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Growth Gone Wrong: 12 True E-commerce Horror Stories to Make Your Spine Tingle
Growth Gone Wrong: 12 True E-commerce Horror Stories to Make Your Spine Tingle
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Growth Gone Wrong: 12 True E-commerce Horror Stories

Growing an e-commerce store can be a terrifying business. Read 12 spooky e-commerce horror stories that’ll make your spine tingle!

Sometimes e-commerce growth is as breezy as a cheesy Hallmark holiday movie. Other times? It’s downright scary. 🦇 From inventory management curses to cash flow issues that’d haunt any store owner’s dreams, growing an e-commerce business can sometimes feel like a collection of e-commerce horror stories.

To celebrate the season, we’re sharing true stories of the many horror happenings e-commerce sellers have experienced while attempting to scale their businesses. Be it the sleazy competitor, the curse of the slow checkout process, or apocalypse-level supply chain issues, we know just how real it can get.

So grab your popcorn (or candy corn, if that’s your thing) and get ready for some eerie e-commerce campfire tales!

E-commerce Horror Story #1 — Boo! Locked Funds!

As an e-commerce merchant, you need cash flow like vampires need fresh blood. So what happens when the money cauldron runs out?

We asked Filip Pejic, Co-Founder of Pearly Drinks, a store that sells DIY bubble tea kits, to share the frightening tale. And let us say, it’ll send shivers down any e-commerce owner’s spine!

“Our biggest nightmare to date has been with a large payment processor (let’s call them Bank X). We had a very large wholesale order from an office come in (they were hosting a big corporate event with bubble tea) and the only way they could pay was by credit card. While we were able to accept their payment, Bank X ended up locking up 25k in funds for three months.” 

Oh, Filip! That is a lot of money out of reach! Unfortunately, the cash flow horrors didn’t stop there. 😱

“This was definitely not ideal from a cash flow standpoint because, at the time, we had shipped 40% of our inventory to our client and needed the cash to replenish our inventory position. We had no idea if Bank X would give us our money back in a week, a month, or six months. We had to take out a small loan to fund the next inventory buy. Luckily, we were able to pay it back quickly once our funds came through.”

Needless to say, Pearly Drinks stopped working with Bank X, but this story still haunts them.

Don’t let locked-up funds hold you back! With the SellersFunding Daily Advance, you can access up to 90% of your incoming sales, no matter what your marketplace’s payout terms are.

E-commerce Horror Story #2 — The Case of the $37K Romance Novel

Never did we think a steamy romance novel could cause such a fright, but in the case of Corey Donovan, President of Alta Technologies Inc., a book almost changed the course of the business forever.

Corey calls this story “The Case of the $37,000 Romance Novel” and here’s how it happened:

“As an industrial products seller, we were incredibly confused when an ophthalmologist in Tennessee called to ask why we had sent her clinic a very used, very steamy, 1980s Judith Krantz book. Worse yet, the return address contact was me! With some digging, we’d come to learn that ‘You Take Manhattan’ had been sent to her on our UPS account number and insured for $37,000, costing us several hundred dollars in fees. UPS eventually credited us back the amount and changed our number, but we never did find out who had sent it, or why the book had been sent this way.”

Yikes…talk about a mystery turned e-commerce horror story!

Lesson: As Corey says, “Keep an eye on your shipping account numbers, folks!”

E-commerce Horror Story #3 — Ghosting an Epic Partnership Opportunity 👻

Sometimes the real scare is missing out on something that could have been epic.

When the one-and-only Maria Shriver, Co-Founder and CEO of MOSH, said she was ghosted when offering partnership opportunities, we couldn’t believe our ears.

“Our biggest roadblock was in the early days when we were seeking a company to partner with. The brands we approached didn’t seem to think that an idea brought to them by a woman in her 60s would be viable in the current marketplace. Additionally, they weren’t aware of the importance of eating for brain health, so they assumed consumers wouldn’t be interested either. So, they passed on starting a venture with us altogether. After a string of people turned me down, my son Patrick said I should see it as an opportunity to empower myself by bootstrapping it. So we launched a mission-focused company through self-funding and loving investments from family and friends.”

