7 Mistakes That Prevent You From Making Your First Sale Online

11 min read

Have you ever found yourself searching online for “How to make your first sale online”?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Being able to make money online comes down to having a strong marketing strategy for your product.

However, there are lots of common mistakes that new online store owners make that prevent them from making their first sale—let alone building a profitable business.

If you are struggling to make money online, then this article is for you!

You’re going to discover the 7 mistakes that prevent you from making your first sale online.

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1. Choosing a Super-Competitive Niche

If you want to build an ecommerce store, your first step is to decide which niche to go into.

It’s crucial to avoid the mistake of choosing a niche that has too much competition baked into it already.

For the same reason, it’s important to avoid overly broad niches (i.e. “fashion”) and stick to smaller ones where you will find it easier to build an audience and drive sales (i.e. sun dresses for millennial women).

Some ultra-competitive niches include:

  • Selling T-shirts
  • Baby clothing
  • Wedding invitations

Of course, there are still tens of thousands of stores that sell these products — which obviously means there’s money to be made in those niches. It can just be harder to distinguish yourself, especially as a new brand.

For instance, The Tall Spot sells clothing for tall women only, which is a great way to differentiate themselves from others in such a saturated niche.

2. Working with the Wrong Vendors

Finding the right vendor is crucial for an online seller.

Unfortunately, a lot of new store owners have no clue where they can find the right products to sell online. To make matters worse, there are tons of unscrupulous vendors and middlemen waiting to scam people out of their hard-earned cash under the guise of helping them sell online.

For instance, say a mattress retailer like this one were to conduct a search for “mattress wholesale”:

Their search would be met with a ton of results — but many of them would be for scammers eager to prey on naive buyers.

So, how does a buyer know legitimate wholesalers from scammers? By using the right services to find vendors.

For example, if you want to dropship, you can use services like Worldwide Brands that will connect you with pre-verified wholesalers. You can also use Ecwid’s range of dropshipping apps (Wholesale2B, Syncee, and Spocket).

Just keep in mind that there are always new ecommerce trends that might be tempting to jump into. But it’s always safer to source from reliable, well-known wholesalers like the ones mentioned above.

3. Not Defining Your Target Audience

A lot of new business owners simply jump in and start trying to sell their products without really defining who their ideal customers are.

This ultimately results in a lot of frustration, as they have to put in a lot of hard work with mediocre results to show for it.

You must dive deep into market research to make sure that:

  • Your audience has a real need for your product
  • They are willing and able to pay for it
  • You can communicate the offer in language they’ll understand
  • Your target audience can be front and center in your marketing strategy.

Defining your target audience in this way will help you create an experience that is sure to resonate with them.

You can craft compelling brand messaging that will drive them to buy again and again.

But how exactly do you do that?

By following these steps to create a profile for your ideal customer:

  • Learn your customers’ pain points
  • Discover what types of solutions they tried in the past
  • Find out what worked and what didn’t
  • Know the values that are important to them
  • Figure out the type of content they engage with online.

You can achieve this by going through blog comments, forums, reviews on third-party sites, or social media posts to see what your potential customers are saying.

With this information in hand, you will be better able to market your products to the right people.

You’ll also be able to communicate the value of your products more effectively, which will help you stand out from your competitors.

For example, a website that sells VPNs might discover, through its research, that its target audience frequently asks the question: “What is a VPN?”, or “How does VPN work?”

Answering these questions on their website would enable them to target those customers. By creating a series of articles designed to help them gain a full understanding of what VPN software is and what it does, not only are they being helpful, but also generating organic traffic to their website. Win-win!

4. Having a Weak Marketing Plan

Even if you plan your store right — choose the right niche, audience, and vendors — you still won’t find success unless you have the right marketing plan, one that will allow you to get customers through the door.

Your ability to build a responsive website and get traffic to it plays a huge role in the number of sales you make, and ultimately your business’s bottom line.

Here are a few tips to help you drive targeted traffic to your online store so you can begin making sales:

  • Guest Blogging: Find top-quality blogs that accept guest posts and submit high-quality posts to reach brand new audiences.
  • Use Google Ads: Google Ads offers a way to get reliable and consistent traffic to your products. You can also use Amazon Product Ads to get an immediate flow of traffic to your store.
  • Leverage Google Shopping: This is something that most marketers overlook, but Google Shopping can help you get your products the spotlight they need so you can sell more.
  • Optimize for Search: Create a lot of high-quality content and optimize it for the search engines. Target competitive keyword terms, as well as longtail keyword phrases. Eventually, your content will start to rank and drive large volumes of targeted traffic your way.

Having said that, it’s important to note that a strong marketing plan will only help you if:

  • You’ve picked the right niche
  • You have optimized website design
  • Your products can be sourced at a low enough price to allow you to make a decent profit.

Luckily, there are tons of sales and marketing tools designed to help you every step of the way — from planning your marketing strategy right up to its execution. And resources like the Ecwid Blog that are chock full of tips and tricks to help you at every stage of your marketing journey.

