97% of E-commerce businesses fail. A staggering figure, but understandable when people are now competing with almost 1 Billion websites out there.

At the current rate the 1 billion milestone will be reached in early 2015. That is some SERIOUS competition.

In my 10 years of E-commerce experience I have seen the volume of E-commerce businesses grow exponentially. Larger retailers finally understand that E-commerce is here to stay and will only get bigger.

So why do E-commerce businesses fail?

The most common mistake I see is that people believe it’s ‘easy’. And in some ways it is. It’s VERY easy to set up a basic transactional website, I could build you one myself in a couple of hours and I am no techy.

Herein lies the problem. Most E-commerce businesses fail because they do exactly that; build a website and not an E-commerce business.

With 999,999,999 competitors out there you have to be amazing to have a successful E-commerce business, you must invest in and spend time and money on your business.

Having set up 5 successful E-commerce businesses personally over the last 5 years I now actively help to grow E-commerce companies into long term sustainable models and I’ve come across four key things that must be done, and done well:

  1. PLAN: Just like you would with any other business, you must have a plan for your E-commerce business
  2. BUILD: You need to build not only a fantastic (E-commerce specific) website but also become Multichannel which requires developing a whole series of support functions around the site to get both visitors and paying customers.
  3. LAUNCH: Use marketing, use social media and invest in a structured launch for your business.
  4. MEASURE: Take the time to understand what is making your business work. Continual testing and ongoing Improvement is key to keep your customers engaged.

It’s easy to set up a website, but hard to set up a successful E-commerce business. Take the time to plan, build, launch and measure and remember to go above and beyond to stand out in this crowded marketplace.