As a now million-dollar company, we’d say anyone who passed up on working with MOSH probably feels like they chose the poisoned goblet over the wine. ☠️

E-commerce Horror Story #4 — An Eerily-Timed Site Crash 

Peak sales hours are to e-commerce entrepreneurs what brains are to hungry zombies. 🧟

But what happens when a ghastly website crash keeps you from cashing in during your peak money-making hours?

Aviad Faruz, CEO of FARUZO New York, shares this haunting tale:

“One of our biggest e-commerce growth roadblocks has been keeping up with demand. Our site crashed during our busiest hours due to high traffic volume. We solved this issue by working with a hosting company that could accommodate our high traffic volume and by upgrading our site’s infrastructure.”

Needless to say, FARUZO New York won’t be skimping on site speed anytime soon!

E-commerce Horror Story #5 — The Super Scary Checkout Process

Abandoned carts and unfinished checkouts are enough to make any store owner shudder in fear.

When Ubaldo Perez, CEO of Hush Anesthetic, realized his team could’ve caught these mistakes sooner, he knew they had to share their experience with fellow store owners.

One of our biggest early mistakes was not optimizing our website for mobile checkout sooner. It can be difficult to keep up with the changing tech trends and although people could check out on their phones, our checkout process was clunky, outdated, and surely contributed to our lousy sales.”

Luckily, the frighteningly slow checkout process didn’t last long.

“After rebuilding a mobile-exclusive checkout that integrated tightly with our targeted Instagram and Tiktok ads, we saw a massive spike in sales and they have remained at consistently higher levels since,” says Ubaldo.

According to him, the key lesson from this tale is to always pay attention to consumer trends so you can do everything possible to reduce friction during the checkout process. 🙌🏻

E-commerce Horror Story #6 — Cursed Package Delays

Carrier delays do more than threaten customer satisfaction, they can curse your entire e-commerce business.

Gigi Ji, Head of Brand and Business Development at KOKOLU, shared a haunting growth tale we’re all too familiar with:

“Our biggest e-commerce growth roadblock has been the impacts created by the pandemic, such as delays in sending and receiving packages through the mail. Even though the e-commerce market is booming due to the changing behaviors of shoppers, package delays are always a cause for concern when dealing with customer retention. These setbacks have caused packages to arrive later than intended or to be rerouted to an extra stop before arriving to the customer.” 

To solve this issue head-on, KOKOLU makes sure customers have all of the information and resources they need to track their orders.

KOKOLU also provides updates on any changes that occur during the shipping process, so there aren’t any monstrous surprises for customers. 🧙‍♀️

E-commerce Horror Story #7 — Bad Luck, Poor timing, or Under a Spell?

Have you ever looked back on an experience and thought you were surely under some kind of hex? Look no further than the store owners who opened up shop right before the pandemic began.

Rachel Reid, CEO of Subtl Beauty said:

“One of the biggest struggles we’ve faced is that we opened our company not long before the pandemic began. In the initial lockdown period — and for a good while after — people were very cautious about spending. This represented a huge challenge for our business because, as an early-stage startup, we didn’t have a lot of padding to fall back on.

Thankfully, Rachel and her team were able to ride out the market until sales bounced back.

“We solved this issue through a combination of making a quick and unbureaucratic pivot toward products that people stuck at home may find valuable, allocating our funding in smart ways, and resisting the urge to expand too quickly — even when we were in a position to do so.”

E-commerce Horror Story #8 — A Supply Chain Nightmare 

Rachel’s isn’t the only experience that proves an e-commerce horror story can turn into a dream fantasy if you know how to pivot in the face of peril! 🔮

Patrick Robinson, Founder and CEO of Paskho, shares his spooky growth tale:

“Our biggest challenge (supply chain issues) ended up being our biggest success, which was creating a decentralized network of fabric suppliers, artisans, sewers, and designers from underrepresented communities throughout the US. For most fashion brands, everything is manufactured overseas. But at Paskho, we wanted to find ways to give back to the community. So, we worked tirelessly to create a sustainable clothing line through this network. Although the initial setup was difficult, the rise in remote work made our dream possible and led to us prospering as a business coming out of the pandemic. Unfortunately, many other clothing brands faced numerous supply chain issues.”

With skill and a turn of luck, Patrick’s supply chain nightmare became a major competitive advantage.