5. Not Defining a Unique Value Proposition (USP)

strong USP is one that clearly articulates your product’s special and unique benefits.

It should be something that your competitors don’t offer, and something that makes you stand out in a crowded field. Your unique selling point is your key differentiator.

It’s the reason customers will purchase your product instead of your competitors, and it’s a crucial part of your overall marketing strategy to attract new customers.

Although you may be tempted to hire freelancers to do some of this work for you, it’s never a good idea to delegate creating the USP for your own product to someone else.

So how exactly do you go about defining your USP?

Here are a few things to bear in mind when creating your own USP:

Get Into Your Target Customer’s Head

Sales expert advice says to get to know your perfect customer:

  • What they want
  • How your product can help them solve their problems
  • And the factors that motivate their buying decisions.

Ask yourself why your existing customers choose your business over competitors.

Explain How Your Product Solves the Problem

Customers aren’t looking to buy your product — they want solutions to their problems. As a famous marketer once said:

“Customers don’t buy quarter-inch drills because they want quarter-inch drills. They buy quarter-inch drills because they want quarter-inch holes.”

So, make sure you list the biggest distinctive benefits of your product and the value it will add to your potential customer’s lives.

A great example is the cosmetics industry.

In the beauty niche, companies don’t sell makeup, they sell different lifestyle ideals, like glamour, style, luxury or confidence. The products are just the tools to help customers on the road to attaining these more intangible ideas. This concept of chasing ideals instead of products applies to a lot of other industries too.

For instance, this site that sells online study materials focuses its marketing on the biggest distinctive benefit of its product, which is:

“The best documents shared by fellow students, and organized in one place.”

Create an Elevator Pitch

Once you get into your target customer’s mind, you have all the information you need to make your business irresistible to them. You now know how your product solves the problem, but you can take it a step further by making your customers a promise.

It doesn’t matter what type of product you have — whether it’s a kids’ toy or a CRM with predictive dialer, this tactic works great every time.

An excellent example of this concept in play is FedEx.

The company guarantees that it can deliver any package, from any place in the world to its destination overnight. This addresses the customer-specific need for reliable package delivery.

At the same time, it also makes a promise that their packages will be delivered with care, and on time — every single time!

Once you have what makes your business different, you can then condense this into a short sentence — your unique value proposition.

6. Using a Non-Optimized Sales Funnel

As any marketer will tell you, it’s hard work trying to find new customers.

If you have to do the same work over and over again each time you want to make a sale, you’ll find it extremely hard to grow and scale your business.

And remember, it costs significantly less to keep a customer than it does to acquire a new one.

That’s why having an optimized sales funnel is important to the growth and success of your business.

A sales funnel is the marketing term for a potential customer’s journey toward a purchase. It involves several steps:

  • Top of the Funnel (TOF): At this stage, the customer is just becoming aware and showing interest in a business or product.
  • Middle of the Funnel (MOF): This is the sales process that converts a prospect to a paying customer.
  • Bottom of the Funnel (BOF): This is where the prospect actually takes action to make a purchase.

The image below illustrates how a sales funnel for a business in the Digital Marketing niche might look:

An optimized sales funnel will allow you to:

  • Generate tons of leads
  • Increase conversions
  • Make more per sale
  • Boost customer retention (and therefore lifetime value).

Luckily, these days there are a lot of affordable B2B portals and various marketing and sales tools you can use to help you build optimized sales funnels.

7. Offering Poor Customer Service

One mistake many new store owners make that costs them that first sale is offering poor customer service.

Ultimately, this results in a lot of dissatisfied customers, and poor customer retention, something businesses can’t afford if they hope to succeed online.

Take, for instance, this meal-planning service.

As you can see, the site offers its customers a lot of options for help and support. This makes it less likely that any of their customers’ needs or complaints might go unmet. Here are a few ways you can provide stellar service to your customers:

  • Have a fair and clearly defined refund policy
  • Respond to every message sent through your website
  • Always reply to comments left on your blog
  • Practice social media listening, and join relevant conversations
  • Respond to comments and questions on social media.

Great customer service also includes dealing with complaints in a calm, professional manner instead of showing impatience.

A site that does this well is this one that sells capsules that range from sizes and quantities.

As you can see from their homepage, customer service is very important to them.

There’s a clear button for customers to call support, as well as links to more information on shipping, their refund policy, and even training resources.

Conclusion

There you have it. 7 common mistakes new online store owners make repeatedly. We hope this article has helped you understand some crucial concepts that you should consider carefully as you build your ecommerce store. Use the information in this article to avoid these mistakes in the future so you can start making money online.

Over to you. Which of the mistakes in this article have you made in your online business? Share your experiences below!

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About the author

Burkhard Berger is the founder of awesomex™. You can follow him on his journey from 0 to 100,000 monthly visitors on www.awesomex.com. His articles include some of the best growth hacking strategies and digital scaling tactics that he has learned from his own successes and failures.

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