It is excruciatingly difficult to put a newly started ecommerce business on its legs, especially if you do it on a limited budget. It is, therefore, no wonder that ecommerce business owners tend to relax a bit once their store is up and running and pulling in regular revenue from month to month.
And while this is common, it is also a huge mistake. Once you have stabilized your ecommerce business, you cannot just sit back and watch the money pour in. This is the time for action that will, if you play your cards right, help your company grow, attract new customers and become a truly stable business.
It takes a lot to manage a growing ecommerce business, but with some smart moves and careful maneuvering, you can ensure that your company grows even further.
1. Know Your Limits
It is more likely than not that you started your ecommerce business on your own, perhaps with a friend or two. You probably did this because you couldn’t afford to hire anyone else and because you wanted to stay in control over every aspect of running your company.
When you are still just trying to survive, this is good enough. You can handle your orders, fulfillment, a bit of marketing, a bit of accounting.
After a while, however, this becomes impossible. As your average number of daily shoppers increases and as you start making (and spending) more money, it becomes overwhelming.
Now, some ecommerce business owners decide to continue doing it on their own, only to find out that it is impossible to do it. They don’t think they have any limits and they burn out from the insane amount of work they have to do on a daily basis.
Know your limits. Your limits go beyond the amount of work you can put in. Your knowledge and your skills are also limited and trying to ignore them is the surest way to total failure.
If your profits allow it, think about hiring full-time employees in marketing, fulfillment or wherever you need help. Consider freelancers or even interns. Think about outsourcing or automation.
Just make sure you understand you cannot do everything. A growing ecommerce business requires more than a single person can handle. It’s simple math.
2. Invest in your Website
For the most part, newly opened ecommerce stores feature a very simple and basic website. They are usually launched using one of the templates provided by ecommerce platforms such as Shopify or WooCommerce. These websites all look alike and they have limited options and features.
In the early days, this works because it cuts down the costs and enables easy maintenance and modification.
However, as your ecommerce business grows, you need more. You need a website that will stand apart and that will enable your customers to have the best possible experience imaginable. You will want to offer them features they do not get at a run-of-the-mill website. You will want to make them remember your website.
Because of this, you will want to talk to some ecommerce web design professionals and find out what they can do for you. In collaboration with them, you will decide on the design and the functionality of your new website, still making sure that it is recognizable and that you do not experience any significant downtime when switching to the new website.
3. Boost your Marketing Efforts
For a newly opened online store, every dollar spent on marketing has to make another dollar and make it as soon as possible. This is why the majority of ecommerce businesses start off with paid ads on Google, Facebook or Instagram (these are the most important three). It is the surest way to get an ecommerce store in front of new people and, what is equally as important, the quickest way.
However, as your ecommerce business grows, you will want to start expanding your marketing arsenal, reaching even more people and achieving certain long-term results.
For one, you will want to start doing email marketing as soon as possible as it is still a fantastic way to not only attracting new customers, but also boosting customer loyalty and increasing the lifetime value of your customers. With email marketing software like Retainly, this has been made easier than ever before.
You might also want to consider content marketing that will further differentiate your brand from other ecommerce companies in the same niche and help you become more visible in search engines. You could also look into influencer marketing (be careful though) and SMS text marketing if you really want to diversify your marketing efforts.
The important thing is not to get complacent and do the same thing you have been doing since day 1.
4. Consider Selling on Marketplaces
Marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay have become such huge players that many shoppers start their search for products on one of these two marketplaces. This is a trend that will continue in the future and the sooner you realize this, the better.
Many ecommerce business owners are apprehensive of selling on these marketplaces because they fear this will cut into their direct revenue and dilute their brand. And while this is somewhat the case, it should be pointed out that these marketplaces also offer another channel through which you can reach new customers who might have never heard of you any other way.
Of course, you will have to be smart and careful about selling on eBay and Amazon, but many ecommerce businesses have dramatically increased their customer base by being present there. This is especially true if you sell your own products and other people cannot undercut you with the same products by offering them cheaper.
If nothing else, consider this as an option.
5. Find Balance
Regardless of what you decide to do or not do with your growing ecommerce business (which can involve one or more of the aforementioned tips), it is absolutely essential that you find the balance between introducing changes and staying recognizable.
For example, as you start hiring people to help you with various aspects of running your business, you need to make sure that your company culture does not suffer and that your old customers still feel that they are doing business with the same company. Or, if you decide to do an overhaul on your website, you need to ensure that it is not diametrically different from what it was before.
Familiarity is essential if you want to have long-term relationships with your customers and you definitely want that.
Moreover, if you do not find balance when introducing structural changes to your company, you might end up with a business that is becoming increasingly difficult to run and that will encounter a string of problems down the line.
Keep in mind this is just scratching the surface. Running a successful growing ecommerce business is incredibly difficult and there are so many ways in which you can make a mess of it. The important thing is that you stay engaged and that you see this growth period for what it is – an unprecedented opportunity.