Recent estimates suggest there may be up to 24 million eCommerce sites worldwide, with hundreds more joining the ranks every day. Of that number, less than a million have revenue above $1,000 per year and only a small percentage makes a true profit.
What’s the difference between successful and unsuccessful eCommerce businesses? Planning.
To make a profit in your eCommerce venture, it’s essential to deeply understand your business, its place in the market and its unique challenges. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what eCommerce really is, along with its six pillars and comprehensive tips for scaling over time.
What is Ecommerce Business Scaling?
Ecommerce business scaling refers to growing an online store with no physical shopping location. By leveraging powerful customer experiences, businesses are able to increase customer base, product purchases, size, and much more.
Ecommerce’s biggest deviation from the traditional business model is its online format, making growth easier to achieve. However, this also requires an understanding of other major differences between online and traditional commerce operations:
- Ecommerce products are typically found through online searches, making proper marketing essential.
- Goods may be purchased regardless of the time or location, which highlights the need for streamlined shipments.
- Thanks to its online format, eCommerce businesses usually have reduced overhead (but it must be managed properly).
Scaling The Four Types Of Ecommerce Business Models
Ecommerce business models must be scaled using an integrated approach to software and automation.
B2B: Business to Business
The B2B market is the largest segment of eCommerce, with more than five times the number of B2C companies. This group focuses on making transactions from one business to another. HubSpot and Salesforce are examples of B2B eCommerce and this model requires extensive workflow automation to scale.
B2C: Business to Consumer
Considered to be the most traditional eCommerce model, B2C companies sell goods directly to a consumer demographic. Both Amazon and Walmart fall into this category and better customer experiences are paramount for growth.
C2C: Consumer to Consumer
Consumer to consumer models build platforms for customers to interchange goods between themselves. Two of the best examples of this are eBay and Craigslist. Excellent customer service and response times help to grow this type of eCommerce model.
C2B: Consumer to Business
This model supports freelancers or contractors looking to provide their services to other businesses. For example, freelance sites like UpWork or Dribbble let users post their work for companies to bid on. The use of powerful software is often the best way to scale this business model.
All forms of eCommerce businesses are scalable using a similar strategy. Having the right software or system in place is an important part of enhancing customer experience at scale, as well as avoiding its unique challenges. Speaking of which…
What are Unique Challenges of Ecommerce Businesses?
The eCommerce market circumvents the traditional setbacks of brick-and-mortar businesses, such as rent and certain running costs, but it still faces its fair share of challenges:
- Price management is essential: 60% of consumers list price as their number one factor for purchase decision making.
- Security problems or data breaches reduce customer trust: 80% of customers leave a business if their information is compromised.
- Poor customer experience prevents leads from buying products: nearly 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned before purchase and, on average, just 2% of site traffic will convert into paying customers.
In the eCommerce world, business processes change in the blink of an eye. Simply adding more products, a new sales channel, or additional team members can change workflows entirely. In order to scale your business as quickly as possible, you’ll need to balance order management, shipping returns, and email conversations without mistakes. In order words: you need to provide an excellent customer experience, and a proactive eCommerce solution can help with this.
The Backbone of Your Ecommerce Brand: Customer Experience
A positive customer experience should never be underestimated. Customers who aren’t repeatedly engaged, don’t receive regular communications, or are brushed off when asking questions are highly unlikely to make another purchase. On the flip side, regular interactions with empathy and personalization can keep consumers interested in what you offer.
So it stands to reason that if you can’t deliver a consistently positive experience, you could be setting yourself up to fail. By investing in engaging, friendly, flexible customer services, your eCommerce business could join the ranks of profitable businesses around the world.
What are the Six Pillars of Customer Experience?
Creating an internal strategy to support your customers’ experience starts with understanding customer motivations, values, and purchasing decisions. These can be modeled in your eCommerce business using:
- Time & Effort
These six pillars of customer experience aren’t just nice-to-have considerations; they’re vital for growing your eCommerce business. Intersecting strategy with data develops businesses at scale, leading to more opportunities and higher profit margins.
