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E-commerce is growing at an exceptional rate. The industry amounted to an incredible $4.9 trillion in value in 2021 in the United States alone. By 2025, experts predict the space will be worth a massive $7.4 trillion, growing by almost 50%.
In this rapidly growing environment, ambitious business leaders have a multitude of ways to bring their own stores into the virtual world.
You can design your own e-commerce store with a website builder, take payments from a range of platforms, sell through social media and even build your presence on marketplace sites like Amazon. In fact, more than 50% of Amazon’s sales are generated by third-party sellers.
Of course, just because e-commerce is bigger than ever doesn’t guarantee your store will be a success. To survive and thrive in this world, you’ll need a plan for consistent store growth.
Here are five tips to get you on the right track
Always have a Plan B.
When you begin building your online store, you’ll need to work with suppliers and vendors to create your all-important inventory. These vendors could include everyone from bulk wholesalers who can work with you on developing your Amazon presence, to raw material providers.
It’s not uncommon over time for companies to become reliant on the specific set of partners they choose to help them run their business. Building loyalty with these groups can help you to earn discounts and other benefits long term.
However, just because you usually rely on a specific set of partners for materials, order fulfillment and other essential factors, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a Plan B. Failure to prepare for sudden issues like natural disasters, trade issues, and rising material costs is one of the worst mistakes a store owner can make.
A backup set of suppliers who can step in and deliver the same materials, or a secondary fulfilment company will be essential to keeping your supply chain running smoothly if something happens with the companies you’ve chosen as your “first pick.”
Prepare for changes in demand.
Consistent growth in the e-commerce world isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. To get to a point where you’re constantly earning revenue, there’s a good chance you’ll need to go through some dips and changes in demand. Even when your store is a clear success, unpredictable issues (like a global pandemic), could lead to demand volatility.
Ensuring you have the right funding support in place can help you get through changes in demand easily, without putting your company on the line. Traditional options like standard bank loans might be suitable for some, but they lack a lot of the flexibility required to adapt to an unpredictable environment.
Alternatively, companies like 8fig offer flexible funding options that can adapt to the unexpected changes in the e-commerce landscape. The right funding partner will be able to offer continuous capital for growth when you need it most.
More importantly, they should also allow you to submit change requests for your funding plans when unexpected issues happen, so you can focus less on dealing with the stress of change, and more on growing your company.
Leverage the right inventory management tools.
In today’s omnichannel world, where you can easily sell products through a range of platforms at once, few things are more important than having the right tools to manage your inventory.
The option to sell through a range of platforms at once, including your own website, your social media pages and e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon can help you to reach a wider range of customers. However, the more channels for sales you implement (both online and offline), the harder it becomes to track inventory on all of them.
An inventory management tool, like OrderHive, will give you a clearer view of your inventory, and allow you to determine when you rapidly need to invest in new stock, or promote a certain item you may have overinvested in. You can even use these tools to determine which of your sales platforms are delivering the best income, so you know how to distribute your sales efforts in the future.
Good inventory management tools will even provide powerful reports and analytics for future demand forecasting and planning. The reports you access within these tools can help you to plan for seasonal changes in demand in the future, and reduce your risk of dangerous stock-outs.
Invest in a multichannel brand voice.
Branding is one of the most important things any business leader can invest in when trying to stand out in a competitive landscape. You’re living in a world where a lot of companies are already going to be selling products and services similar to yours. This is particularly true on marketplaces like Amazon, where a lot of vendors compete to sell the same products.
Have a presence on multiple channels so you can reach customers wherever they are, and building a memorable brand voice into your marketing and sales strategies, will help you to stand out from the competition. You can share your brand voice and start building interest in your company in a multitude of different ways.
A lot of business owners begin by sharing blogs on their website, so they can develop a presence through SEO and content marketing. You can also use your descriptions on sites like Amazon to allow your personality to shine through.
It also pays to invest in social media campaigns, where you can attract customers specifically looking for the products and services you have to offer. Tools like Sprout Social can help you to organize your social media marketing plan across multiple channels, and schedule posts for different platforms like Facebook and Instagram. These tools also give you access to reporting and analytics features for collecting information about your target audience.
Commit to customer service.
Finally, one of the best ways to ensure ongoing growth is to upgrade your approach to customer service. By focusing on exceptional customer service, you can set yourself apart from other sellers offering similar products in your industry instantly, without having to invest a fortune into promotion.
The way you approach customer service should be consistent across all channels. If you sell on Amazon and offer people fast delivery through the fulfilment services offered there, you should also look for quick ways to accelerate delivery speeds when you’re selling through social media or your own e-commerce website.
Try to make sure you have a system in place for responding to concerns or queries your customer has across every channel too. An all-in-one environment where you can track customer service requests from Amazon, your website and any other channels you might be using can be extremely helpful. Site builders with integrations for social media and Amazon can make it easier to align communications in a single pane of glass.
Exceptional customer service will help you to earn the trust and loyalty of your target audience, alongside reviews and testimonials you can post on your website product pages, and Amazon listings to boost your chances of conversions.
Commit to supporting your customers however you can, answering the questions they ask on your product page, responding to comments when necessary and resolving complaints as fast as you can. It’s also worth following up after a purchase to ask for feedback.
Prepare for consistent growth.
Today’s e-commerce world is full of opportunities for ambitious individuals with a good knowledge of the market, and their target audience. If you do your research and find a product you know your customers will love, there are plenty of platforms you can use to earn their attention and start making sales.
However, you’ll need to make sure you’re taking the right steps to ensure consistent growth on each of these channels. From Amazon to your own e-commerce website, having an aligned strategy for long-term success should improve your chances of outshining the competition.