Trying to scale your business can be a difficult task. Even if the company is growing on its own, there are still many things you need to do in order to keep up. Failure to keep working on growth can lead to the collapse of any growth you've already accomplished.
Ecommerce can be one of the hardest businesses to scale. Offering a service is one thing, but selling a product requires logistics, which is a whole different ball game.
Is your ecommerce business stuck in a rut? Is it growing, with momentum you want to keep going? If either of these scenarios applies to you, here are three things you need to do immediately to build up or retain momentum, to ensure continued growth.
1. Create a strong marketing campaign.
You cannot grow without marketing. Even if people are buying your products, you must still have a strong marketing strategy. If you don’t, you will bottom out once word-of-mouth advertising starts to fizzle out. Think of it as continued momentum which you need, to sustain growth.
“A deep understanding of inbound marketing best practices is vital to the growth and success of your business,” writes Murray Newlands. “No matter how busy you are, you simply can't ignore the importance of marketing your brand effectively.”
Selling online requires a strong digital presence, but you also need to close the sale with potential customers. Engaging in an SEO strategy to get more people to your website is great, but you also need to make it worth their while to purchase your product. You can do this through special offers and other incentives.
Some of the top marketing methods for ecommerce include social media as well as email marketing. Two-thirds of people abandon shopping cart purchases. Using email to remind people of abandoned shopping carts is a great way to get those customers back to your ecommerce site, and spending money.
2. Stop fulfilling your own orders.
One thing that holds back many people in the ecommerce world are the aspects of picking, packing and shipping. Are you still sitting at your kitchen table, packing boxes and printing labels? Whenever I go to pick up my mail at the UPS Store, I see people coming in with arms full of boxes. If this sounds like you, then let me introduce you to the world of fulfillment.
A fulfilment service is a company that stores your product (some of you may already be familiar with Amazon Fulfillment). Once a customer places an order, a fulfillment company does all the work he or she normally does sitting at the kitchen table and driving to the UPS store. A fulfillment service is mandatory if you plan on scaling-up in ecommerce.
“The business operations of a successful ecommerce company are distinctly different from those of a fulfillment warehouse,” says Jake Rheude, director of business development and marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, a U.S.-based fulfillment center. “A strong fulfillment partner will enable an ecommerce company to focus on the critical tasks associated with growing their profitability, such as marketing, procurement/manufacturing, customer support, etc.”
Using a fulfillment center has many benefits that will allow you to scale up. You can save time and focus on other areas of your business. It also allows you to save money on shipping costs, as you no longer need to order packaging, pay for postage and drive to and from locations to drop off packages.
3. Create an exceptional customer service policy.
So let’s do some math. If you have one customer complain for every 99 who are satisfied, you are doing pretty well. Now, let’s scale your business to 1,000 customers, which means you now have 10 who are complaining. Long story short: The more you sell, the more problems you are going to have.
You need to get in front of customer service before you get buried in complaints. You cannot avoid all issues with your ecommerce business, but you do need to learn to handle the complaints when they come in. With social media being the most likely place someone will complain about you, taking care of your customers should be your number one priority.
“Most complainants are dissatisfied with how their customer problems are being handled,” writes influencer, Jay Baer, in his book Hug Your Haters. “For the majority of businesses, the only reason we can eke by with our current customer service approach is because our competitors are equally shabby, or worse.”
According to Baer and many others, your original problem is not the main reason why people complain. It is how you deal with their complaint. Having a customer-service policy in place to deal with customers is imperative for keeping your customers happy and avoiding negative online reviews.
Final thoughts on scaling your ecommerce business
Keep in mind that these are not the only things you need to do in order to scale your ecommerce business. However, these are three of the most important. You need to start or keep the momentum going to drive more and more sales. You also need to free up your time by getting rid of the redundant things such as picking, packing and shipping.
Finally, take care of your current customers. If you're not treating them as the gold they are, someone else likely will.