How to Do Ecommerce: Tips for Scaling an Ecommerce Business With Success
As you scale up your eCommerce strategy, keep these eight tips in mind.
Establish Your Target Customer
Target customers allow you to easily sift through orders and pay closer attention to potential buyers. Do what you can to identify behaviors, common interests, feedback, or positive and negative feelings that greatly influence customers and their interactions with your business.
Start identifying your target customer by:
- Creating a customer persona
- Analyzing your competition
- Sharpening demographic research
Find a Reliable Ecommerce Platform
The right eCommerce platform could make the difference between success and failure. Factors such as speed, ease of use, reliability, and customer support are essential considerations if you want your store to be appealing to visitors and encourage repeat customers.
Shopify and Amazon are both popular and reliable eCommerce platforms that offer many elements needed for running a modern business. They’re not the only options, but no matter what platform you choose, be sure you have access to:
Find The Right Vendors for Your Product
Your vendors shouldn’t just provide products for your eCommerce store; they must also be able to meet demand in a timely, professional manner. It’s recommended to act as a mystery shopper and order products from them anonymously; this will allow you to monitor their communication, delivery time, and product quality.
It’s also possible that as you grow, you need to move to a different vendor that can handle the increased demand. One way to reduce the headache from this is to stress test your vendors from the outset – Ask them what level of orders they can process and in what timeframe. By knowing what their ceiling is, you’ll have a good idea of when it’s time to start exploring bigger vendors as you grow.
Utilize ERP Software to Automate and Streamline Processes
ERP, or enterprise resource planning software, is a great way to manage common business processes in real time. Its primary function includes tracking resources, business commitments, payments, and other aspects of project management. Use software that integrates a big-picture view of your supply chain to assist in eCommerce growth.
When hunting for good ERP software, look for a platform that offers:
- Workflow automations
- Streamlining services
- Simple integrations
A system that aggregates must-have tools into a single place saves a large amount of time and money that can be reinvested into the business. This isn’t just conjecture: almost 90% of business managers believe that their ERP integrations have helped them succeed.
Develop a Social Media Marketing Strategy
A social media strategy is an excellent means of generating positive customer engagement, deepening the relationship between buyers and your brand. By benefiting from free advertising through social shares, you can work on scaling your eCommerce business while you sleep.
There’s more to social media than simply sharing updates though. It’s also an excellent way to communicate with your audience, tease new product launches, get feedback on your range, and target new shoppers. It’s even possible to show retargeting adverts to people who have previously been on your site, boosting sales and revenue by staying in the minds of people who have already shown interest in your store.
Social Listen for Vital Feedback
More than 50% of marketers have used social listening to gather information about their customers. In the world of eCommerce, social listening can be defined as:
- Gathering data about your target customer and audience
- Analyzing said customer data and buying habits
- Implementing findings to improve business operations
In addition to social listening, eCommerce professionals should also keep a close eye on the industry and its current trends. As the future of online shopping continues to change, so should your business strategy.
Optimize for Higher Conversions Along the Way
As you listen to feedback from your customers, consider new ways to optimize conversions. Truthfully, interactions on your website can be very telling about business flow, customer decisions, and UX design. Is your site navigation too confusing? Are visitors overwhelmed with choices? As you gather insights,you can make relevant changes that improve your chances of converting customers over time.
Quick Tips for Scaling Your Online Ecommerce Business
The difference between a stagnant eCommerce business and one that thrives is dependent on its scaling strategy. As your business continues to grow and take shape, it will be important to position it in a sustainable manner. Lean on these quick business tips.
Scale your online eCommerce business by using the basics:
- Develop a robust target buyer persona
- Fine-tune your eCommerce platform and site
- Research new and compatible vendor opportunities
- Transition to ERP software for better company management
- Streamline integrations and tools
- Increase your social media output
- Solicit, gather, and organize consumer feedback
- Run A/B tests for new insights
Starting your eCommerce business off on the right foot begins with sourcing powerful tools tailored to your needs. For additional tips about how to run an online business, or to ask about potential automations for your ERP workflow, get in touch with Xentral today.