward effectively and start getting results unless you’re 100% focused.

So…here’s my personal cure for brain fog 🙂

First, take a step back. For me, that means taking time away from the computer. Just getting away from the ‘noise’ allows our subconscious brain to kick into gear. That’s when the ‘magic’ often happens. My own best ideas and decisions have always come about when I’m away from my desk. Maybe I’ll be walking, driving, at the gym, or whatever.

Second, you must choose which direction to go in. You can’t go in two or three directions at the same time. Are you going to pursue affiliate marketing, or e-commerce, or something else?

You should like what you do. Rather than choosing an area that you have no interest in, choose something that you know you will enjoy. If you think that you would enjoy affiliate marketing much more than e-commerce, then go with affiliate marketing or vice versa.

Third, go back to basics! This step applies if you have been jumping around from one thing to another without ever really fully understanding anything. If you have access to training that you feel is right for your needs, then start at the beginning of that training. Even if you have already been through it once, do it again because, in any decent training course, there’s always another ‘layer’ of understanding to be gained on the second time around. Don’t skim through or cut corners.

Fourth, take it slow if you have to. Don’t set goals that you can’t achieve. Don’t put yourself under pressure to do things at a pace you can’t keep up with. Don’t put yourself under pressure to earn x by x date in order to pay your rent or pay an important bill! This kind of pressure is usually counter-productive.

Lastly, every time you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, step away for a short while. Get some exercise or do something relaxing (but not watching TV because that doesn’t allow your subconscious to get to work 🙂

 

Can we Really ‘Think and Grow Rich’?

You’ve almost certainly heard of ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill and the concept of ‘the law of attraction’ which states that:

“positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased happiness, health, and wealth.”

Think and Grow Rich was a hugely successful best seller and there’s no question that Hill made (and lost) a lot of money throughout his life with his various business ventures. However, his wealth did not come about by practising what he preaches. He sold shares that didn’t exist, he bought goods on credit with the intention of reselling them and never paying his creditors, and much more. He was accused many times of running fraudulent schemes and had to go on the run to avoid arrest warrants.

Even his best-selling book (which brought him more wealth than any of his apparently fraudulent business ventures) – Think and Grow Rich, was said to have been not truly his own work. His 4th wife, Rosa Lee, played a big part in both the writing and the editing of that book.

Hill claims that he was frequently visited by spirits and by a ‘Master’ who spoke to him audibly to reveal secret knowledge. What’s more likely is that Hill knew he could cash in on passing on this ‘secret knowledge’ to those willing to pay for it!

If nothing else, he was a very accomplished salesman and the very same could be said about the ‘gurus’ and teachers of ‘the law of attraction’.

However, I’m a great believer in positive thinking and every accomplishment always begins with a thought. There is definitely truth in the saying:

‘If you think you can, you can, and if you think you can’t, you can’t’.

Mindset is very important in relation to success, which is why I invested a lot of time into my own ‘personal development’ and mindset back when I first started out in online business.

…but thoughts alone do not manifest into ‘things’. You can think as much as you like about being wealthy, about having a better lifestyle, about being healthier, slimmer, about gaining recognition, about anything you want, but it won’t happen – unless by some ‘one in a million’ random stroke of luck!

We can’t think ourselves rich and we can’t ‘attract’ what we want in life just by focusing our thoughts. The law of attraction teaches ‘visualisation’, which is a stronger thought, but it’s still only a thought. There’s also the notion that by speaking our goals and desires out loud and repeating them over and over, we increase the chance of them coming true. This stems from the science of sound and vibration and while it’s true that sound can alter things physically – that’s not quite the same as saying that speaking our desires out loud, will cause them to manifest.

You could say “I will win the lottery” 1000 times today and 1000 times a day for the next year, but your chances of winning the lottery will still be 20 million to 1.

To accomplish something worthwhile takes effort, it takes tenacity, determination and often a willingness to really challenge ourselves and push through the obstacles and the failed attempts. Maybe it can mean changing the habits of a lifetime, which as we all know, is not easy to do. Sometimes we need to develop a ‘do or die’ attitude!

This is why most people dream about what they want, but never actually get it. Many people dream about winning the lottery – but actually, they’re dreaming about the lifestyle they could have if they had significantly more money than they have now.

It’s incredible that even though the chances of winning the lottery are something like 20 million to 1, many people see this as their ONLY hope of achieving their dreams. Therefore, they focus all their thoughts of prosperity on winning the lottery. Because of this, they will probably miss 100 opportunities to realise their dreams in another way!

Don’t dream, DO. Decide what you want – visualise it if it helps – and then take the necessary action to get it. Age doesn’t need to be a barrier either.