E-commerce Horror Story #9 — Oh-So-Spooky Saturation 

When you show up late to the Halloween party and everyone else drank the spiked punch before you did, you know you’re in for a long night.

Mark Valderrama, Founder and CEO of Aquarium Store Depot, tells a terrifying tale of showing up too late to an overcrowded market:

“The biggest roadblock I faced on my e-commerce journey was entering fairly late into the market. Brands that introduce a new idea or a new exciting product get a huge advantage in creating robust brand recognition and building trust. Brands that come afterward have a hard time growing their roots. This is exactly what happened to me. The market I jumped into was pretty saturated already, and the competition was soaring. This made it hard for me to expand and generate more revenue.” 

Luckily, Mark made it out of the spooky saturated market with great success. The turning point? Rebranding.

Mark rebranded with better positioning, a unique voice, and a killer value proposition. The results? Steady growth, fast. Even in crowded competition. Way to slay those demons haunting you, Mark!

E-commerce Horror Story #10 — Beware the Inventory!

Is there a goblin in the warehouse?

Robert Johnson, Marketing Director of Coast Appliances, shared a story that’ll make you think twice about the way you manage your inventory.

“Our appliance company has an e-commerce platform and physical stores. Tracking our inventory was the biggest challenge during our store’s early years. This problem somehow affected our cash flow and sales workflows. I talked to the CEO and suggested integrating our sales management software with an inventory management program. I’m glad it was approved. This solution streamlined our e-commerce and physical store operations, which significantly increased our monthly sales to an average of 200% since the date of implementation.”

While Robert found a solution, nobody really knows what happens to untracked inventory in the dead of night. Keep the light on, folks.

E-commerce Horror Story #11 — When Competition Turns Scary

Steep competition is enough to make anyone shake in their boots, but when it’s the main hindrance to your store’s success, it can feel like a living nightmare.

Jason Vishnefske, President of Santa Barbara Chocolate Company, shared:

“Competition has been the biggest e-commerce growth roadblock so far. And it becomes worse due to insufficient time. Several brands come into the market featuring the same products, which makes it difficult to grow.

To break free of the competition, Santa Barbara Chocolate Company focused its efforts on building a strong image in the food and beverage industry. Lucky for Jason and his team, they’ve now got a recognizable brand they can scale.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to keep an eye on your competitors before you go to sleep tonight!

E-commerce Horror Story #12 — The Case of the Phantom Plant Sales

What happens when a company on the rise comes becomes the victim of a global meltdown?

Tammy Sons, CEO of TN Nursery, shares the inside scoop:

“We’re in a ‘sustainable business industry’ (plant nursery) and we were allowed to remain open during COVID in 2020 when the world shut most businesses down. We hit an all-time record in 2020/2021 with sales exploding from a normal $1-2 million to double this amount. Everyone was home and many people focused on remodeling and landscaping their homes. When the vaccinations came out and people’s lives began returning to normal, our sales dipped below average. People were more interested in vacation destinations and didn’t want to stay home, much less do any more renovations.”

Tammy said the nursery had to focus on heavy advertising campaigns via social media and Google Ads to recoup funds and get back on its feet again.

Thankfully, the phantom plant sales reappeared. And the rest is e-commerce horror history.

Not All Spooky Stories Have Scary Endings

We know it can be a terrifying world for store owners seeking e-commerce growth, but we want you to know that with SellersFunding, we’ve got your back no matter what growth horrors come your way!

Whether you’re looking to scale, never run out of inventory, or simply gain access to flexible funding solutions, we’re here for you.

We provide two core types of e-commerce funding solutions for sellers:

Working Capital: Flexible funding for your forecasted seasonal inventory or longer-term business investments. A flexible line of credit allows you to invest in the stock, tech and human resources you’ll need for smooth operations. We can approve credit limits of up to $5 million in 48 hours or less and you’ll only pay interest on the amount you use.

Daily Advance: If you’re facing a sudden holiday rush and need to invest in more inventory ASAP, the Daily Advance solution allows you to release up to 90% of the previous day’s net sales and negotiate repayments up to 2-6 months later. Repayments are based on how much revenue you make each month, not fixed amounts.

No matter what kind of monster you’re up against, we can help turn your scariest growth tales into resounding success stories. Reach out today to learn more about how we work.


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