Running an online business comes with its own special benefits. Since you don’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront, you don’t have to worry about expensive overhead costs like rent, utilities and maintenance fees.

Since your website is up 24/7, you can sell your products at any time of day. And your customers aren’t limited to the people in your neighborhood. Your website could draw in customers from around the globe. 

While running an online business comes with these special benefits, it also comes with special challenges. Read ahead to see what those challenges are and what you can do to resolve them. 

Problem #1. No Storage

You don’t have a massive warehouse to store your items. You might not even have a storage closet available! Right now, your online business’s inventory is scattered all over your home, getting lost amongst your personal belongings. 

You need to find a dedicated storage space for your inventory. Doing this will help you keep track of your essential products and supplies, and it will stop you from cluttering up your home. 

Shipping Container Storage

An excellent solution for a small online business is to create your own storage space. How? You can place a shipping container in your backyard and convert it into a storage unit. That way, your inventory will be close to home but not inside it.

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Where can you get a container? You can easily find a new or used shipping container through an online shipping container portal. Look through the shipping container options they have available. They will have different grades, sizes and types. Make your purchase, and soon enough, it’ll be delivered right to your home.

You may want to make some changes to your shipping container to ensure safe and secure storage. These are some ideas to consider:

  • Add insulation to the walls to regulate the indoor temperature. This will protect your inventory from extreme temperatures throughout the year. 

  • Add vapor barriers along the insulation to prevent condensation from creating humidity and disturbing your inventory. 

  • Add security cameras and motion-detecting lights to the outside of the shipping container to prevent burglaries. Motion-detecting lights may also deter pests like raccoons and possums from trying to infiltrate the container.
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Shared Warehouse Storage

Another option is to sign up for a membership to a shared warehouse. A shared warehouse— also known as a public warehouse — offers storage space for multiple businesses at once. This is a convenient option for small businesses that don’t have a large enough inventory or budget for a dedicated warehouse (a warehouse designed to store items for a single business). 

If you sign up with this type of warehouse, your products can be kept inside a specific zone of the facility, separate from the inventories of other warehouse clients. The warehouse may offer additional services like assembly and packaging of products. It may be easier for you to outsource these essential tasks to this third-party company.

Problem #2. Product Returns

Another common problem that online businesses deal with is product returns. Product returns are time-consuming and expensive. If the customer doesn’t want a replacement for the item, you will lose profits by issuing them a partial or full refund. If the customer wants a replacement, you will have to lose profits to package and ship one to them. Either way, you lose precious time and funds for this mistake.

So, how can you resolve a problem like product returns? You can’t stop product returns from happening altogether, but you can make them less prevalent. The best way to do this is to give the customer as much information about the product as possible so that they know exactly what they’re ordering. 

How can you do that? These are some steps you can take to improve your product listings and prevent returns:

  • Include lots of details about the product in your listings. For instance, for clothing items, you should list the size, fit, fabric, color, pattern and washing/care instructions.

  • Post multiple pictures of the product in clear lighting.

  • Give customers access to measurement guides and instructions.

  • Give customers access to product reviews and ratings from previous buyers.

  • Use AItools where customers can test out items. For instance, glasses retailers are using AI to help customers try on pairs of glasses virtually.

  • Send post-purchase emails to confirm what the customer bought and check to see whether they’ve changed their minds. This will give them the option to cancel an impulse purchase before the product is shipped.
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Problem #3. Shipping Delays

Shipping delays have been a common problem for online businesses in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic caused serious disruptions in the supply chain, leaving products stranded at ports and slow to reach their final destinations. Even in 2022, there are still shipping delays around the world. Businesses are struggling to access items from suppliers, and customers have had to wait in frustration for the products they purchased. 

How can you handle shipping delays? First, inform your customers that their products may take longer than expected. Give them generous ETAs for their purchased products. They’ll be less upset about the delay when they’ve been properly warned. 

Another thing that you can do to resolve shipping delays is to cater to national customers only. Shipping internationally comes with more risk of delays, which could impact your business’s reputation and customer loyalty. If you’re going to close your product orders to your country, make a clear note on your website. You don’t want to confuse international visitors.

You can also minimize the impact of shipping delays by sourcing your supplies and other business services from your own country. Stop using international sources. By keeping your supply localized, your business can avoid major delays. Everything will run much smoother after that. 

Don’t despair about these common online business problems. There are simple solutions for them.