Sometimes a student will complain that they’re too old to learn something new, that they didn’t grow up with computers and the Internet. Well, neither did I. When I was in school we had typewriters and something called ‘Secretarial Studies’ for girls. I remember getting a score of minus 11 (yes minus) out of 100 in my final exam for that subject. Apparently, it was not only the lowest score ever, but I was the only student in history to have scored a minus in the exam – or at least that’s what they told me. It’s true that learning a new skill when we are older often takes longer than it would have done had we learned that skill as a younger person – but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it AND get really good at it!

The message is NOT to stop thinking about what you want –  but to think about it (not for too long!), decide how you are going to get it, and then take the necessary action. Because thoughts without action are nothing more than ‘dreams’ or ‘fantasies’, just like winning the lottery 🙂

Beginner Drop Shipping Questions

Earlier today I got some really interesting drop shipping questions from one of my new students and decided to post them here for the benefit of anyone considering drop shipping. I’ve not named the student for privacy reasons because these questions were posted inside the course Q & A area, but here are his exact questions, along with my answers:

1) Which e-commerce websites rely on the dropshipping model?( I’m asking because I’d like to see some online stores best practices which I can use as a model)

“Lots of them!  Even big online stores like Zappos, but you would never know simply by looking at the website.  Here’s another autoanything.com. I LOVE the look of that store!  Blinds.com was built entirely on drop shipping and made the owners very, very wealthy. In fact, they sold the store for something like $50 million.”

2) What are some failure points for beginning dropshippers? What are some reasons that people getting into dropshipping give up?

“Good question.  Cutting corners is one reason.  You can’t succeed if you don’t put in the effort to create a store that visitors would want to buy from.  Tenacity is another reason, but this is no different to any kind of business. You’ve got to stick with it. Resourcefulness is another.  That’s not to be confused with ‘resources’ because you could have two different people, one with $10,000 to start his business and the other with $100.  The person with $100 could easily be the one to succeed, while the person with $10,000 fails.  Resourcefulness is more about using what’s available to you in order to overcome challenges and find solutions to problems. We all have the Internet and we all have a brain. We can use these things to solve problems and move forward.”

3) What are some reasons that online stores which uses dropshipping fail?

“There are many and some are listed above. Other reasons would apply to any online store, not just drop shipping. Not enough traffic is one, and in which case you just need to work on getting traffic.  Poor quality products, poor customer service. Again, these things apply to any online store.  I suppose the one thing that’s really different is that we are not in control of the orders being shipped out. This means that whenever you start with a new supplier, you need to be watchful. If you start getting multiple inquiries from customers about orders being late, that sort of thing, then you need to try and fix this with the supplier and if you can’t, ditch the supplier and find a replacement.”

Is it Still Possible for the Little Guy to Compete with a New Online Store?

This is a really valid question. I can almost guarantee that if you are thinking about setting up an online store, then you have at very least some niggling doubts about whether or not it’s possible to compete.

For most people, Amazon is the big beast and the one they feel most ‘afraid’ of. After all, Amazon have huge resources.  They can launch in a new market and afford to run at a loss in that market for years if they want to.

How can you, as a new small business with limited financial resources, even hope to compete with giants like Amazon?

You can, but not in the way that usually springs to mind first. Price.

In fact, you should never even attempt to compete on price with stores like Amazon because you will lose almost every time.

However, you can compete in other ways, and these other ways are generating billions of dollars in e-commerce revenue for the ‘little guy’.

Think about it this way; If it were impossible for a new e-commerce store to succeed, then why are there still many, many new stores going from zero to $10’s of $1000’s in revenue a month within a relatively short space of time?

You can succeed, but only by choosing a specific niche and making your mark on that niche.

How?

By making yourself an ‘authority’ in that niche. By providing value on your website – over and above the products you sell. This means you need to create content such as blog posts, articles, and anything else that will give value to your store visitors.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s say your store sells golfing equipment. Instead of just selling golf supplies, you could also provide a wealth of information on your store. Such as tips and guides on how to improve your golf, tips for complete golfing novices, best places to learn how to golf…

You could also have a live chat app running on your store. Even if you only have it running for a couple of hours a day, you will convert a lot of visitors into buyers that way.

There are tons of different ways to make your store stand out.

The main point here is that price is not everything and it’s certainly not the only factor in a customer’s buying decision. If it was the only factor, there would be no retail industry. It would be a constant ‘race to the bottom’ to sell at the lowest price and the whole thing would just collapse!

So yes, there is still plenty of opportunity out there for anyone with the motivation and determination to succeed with a new online store 🙂

Why You Don’t Want it to be Easy!

We’ve all the heard the saying ‘keep it simple stupid’, KISS for short. There’s a lot of merit in that saying because the simplest way is often the best way. The more we over-complicate a task, the less likely we are to ever complete or even start it.  But, simple is not the same as easy. We shouldn’t expect easy. We shouldn’t ask for easy, and the short video below shows you exactly why you don’t want it to be easy!

 

 

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