Have you ever launched an e-commerce website and failed, but don’t know why?

90% of all e-commerce business start-up’s fail!
 (Patel, 2016)

Every week I meet or take calls from business owners who all have one thing in common. They have tried launching an E-commerce website and failed, most of them don’t know why?

The top 3 reasons e-commerce businesses fail!

1. They haven’t developed a manageable strategy and timeline

2. They have too great an expectation and quit too early

3. They Choose the wrong web design team

1.  You haven’t developed a manageable strategy and timeline

During my e-commerce consultancies one of the first things I try to impress on the business owner is the need to Start Small & Grow Big” . You need time to learn, adapt and compete against similar companies or products that have a head start on you.

Each e-commerce project should have a strategy with measureable goals in place before you begin.

Key areas to consider:

  • What platform should you use?
  • How will you load your products?
  • How will you manage stock?
  • What delivery methods should you use?
  • What payment options should you choose?
  • How will you market the website?
  • What social media platforms should you use?
  • Have you got a budget set aside?
  • Do you have time to manage the site?
  • As the website gets busier can you expand?

Your strategy and timeline are intrinsically linked to your budget, so, be realistic at all times.

In the early stages of your project you’ll need to set aside a fair bit of time to engage with your web design team, you’ll need to adjust your schedule to include website related activities.

A typical breakdown of an e-commerce project should always include a Start Date and Delivery Date, within that timeline you should have other phased goals:

  • Graphic Design phase
  • Development phase
  • Testing and training phase
  • Content/product loading phase
  • Launch date
  • Post launch activities (Digital Marketing, Pay Per Click Advertising etc.)

“Execution of a strategy is a specific set of behaviours that companies need to master in order to have competitive advantage” (Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy, 2018)

2. Business owners have too great an expectation and quit too early

Some clients think that if we build them a website the money will start rolling in. I can tell you I’ve seen some disappointed faces across my desk 3 months post launch!

Surprisingly a good number of business owners who go to all the trouble and expense of building an e-commerce website abandon it after 3 or 4 months because it didn’t work!

It’s not that it didn’t work, it’s that they didn’t work the business! Currently there are over 1.8 Billion websites online. So launching your e-commerce website without a Marketing Plan is like putting a message into a bottle and throwing it into the sea.

Google may not trawl your website for a number of weeks so it will be practically invisible, it won’t rank well either, so it’s unlikely to appear on the first few pages of a search engine results, until you start working on your “Post Launch” Strategy.

Post launch strategies include but are not limited to:

  • Blog Writing
  • Video Blogs
  • Social Media Activity
  • Google AdWords Campaign
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Email Marketing Campaign
  • On site content writing
  • SEO development
  • Referral Request for your Google My Business account
  • Newspaper and Media Advertising

To deliver all or even some of the above to a level whereby you are going to see some results takes time –Blog writing may take 18 months or more to gather momentum, Pay per click advertising takes approx. three months of delivery, testing and refinement to achieve an optimised campaign.

3. Choosing the right Web Development Team and getting the Budget right

How to get the balance right?

If you’re really interested in building a business online then choosing the right team to partner with is a serious choice, you will probably be working with this team for a 3 to 5 year period, longer if the business model and partnership blossoms. Choosing the wrong Web Developer can set you back 2 years!

By talking to friends and colleagues who have either built a website or built a business around their website you will gain invaluable insight into the process and you may well get a decent referral, I know in my own life I will only refer someone who has done an outstanding job.

Choosing the wrong Web Developer can set you back years!

How do you choose the right web developer for your e-commerce project?

  • Do a Google Search, if the Website Development team know what they are doing they should rank well.
  • Look at their portfolio of work, does it resonate with you
  • Call a couple of their clients and ask them about their experience
  • Open a conversation with the Web Development team, meet with them to discuss the specifics of your e-commerce project

Questions to ask your prospective Website Development team:

  • How much will it cost and what’s included in those costs (Get a breakdown)?
  • How long will it take?
  • What type of support do you offer?
  • Who writes the content?
  • Who uploads the content?
  • Can I edit the content myself?
  • Who uploads the products?
  • Can you connect my EPOS system to the website?
  • What payment gateways can I use?
  • Will the website talk to my accounts package?
  • Who’s responsible for the SEO on the website?
  • Do you give training on e-commerce management?
  • Is my website Responsive (mobile friendly)?
  • Who manages the Google AdWords?
  • Who manages the Social Media posting?
  • Who Pays the 3rd Party Costs (Facebook Ads, Google Adwords etc.)


If you want your e-commerce business to be part of the 10% who launch successful e-commerce websites you should do the following:

  • Design a clear and achievable strategy, map it out on a timeline
  • Keep your feet on the ground, this isn’t going to be an overnight success
  • Choose your web development team wisely.
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