Making a living selling stuff online is easy, right? If you have been in the business long enough, you know that this statement is wrong. Every business has its challenges. E-commerce is no exception. Its challenges may be different compared to many other types of businesses, but they are just as real.
As an online seller, what is the hardest part of e-commerce for you? It is often assumed that the hard parts are related to pain points. Get rid of those pain points and what used to be hard becomes easier. It is a nice theory, but pain points are not necessarily so easy to address.
Whether it is international door-to-door shipping or getting your package delivered to the other side of the state, e-commerce shipping is a pain point for both retailers and customers. Shipping is a necessary aspect of the online model. But it places an intermediary between seller and buyer. That creates a pain point.
Retailers have a good idea of what they expect in their shippers. Likewise, consumers have certain expectations in everything from shipping costs to estimated delivery times. They are fussy about those expectations, too. In the middle is the actual shipping company tasked with keeping both parties happy.
You might choose DHL authorized reseller Preferred Shipping for your cross-border packages. Domestically, you might offer customers a choice among the big three: UPS, FedEx, and USPS. But shipping is always a gamble, isn’t it?
For some e-commerce operators, the biggest pain point is the customer return. On the one hand, allowing customers to return unwanted merchandise is good for business. It shows customers that you generally care about their satisfaction. On the other hand, returns cost money. They generate extra work.
There is also the question of when to allow returns and when to say no. Does a company accept any and all returns, no questions asked? Maybe the best policy is to only accept returns on damaged or defective merchandise.
Yet another pain point that has little to do with the seller-buyer relationship is sales tax. It used to be that online sellers could get away with not collecting sales tax except on purchases made within the same state. That has since changed. A Supreme Court decision a couple of years ago opened the door to sales taxes regardless of jurisdiction.
This is truly a pain point for a lot of smaller e-commerce operators. Thankfully, some of the larger selling platforms handle the taxes on behalf of retailers. eBay is one of them. They collect sales tax and remit it for retailers. They are already set up to do so in every state. If an online seller chooses to do business outside of such a platform, that company is responsible for sales tax on a state-by-state basis.
Theoretically, inventory control should be easier for online operators because they are not maintaining vast warehouses stocked floor-to-ceiling with merchandise. But practically speaking, that’s not how it works. Inventory control is often a pain point for smaller e-commerce businesses because turnover happens so frequently. More inventory flowing through the system at any one time only complicates inventory control.
E-commerce represents a fantastic way to build a profitable business that offers long-term financial rewards. But it is no walk in the park. Anyone who thinks that succeeding as an e-commerce operator is easy hasn’t tried it before. What is the biggest challenge for you? How do you handle it? If you can answer those questions without having to think too hard, you probably understand the challenges that come with e-commerce.