Nothing could be easier than setting up an online shop: there are many simple programs to make light work of it all. However, the devil is always in the detail – not only in the design but also in the fundamental concept and legal requirements.

You’re on the road to success – you’ve developed a fantastic idea as to how you can earn money with an online shop. Your shoe accessories business is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Your database is well stocked with insoles, socks, shoe polish and ice cleats, and all products have an accompanying description and photo. Your inventory is full. You’re ready to sell!

Avoiding pitfalls
Strange…the orders are only coming in dribs and drabs. You need to find out exactly what the problem is here.

The most frequent errors: the site is difficult and confusing to navigate, the search function is inadequate, the product descriptions are unclear, dull and too demanding, the product illustrations are tiny, and even the website itself looks pretty unattractive. And here’s another cardinal sin: you’ve forgotten about the website’s responsivity – your shop looks like a minuscule digital toy shop for kids on a smartphone. And it doesn’t stop there: your general terms and conditions are unclear or do not exist, your customer service options are poor, customers cannot choose between different payment methods and last but not least, information about postage and packaging costs is nowhere to be found. Have you tried placing an order in your shop from beginning to end? How simple is it to order a product? Do you scare away first-time customers by making them register a customer account first? Try doing as wholesale distributors and warehouses do: make it as attractive, varied and direct as possible for customers to reach the checkout!

Common mistakes online shops make

Okay, but what if you haven’t found any problems?
Perhaps you should check whether Google can find you at all. And, if it can, where you are listed in the rankings (page 3 isn’t exactly good enough). You should invest a little more time in search engine optimization! But Google isn’t the only horse that your customers ride in on. Increase exposure, mention your shop in blogs and social media, make use of advertising – Google AdWords or banners on partner websites – and send an e-mail to all your contacts. In other words, imbue your shop with life – take advantage of promotions, special offers, sales weeks and competitions. But don’t fall into the trap of launching garish ongoing campaigns like those cheap providers with tiny profit margins. If you do, you’ll never escape it.

Keep your range of products up to date and make sure that it reflects current trends. Do this on a regular basis. Monitor the traffic to your site every day if possible. Where do your customers come from? What are they buying? When? How much? How do they navigate through your store? Watch out for laws and take heed of the consequences! Do your advertisements work? What about your keywords? If not: change! Ask your visitors if they are able to find what they’re looking for in your store. Are they satisfied with the product range, the service, the prices, the design? If there’s a problem: do something about it! Thanks to the internet, it has never been so easy to compare different providers as it is now. Your customers definitely do it. Do you? Maybe your competitors are simply better than you!

The problem with the law
In Switzerland, the law is not overly restrictive for websites and online shops in particular (though it’s restrictive enough). If, for example, your shop has an online presence in Germany and you’re intending on delivering your products to customers there, it is imperative that your store is legally watertight and in accordance with the relevant regulations. There are hundreds of lawyers out there who spend their days looking for legal errors made by online businesses – this can end up costing you quite a lot in fees. Make sure to always pay attention to the legal notice requirements and the relevant regulations, the right of withdrawal, correctly integrated terms and conditions (which cannot contain any inadmissible clauses), correct information pertaining to delivery times, prices and P&P costs, the data protection policy, the double opt-in feature when signing up for the newsletter (e-mail with confirmation link), the appropriate warranty and guarantee promises – and so on.

We (hopefully) shouldn’t have to point out that copying/pasting text from the internet or taking photos from other sites and using them in your shop is wrong.

And now: good luck with your shop, which should be colorful, inviting, legally above board, lucrative and above all one-of-a-kind!

Common mistakes online shops make

Sandro Bertschinger

He didn't find computers very interesting for quite some time. An Amiga 500 as a games machine was the high point at that time. Computers began to move into his focus with the advent of the internet and the possibility of building cool websites. In 2001, he crossed paths with an internet company by coincidence.