The Biggest Challenges Facing Ecommerce Businesses

Ben Leonard
Jan 3 · 6 min read
Business person taking notes

Looking to start your own eCommerce business? Exciting times lie ahead!

But whilst running your own eCommerce business is certainly exciting, there are a number of BIG challenges that can cause even the hardiest aspiring entrepreneur to run a mile.

Naturally, all challenges can be overcome. And it’s always much easier to overcome them when you have prior knowledge of any possible issues that lie ahead.

In this article, I’m going to go through the biggest challenges facing eCommerce businesses, and I’ll also show you a few ways to get around them.

Not Knowing What Products To Sell

A rookie mistake is to sell the products you want to sell, and which you think/hope will sell — but which there isn’t actually any genuine demand for.

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Running a successful eCommerce business often means that we have to sell products we personally have no real interest in, but which are going to generate huge profits.

But how do we know what to sell, especially in 2020 when product markets are already overcrowded? Here are some tips:

Decide whether you want to go with commoditized products or niche products

  • Identify your customer base
  • Find products that solve a problem
  • Use keyword tools to find the products that people are searching for
  • Look for trends and jump on them early

Capturing Qualified Leads

What is a lead?

A lead is a potential customer who has given you their basic information (such as an email address and their name).

What’s a qualified lead?

A qualified lead is a potential customer who’s definitely interested in what you’re selling, as opposed to someone who’s given you their basic info in exchange for a free gift.

See, to capture leads, eCommerce businesses typically have to give something away for free (such as a discount) in exchange for a leads email address (so that we can add them to our email list). And sometimes, “leads” just want the free gift. After they’ve got it, they’ll probably unsubscribe from your email list.

To generate qualified leads, here are some tips:

  • Offer lead magnets that you know will only be of use to your target customer (for example, discounts are great because it means the lead has to use it in your store)
  • Use long tail keywords that drive the right type of traffic to your online store
  • Collaborate with other businesses, such as via webinars and guest blogs that help you speak to your target customer whilst raising awareness of your store

Stiff Competition

There are now 1,800,000 eCommerce stores in the world, which of course means that whoever opens a new one will have to fight off a lot of competition.

It’s tricky — but it can be done. And who doesn’t love a good challenge like this, huh?

One of the best ways to outdo your competition is to create an online store that looks the part. You can use an online eCommerce platform like Shopify, as these platforms come with pre-built templates that make it easier than ever to create an attractive, professional-looking store.

If, on the other hand, you decide to self-host your store and create a website from scratch, make sure to use an experienced web designer.

You should also work on your SEO campaign (consider working with an SEO agency) because a good SEO campaign will boost your position in the Google rankings. This means that, when a customer searches for a product you sell, your store will be near the top. It lends your store more credibility.

Also, make sure to create an awesome social media marketing campaign that helps your eCommerce business build a long-lasting, strong relationship with your audience.

Overcoming Cart Abandonment

One of the most frustrating things about running an online store is cart abandonment.

Here’s the thing with cart abandonment: A customer walks into your store, puts a few items in their cart and you think to yourself, “great! Everything is going well, I’ve got a new customer.”

Then, after they’ve filled up their cart — they abandon it, never to return.

Say, whaaaaat?

And the thing is, this happens often. In fact, research has shown that four out of five customers abandon their carts. Damn.

The good news is that you can flip this by turning those cart abandoners into paying customers. After all, if they’ve placed your products in their cart, they’re clearly interested in what you have to offer. It’s just that — sometimes — you need to sweeten the deal somewhat. Here are some tips:

  • Add a progress indicator to your checkout page (it just helps to put their mind at rest that you’re not going to turn this into a long, drawn-out process)
  • Make sure navigation between your store and their cart is simple and can be done in a click or two at the most
  • Offer numerous payment options (if a customer can’t see their preferred payment option, they will back out of a purchase)
  • Retarget them via a remarketing campaign that includes the offer of a discount on the goods they’ve placed in their cart (you can’t do this with all your customers, as it would cost you money, but it works well with first-time customers)

Holding Onto Customers

And let’s say you do manage to convert those cart abandoners into paying customers. What next?

Well, customer retention is actually a big problem in the eCommerce world.

It’s important, however, that you work on enticing customers back because even just a 5% boost in customer retention can boost your profits by as much as 95%.

Here are some tips:

  • 75% of customers say they prefer stores that offer rewards — so offer some of your own
  • Personalise your emails — Customers love the personal touch these days, and it really helps you to build a lasting bond with them
  • Use Artificial Intelligence such as chatbots to learn more about your individual customers, before targeting them with tailored offers
  • Keep the purchasing process nice and simple
  • Stay engaged with your customers across all channels


Running an online store is both exciting and challenging. It’s important that you nip challenges in the bud as soon as possible so that your store is able to grow, sales go up — and challenges actually become rather enjoyable.

Why Should I Listen To You, Ben?

Fair question.

I built, scaled and sold an international 7-figure ecommerce business. Now I’m doing it again with several new brands. I consult with ecom businesses to help them get clear, take control and scale. And I co-founded Ecom Brokers — the brokerage by ecommerce people for ecommerce people.

Best known as the founder of Beast Gear, Ben Leonard is the classic millennial entrepreneur. He built a business on a laptop, in a cupboard, in his spare time. The difference? Ben grew an international 7-figure business and successfully exited after 3 years; the business holy grail.

Now Ben is doing it all over again with multiple brands, helping others to do the same with his ecommerce consultancy and getting people big exits with his brokerage — Ecom Brokers.

Want to hear more from Ben? Check out his YouTube Channel for ecommerce knowledge bombs.

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