Ecommerce stores are one of those things – they’re easy to get up and running, but they can be more challenging to scale and monetise on a regular, long-term basis. Perhaps you’ve already started an ecommerce venture of your own, but you’ve found yourself stuck in a rut and you want to build momentum? With careful planning, marketing and strategic automation, it’s possible to scale your business and make more sales. Here are some useful tips to help you grow your brand in the right direction.
Invest in marketing
The online world offers us a plethora of different marketing channels, so if you don’t have some sort of marketing strategy already in place, you’re really missing out. Marketing should go hand-in-hand with everything you do, and there are plenty of ways to go about it, from email campaigns and social media to SEO and PPC.
- An important way to start is by collating an email list. Be sure to include an opt-in feature on your website where potential customers can choose to hear from you. Remember, you should never send unsolicited emails where the recipient hasn’t given you permission
- It’s definitely worth including a blog on your ecommerce website, and publishing regular, shareable content that gives your store value beyond its sales pages. This will also help to position you as an authority in your industry
- Optimise your site for SEO to ensure that you’re showing up for the search terms relevant to your business. It can be a tricky marketing tactic to get right, but there is a wealth of information available. Be sure to do your keyword research using tools such as io to discover terms and related words you might not have thought of. (More small business SEO tips here)
If you’re struggling to grow your business because you’re getting bogged down in repetitive daily tasks, then online tools could be the answer to many of your problems (more on automation later).
Your payment systems, inventory management and sales records should all be available to you with minimal fuss. Invest in ecommerce software that will help you manage pricing, customer service (ZenDesk is popular), and inventory from day one.
What’s more, as you scale you should also consider whether your web hosting will need upgrading, as you come to require more space and traffic allowance. This will be important to ensure your website is performing well and providing a good user experience. Many ecommerce merchants just starting out choose to use a hosted, out-of-the-box solution such as Shopify, which doesn’t require a big upfront investment. It allows you to customise your own store and scale as you grow – and it also covers you if your website goes down. Later on you may want to scale with a custom solution if you’re finding you have complex technology requirements.
Prepare to scale production
As you begin to scale your business, production can often pose one of the biggest challenges. For example, you may go from selling just one or two products, to selling a variety in a range of different colours and sizes. These variables can put extra strain on your current production and order fulfilment capabilities.
Accommodating this growth can be a learning process, and you may make some mistakes along the way. If you’re smart, you’ll seek out expert advice and analyse your sales data from week to week, to identify patterns and avoid being totally overwhelmed. Your past purchasing trends may help to guide your production efforts as you grow – or all least give you a ballpark estimation.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from real-world businesses and entrepreneurs who have been through it all before. They may have encountered some similar experiences: the lessons from which can be put to good use when you come to make the same moves yourself.
Create an outstanding customer service policy
Having a solid customer service policy in place is a must if you are planning on scaling your ecommerce business. This is especially important when it comes to how you deal with customer complaints. Because here is the thing: as you scale, you will very likely get them more often.
The more people you serve, the higher proportion of people you risk having an issue with your product. But if you can handle their complaints graciously and provide a quick resolution to their problem, you still have a chance to make them happy and keep them on side. This is very important, as in the age of social media, unhappy customers will freely flaunt their dissatisfaction to the world – and this is very bad for business. Particularly for a budding business that has not yet got into its groove.
Here’s some advice on handling customer complaints like a pro.
As an ecommerce business owner, ecommerce automation is going to be your best friend – using computer software to manage your processes and improve efficiency all round. It also means removing the risk of human error, so your business runs semi-automatically. The more you can automate menial and repetitive tasks, the better.
Automation can be used to:
- Copy and paste addresses from orders to labels
- Connect automatically with your payment system
- Send orders straight to a drop shipping supplier
- Print pre-addressed shipping labels
- Maintain record logs
- Create inventory lists
And much more. If you find yourself short of time because you’re spending it on small, time-consuming jobs, now is the time to automate as you scale. Here are 6 tasks your ecommerce business should automate now.
We know of many SMEs that have been boosted by ecommerce. It’s a growing industry, and an easy one to get involved in, since the barriers to entry are low. But this does make it more competitive. By taking these five points into account, you increase your chances of scaling successfully, but it doesn’t all end here. You must seek to constantly improve, to ensure that your business stands out. And importantly, you must identify the time-saps in your day-to-day tasks and seek to reduce them where possible, in order to focus on the areas that really need your attention.