Hey friends! Have you ever started selling online and been surprised by some tricky situations? I feel you. E-commerce can throw some curveballs that leave sellers scratching their heads.
Not to worry! In this post, I'll list 15 common unexpected situations that can pop up when you sell online. For each one, I'll explain:
- What the situation is
- Why it happens
- How to handle it
That way, you'll be prepared if these issues come up for your online business. Let's dive in!
1. A Customer Claims They Never Got Their Order
This is one of the most frustrating issues for sellers. You ship the order, but the customer insists it never arrived.
Why it happens: Sometimes packages get legitimately lost or stolen. Other times, customers lie to try and get free products.
What to do: First, kindly ask if they can check with neighbors or other household members. Packages can end up with others by accident!
If that doesn't work, you can ask for photo proof they didn't receive it. Review tracking details on your end too. If needed, consider reshipping or refunding to keep the customer happy.
2. You Run Out of Inventory Faster Than Expected
You launch your awesome new product and - boom! - it sells out much quicker than you planned. Now what?
Why it happens: It's easy to underestimate demand. Plus sudden spikes in sales happen.
What to do: Apologize and notify buyers of delays. Temporarily mark the product as out of stock and turn off ads. Rush to restock your inventory. Consider holding more safety stock next time.
3. A Customer Leaves A Bad Review
You feel a pit in your stomach when an angry 1-star review pops up. What do you do?
Why it happens: Even great businesses get negative reviews. Some customers are unreasonable. Mistakes happen too.
What to do: First, take a deep breath! Respond professionally explaining how you aim to improve. Other buyers will appreciate your care. Politely message the reviewer to resolve any issues.
4. You Get Hit With An Unexpected Large Return
One day you log in to notice a $500 return request. Surprise! That will put a dent in your profits.
Why it happens: Reasons for returns vary. Maybe the item was defective or damaged. Or the customer simply changed their mind.
What to do: Evaluate if the return seems valid. If so, accept it graciously. Learn from any mistakes. Add a return policy upfront to set expectations.
5. A Buyer Opens An Item Not As Described Case
Your buyer claims the product isn't as advertised. They open a dispute demanding a refund.
Why it happens: Quality issues do occur. Misunderstandings happen too.
What to do: Ask what exactly is wrong or different. If it's your fault, apologize and provide a fast refund. If not, calmly explain how the item matches the listing. Provide evidence like photos if needed.
6. Your Account Gets Temporarily Suspended
One morning you find your selling account is frozen without warning. What happened?
Why it happens: Platforms halt accounts if they suspect policy violations. Sometimes it's automated processes causing false flags.
What to do: Review their rules to see if you unknowingly broke any. If not, politely contact support explaining the mistake. Provide any info needed to get reinstated fast.
7. A Customer Threatens To Sue You
An angry buyer demands compensation and threatens legal action. Yikes!
Why it happens: Highly upset people sometimes make extreme threats, even if unreasonable.
What to do: Stay calm. Explain how you want to resolve their issue. If needed, consult a lawyer on the proper response. Very rarely do suits actually happen.
8. You're Hit With A Copyright or Trademark Complaint
Uh oh! You get an official takedown notice claiming trademark or copyright infringement.
Why it happens: You may have accidentally used content or branding you didn't have licensing rights to.
What to do: Apologize for the mistake and remove the content immediately. Review the rest of your listings for any other violations to correct. Going forward, be more careful about checking rights.
9. Your Account Gets Hacked
One morning you try to log in but your password doesn't work. Looking closer, you realize a hacker took over!
Why it happens: Cyber attacks are an unfortunate reality today. Lack of security makes you vulnerable.
What to do: Immediately contact platform support and explain you were hacked. Reset your password and enable two-factor authentication. Scan devices for malware. Beef up overall security.
10. Your Product Gets Labeled As Dangerous or Restricted
You try listing something new only to have it rejected for being "dangerous" or "restricted". What's the deal?
Why it happens: Platforms prohibit certain products like weapons, drugs, chemicals etc. Regulations restrict others.
What to do: Review the platform's rules on prohibited items. Consider focusing on less regulated products going forward. For restricted items, ensure you have any mandatory certifications.
11. A Package Gets Lost or Damaged During Shipping
You hand off a shipment to the carrier, but it arrives at the buyer dented and battered or gets fully lost. Uh oh.
Why it happens: Occasional transit mishaps are inevitable when dealing with many packages.
What to do: If noticed before delivery, halt the package. File a claim with the carrier. Send a replacement product to the buyer with sincere apologies.
12. You're Hit By An Ad Account Ban
Just as your ads start performing well - bam! - your account gets abruptly disabled.
Why it happens: Too many policy violations can trigger a total ad account ban.
What to do: Thoroughly review the platform's ad policies. Submit an appeal explaining your plan to follow their rules. Make sure future ad content complies fully to get reinstated.
13. Your Listing Gets Removed Without Notice
You log in to find one of your top product listings just suddenly disappeared. What's up?
Why it happens: Marketplaces can abruptly delete listings that break rules. Glitches can also wipe listings randomly.
What to do: Review any policy violation notices you may have missed. If it seems a mistake, contact support to appeal the removal and get reinstated.
14. You're Hit With Mass Returns All At Once
Out of the blue, you start getting slammed with a crazy number of returns. What is happening??
Why it happens: Maybe a defective batch went out. Or someone bought in bulk to scam returns.
What to do: Look for any patterns around shipping dates, products, buyers etc. Pause sales if needed until you investigate. Add return limits to reduce scam risks.
15. Your Product Gets Lots of Bad Reviews All At Once
Everything seems fine until tons of negative reviews suddenly pour in about your hot product. Yikes!
Why it happens: Sometimes dishonest sellers sabotage competitors with bad reviews. Or you may have a quality problem.
What to do: Dig into the negative feedback for any patterns. If it seems suspicious, report the sabotage to get reviews removed. If it reveals real issues, remove the product and improve it before selling again.
There you have it - 15 tricky situations that can catch e-commerce sellers off guard!
While surprises will still come up, being prepared with a game plan makes it much easier to handle them smoothly when they do. Now you've got this!
I hope these tips help you take the challenges of online selling in stride. Let me know if you run into any other unexpected scenarios I should add to the list!
Selling online comes with its fair share of surprises! From unhappy customers to platform policy issues, you never know what will pop up next.
The key is staying calm and having a plan to professionally address any situation. With the right systems and knowledge, you can turn problems into opportunities to provide awesome customer service.
Now that you know what to watch for, you can tackle the unpredictable world of e-commerce with confidence!
Call to Action
For more tips on growing a successful online business, check out Lameco's e-commerce services at here. Our team of experts can help you master the marketplaces and take your brand to the next level!