eCommerce business scalability: The dos and don'ts to keep in mind
Consumers are rapidly adopting online shopping for purchases that used to be made in person.
eCommerce businesses are booming in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 2021, e-commerce sales account for more than 14% of all retail sales around the world. What's more, this percentage is predicted to rise to 22% by 2023, so it's clear that e-commerce has a bright future ahead.
As the popularity of e-commerce rises, so too does the number of your competitors. This means you need to know how to scale your e-commerce business in a sustainable and productive manner, in order to stay ahead of the competition.
What does it mean to scale your e-commerce business?
When we refer to scaling your e-commerce business, what we really mean is the creation of a stable foundation, upon which your e-commerce business can grow, in a manageable fashion, without fear of collapse. Scalability is no quick or easy feat; it requires plenty of time, energy, resources, and commitment.
However, the importance of ensuring you can safely scale your e-commerce business cannot be understated. Without putting measures in place for your business to grow, you risk stagnation and, ultimately, reduced sales and a lower retention rate for customers.
Developing a plan to scale your e-commerce business
When it comes to developing a plan for scaling your e-commerce business, there are a few things you need to remember.
Firstly, remember to be realistic with the goals you set out regarding your business's growth. We all want our e-commerce sites to be the next big viral hit that offers brand partnerships left, right, and centre... but the sad reality is that this is incredibly unlikely to happen.
- Take note of your current profit margins and assess how broad you wish to scale-out
- Keep your business values at the heart of your plans to scale up
- Research competitor e-commerce businesses that have successfully scaled
- Ensure you have a solid support structure in place, both for the business and personally
- Establish your limits as much as your goals - both are equally important
What to do when scaling your e-commerce business
When you recognise that you're ready to scale your e-commerce business, here are some of the methods that you can implement in order to grow visibility and revenue.
Marketing & Customer Experience
Firstly, spread the word about your e-commerce business. There is no doubt this is something you've done already upon setting up your business, but steady and consistent promotion is key to gaining new customers, and staying in the minds of existing ones. After all, new customers are more likely to be enticed to purchase your product or services if your business name sticks in their minds.
Next, you want to focus on your customers. Put yourself in their shoes. Ultimately, the customers are the people keeping your e-commerce business afloat, and delighting them will encourage word of mouth promotion - the strongest form of marketing.
You need to summarise what your customers need to see or gain in order for them to continue (or give!) their patronage. Whether it's a better shopping and delivery experience, new product, increased communication channels (such as via social media), or an enticing promotion - Putting customer satisfaction at the heart of your e-commerce scaling is a good priority to have.
Never underestimate the power of streamlined systems. To successfully scale-up you need the foundations of your business, the processes, strategies and systems, to be set in stone and as automatic as possible. Consider how each process from marketing & restocking to returns will function under the load of increased visitors and sales.
While it can be difficult to have the trust to relinquish daily duties to others. Acknowledging that outsourcing jobs to the people and companies that are experts at what they do, will allow you to focus on your companies core strengths and rapidly scale without becoming overloaded.
These areas can easily be outsourced, freeing up time for what you do best:
- Product Photography
- Web Development & SEO
- Inventory Management and Order Fulfilment
For example Bezos.ai can handle your order fulfilment from warehousing to returns. We have used our expertise to build a comprehensive service with no minimum volumes so that you can start small, but as you grow our global network of fulfilment centres will support your increased order volumes through a single account. You will still have full visibility into what is happening and the data you want, but all of the complexities are handled for you.
Challenges faced by an e-commerce business
As an e-commerce business owner, it's true that there is untapped potential for growth. However, there are a number of challenges often faced by an e-commerce business, that it's integral you do your best to overcome if you wish to successfully scale your business.
Finding a Niche
For one, you must find the right balance between a niche enough product or service to stand out, and one broad enough to have an audience large enough to generate the required sales to remain profitable. The issue of identifying most opportune products and markets can be confusing or difficult, especially if you don't have a history of business ventures. It’s important to have self-discipline and accept that not every possibility can be explored. It is much better to focus on one area that you know well than to diversify and lose focus early on.
There's also the issue of converting potential customers into new customers and then retaining their loyalty. This is where the importance of prioritising your customers during the planning phase is crucial. Studies show that customer needs are changing in favour of more personalised experiences, meaning that they are going to give their hard-earned money to those e-commerce businesses that demonstrate a commitment to their patrons, and perform above expectation. It is recommended to regularly test and analyse the entire customer journey to find the weak points that could be improved.
Overall, the most important thing to remember about scaling your business is that it must remain sustainable. Ensure that the financial plan is well established and you have enough runway to keep trading under unforeseen circumstances. You don't want your costs to outweigh your profits, and you don't want to have to make choices that result in a loss of customers. You need to keep your business at the forefront of your target audiences' minds and have a consistent online presence that translates into direct sales.
Do all this, and your e-commerce is likely to scale with success. Operate your e-commerce business with confidence, but ensure that you are consistently evaluating the needs and next steps required for your business to grow.
If you want to commit more time to assess and scale your business, leave your order fulfilment to us here at Bezos.ai. We provide reliable integrated fulfilment for more than 30 different channels and marketplaces, across our global network of fulfilment centres so that all of your orders are managed through a single streamlined service.