“Help me, my shop doesn’t sell a thing!”

I logged into Reddit, and I went to a subreddit that’s focused on eCommerce site owners asking for feedback for their site, because they are not getting any sale.

Something must be wrong for sure on the site, right? It’s not possible. I have a shop, but no one buys! I even run ads!

I looked up at quite a few of the shops. People probably got a hard wake-up call after spending a couple months thinking about the project and learning all about their platform and doing product research.

They lost a lot of time, but more important for them, their side hustle dream is fading away. 99.5% of the times, for these people it’s their first attempt ever, so I feel they need to be educated on the topic, they can still improve and work on making the situation better in the future, maybe with that shop, or maybe with a completely new one.

If you are one of those people, don’t despair. I don’t have any real stats, but probably 98% of the new store owners go through this phase, and how you get out of it determines if that’s going to be a success, or not.

Real world examples

So I started looking at those sites, and I posted some actionable suggestions to those users, and I got exposure about different kind of problems.

Case study 1: a little bit of everything

I’m looking at this shop which has some items related to a popular TV Serie, then some bikinis, then some woman bags, then man pullovers. All completely unrelated items, with no underlying theme.

Case study 2: fashion shop, no Instagram

Another shop has a nice design, it’s in the fashion industry so it must be crushing it on Instagram, right? That’s where these kind of things spread. I click the Instagram link, and a 404 page comes up. No Instagram at all, it was just a link added by the theme.

Case study 3: not really patient?

Person asks for feedback 7 days earlier, I click the shop link but the site is now a 404. Was a quick temporary store, I guess. If you believe in your idea, stick with it.

Case study 4: selling things I can find everywhere

Shop up for a few days, been running ads, someone came, but no one bought my t-shirts. My suggestion is, no one is out there so desperately out of t-shirts that once you opened the shop they are saying “oh finally a t-shirt shop opened up so I can wear something”. The t-shirts sold are not special in any way. Do you have an idea of how many t-shirt shops are there, both online and in the real world? It’s not enough to bring people to your shop if they don’t find something unique that they rave about.

Case study 5: no clear social media strategy

Another shop owner is just focusing on its site content, but fails to see why people don’t come and buy. Almost no social media presence at all, and mixed content published to the existing followers.

Case study 6: completely ignoring Instagram

It’s starts to be a pattern. Has perfect Instagram material, in a nice niche, but for some reason completely ignores posting on Instagram.

Case study 7: posting product images on Instagram

Instagram is a great place where to find customers, but don’t just post plain product pictures. That’s not a good strategy. Instead, post nice things related to your products, show the products too in the pictures. For example, selling dog leashes? Show them in use, then tag the product in the picture.

Case study 8: not enough ads spending

The shop runs a 1$/day Facebook ad, and not enough people buy from the shop. If that’s the only source of traffic, ad spending needs to be a lot more, if the shop converts.

Common pitfalls and how to solve them

It takes eyeballs

You can’t expect that you open a shop and people will jump to it. Do you know how many websites are there in the world? About 1.2 billions. You’re one of them. It’s literally impossible that anyone will find your shop unless you do promote it, and the best way to do that is to have an existing audience. You do really need to have an audience. If you didn’t work on that before, you need to do it now. Forget about sales and focus on growing your fans first.

Overselling on social media

Out of 15 sites I looked, 13 had zero social media presence, one was doing ok, and one was a little overselling things. My advice is that people will never share things if they think you are selling them. Share nice stuff related to your niche, do it genuinely or it will show. From time to time, promote your products, but keep in mind that social media is not pure advertising, it’s building an audience.

If you start from zero, it takes a lot of time

You can’t expect your shop to grow from zero to <enter high number of sales here> in a couple weeks, and thrive. This happens to the 0,4% of the successful stores. If you are not prepared to spend a lot of money on advertising to grow your audience, you need to spend a lot of time.

Have a great design

I don’t go in details but start with a great logo, a nice color scheme, a proper premium theme, and great pictures. Hire a designer if you cannot get this right, and ask for design review on dedicated forums and sites.

Social proof

Before buying I always check a shop’s Instagram or Facebook account. And I don’t think it’s just me, everyone does it. If then I see you have 10 followers, that’s a bummer for social proof. I want to buy where everyone buys because that’s a sign of quality. Someone else should test the waters for me, I want to buy from the best, with good reviews.

Add your story

An anonymous website, with the same dropshipping products that other shops have, isn’t going to make me willing to buy something. Add your story. Your unique view. A (that’s a real story) pet shop selling dog equipment from the middle of the Yukon in Canada, where the legendary Yukon Quest race takes place? I want to know the full story!

The mandatory popup

I went on 15 sites and I saw 15 popups after 20 seconds of looking at the homepage. Yes, everyone says they are annoying but they work, yet I got annoyed. It’s ok trying to get the visitors emails before they bounce, but I still have mixed feeling about them.

I hope you had a good read, and you found out a couple things you can do to improve your shop! If so, please recommend or share it, so other people can find it too.

Please comment below if you have something to add or ask.

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