7 Smart Tips To Help Scale Your eCommerce Business

by Lauren Schneidewind on January 10, 2017

E-commerce is the fastest growing retail market in the world. Online store owners should prepare for rapid growth not connected with a holiday shopping rush. According to Forrester Research Inc., U.S. online sales are expected to reach $523 billion by 2020, which is up 56% from $335 billion in 2015.

You might be surprised to learn: if possible, it’s best to have slower growth that’s manageable. Otherwise, you will need to over-purchase, over-hire or in other words – spend all your cash flow on what the industry calls keeping the scale up. However, what happens if you fail to prepare your online store for growth? That could lead to the collapse of your business, and you may lose everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Here’s what you can do to scale your business in the most seamless and painless way, so you are ready for growth.

Tip #1: A functional website is better than just a pretty one.

Focus on developing the technical abilities of your website, instead of just how it looks. To do that, pay attention to performance. You can easily change the design, but you cannot do the same with the information available on it. If required, hire a programming firm to help customize the e-commerce template you use.

Tip #2: Take care of your website’s content.

Analyze your website’s existing content and if necessary, make it more professional. The goal is informative but also engaging. Of course, one of the key features of website content is its relevance to your business and brand. Don’t forget to review the product descriptions, as well as their photos. Update them to create the best experience for your customers.

Tip #3: Marketing is a necessity.

Creating and launching strong marketing campaigns is necessary for your online business growth. Even if you have a satisfying number of customers who are buying your products, you should still create and implement a professionally crafted marketing strategy. Two of the top e-commerce marketing methods are social media and email marketing. Use social media to connect better to your existing and prospective customers and apply email marketing to keep the relationship alive.

Tip #4: Use a professional service for picking, packing and shipping orders.

Even if you started selling online while sitting at your kitchen table, packing all the boxes and printing all the labels, when your business grows you need to hire professionals. Consider utilizing a fulfillment service to take care of picking, packing and shipping orders. Such a service will increase the number of customers your business can handle, and allow you to focus on strategy. Moreover, you will be able to save money on shipping costs and save time usually spent on ordering packaging, paying for postage service and driving to and from shipment offices to send packages.

Tip #5: Use branded packaging to engage your current and future customers.

Invest in branded products such as boxes with your company colors and logo, to achieve a memorable customer experience. It also encourages shoppers to come back to your store. Moreover, having your business branded products can protect your website brand and secure your profit margins.

Tip #6: Offer customer service beyond expectations.

It’s simple – if you have customers, you will have business. However, if your customers are not satisfied with the speed and quality of your service, they will run to your competitors. Customers are happy when you offer them great product availability, fast logistics, and perfect fulfillment. Customer service is such a dominant factor in achieving growth in online sales that the prediction is by the year 2020 it will overtake such key brand differentiators as price and product.

Tip #7: Be smart when hiring new employees.

Naturally, when you have scaled the areas of production, operation, and marketing, hiring is next. While it might be difficult to forecast how many new employees you need in the future, it’s better to focus on hiring fewer high-quality employees than many mediocre ones. Try to surround yourself with highly professional employees with long-term dedication to your business.

While this article outlines some of the biggest challenges of growth that an e-commerce business owner could face, there are much more. Most important is to make sure that each area of your business is mature and flexible, in order to successfully meet the challenges of scale.

Small e-commerce companies can learn from the experience of companies ready for growth to find their own, unique combination of processes, knowledge, and techniques. You will be able to remain lean and agile during the exciting but sometimes painful process of growing.

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