4 Worst-Case Scenarios for Online Stores – And How to Prevent Them


The fact that 90% of online stores fail is a tad scary. All online merchants will encounter challenges, and only those who solve problems creatively survive – the eCommerce world is cutthroat.

Imagine it: your online store was once thriving and now it isn’t. Traffic has slowed down, leads are hard to come by, and no matter what you try, nothing sticks.

Thankfully, others have launched online stores before you, made mistakes, and learned from them. Their experience is your wisdom. In this article, we’ll be running through the top worst-case scenarios online sellers face, as well as what you need to do to avoid them.

You’re a Victim of Cybercrime

Data breaches are bad news for everyone – and they’re more common than online sellers might think. In fact, research has shown that data breaches rose in 2021 and that 294 million customers around the world were affected.

Worse still, cybersecurity incidents rose by 20% in 2020 in the eCommerce sector. What type of cyber threats might an online store face?

  • PoS attacks (point-of-sale malware)
  • Phishing of employees’ emails
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Social media breaches/compromises

Fortunately, there are ways that an online store can protect itself and its customers. Here are some tips:

  • Train your employees in cybersecurity. The more you and your team know about cybercrime and the threats you face, the easier it will be to prevent them.
  • Watch out for phishing emails. They contain a malicious link which, when clicked on, compromises your system. If you or your team spot suspicious emails, make sure they’re reported immediately.
  • Always work with a reputable web hosting provider. A solid web host should come with automatic malware removal, as well as regular updates and patches, and alerts.
  • Backup your data. If your data is ransomed, having a backup in place will make it much easier for you to thwart your attackers and mitigate the risk at the same time.

All in all, it’s important that you take the time to carry out cybersecurity analysis at your store to stay on top of things.

Your Competition Is Outperforming You

If your competition consistently outdoes you, profit margins will shrink – and you’ll effectively be left without a business. Since the eCommerce world moves at such a fast pace, keeping up with demand and your competitors can be challenging.

Your competitors will look to outdo you on things like branding, pricing and products. They might lower their prices; they might be better at marketing than you – or they might simply have better products.

The good news is that each challenge can be avoided. Here are some tips:

  • Have a strong value proposition. The stronger (and clearer) your value proposition is, the easier it will be to fend off your competitors when it comes to pricing and product – it will show your customers that you have something they can’t find elsewhere.
  • Use marketing automation tools to help your team work more efficiently at marketing your store, branding it – and growing it online.
  • Distinguish yourself. The key is to understand your target customers and what they look for in an online store, before setting yourself apart with a website and optimized marketing strategies. 

Your Organic Traffic Falls Off a Cliff

Organic traffic helps you increase sales, generate more leads – and it’s actually really cost-effective when compared with paid search. Besides, organic traffic is responsible for 53% of all traffic.

However, even if your organic traffic is looking nice and steady, it can still tail off dramatically. How come? There are a few reasons, including:

  • A dip in your rankings
  • A change in search intent
  • Changes on your website
  • Google penalties
  • Indexing errors
  • Slow site speed

The good news is that all of this can be avoided. A perfect solution is to hire an SEO professional or partner who’ll monitor your website, traffic, and SEO campaigns, as well as look out for glitches, changes in the Google algorithm, and track search intent.

Other solutions include:

  • Take care of your on-page and off-page SEO
  • Run your website through a site speed checker
  • Carry out regular keyword research
  • Produce high-quality content
  • Optimize your product pages with keywords
  • Build links

Your Supply Chain Chokes

A fully optimized supply chain is key to the success of your online store. When you have supply chain concerns, such as transportation costs related to high freight rates, inadequate infrastructure, and inefficient inventory management, you might experience an overstock or an understock. That potentially leads to delays in delivery to your customers.

Data also shows that 79% of businesses that optimize their supply chain are able to increase their revenue compared to those that don’t. To ensure you don’t run into supply chain issues, here are some things you can do:

  • Outsource warehousing. Work with a trusted 3PL and build a strong relationship.
  • Invest in inventory management software.
  • Choose fulfillment centers based on customer data. This will ensure you’re able to keep costs down while delivering your items on time. For example, if a greater bulk of your customers live on the East Coast of the U.S. but your fulfillment centers are based mostly on the West Coast, costs will add up. Splitting inventory between multiple locations can also reduce those expensive last-mile costs.
  • If possible, source goods and services locally. This can save time and money when it comes to shipping and reduce production lead times. A regional carrier may service the area where your warehouse is located, potentially offering more affordable rates than national carriers.

Conclusion

Even when you manage to generate leads and attract more customers while outperforming the competition, a poor customer experience can still turn them away. Beefing up your security will help a lot, as will offering an omnichannel shopping experience and first-rate customer support.

Other than that, it’s also important to monitor eCommerce trends to ensure that you don’t lag behind when – among other things – new technologies emerge or the customers change their shopping behavior.