If you want a successful ecommerce business, you need to know what you’re getting into. Understanding the landscape of today’s ecommerce businesses is key to succeeding in an ever more saturated marketplace, because the barriers to entry are low and getting lower every year. Creating a business is easier than it’s ever been — creating a successful business, though, especially on a large scale, is hard.
Last year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest ecommerce day in history, with eight billion in revenue flowing through online sources. Amazon accounts for a huge chunk of that, though, and smaller players are starting to get squeezed out in some areas.
To succeed, it takes more acumen and more application of the fundamentals of ecommerce, as well as knowing some of the secrets and tips that make the most successful businesses run.
Here are some key takeaways from eight-figure ecommerce entrepreneurs on how any business can succeed in the online space:
1) Build An Audience
Where is your audience? These days, the answer is increasingly: everywhere.
Social media platforms, search engines, voice search, email, chat … you name it, there’s a customer you’ll find who has one of these as their preferred method of discovery. The proliferation of ways to get in contact with businesses means you have to have a presence everywhere.
To build a dedicated following that will engage with you no matter where they start, you have to create an omni-channel experience — one that seamlessly allows users to switch between devices and platforms while interacting with you. Businesses with omni-channel strategies have 91 percent better year-over-year customer retention than those that don’t.
You’re trying to create a base of customers, not just one-time buyers. Make it easy for them. That’s key to any successful large-scale ecommerce enterprise.
2) Use Social Engagement To Your Advantage
You absolutely have to engage with your customers on social media. And it’s shocking how many businesses don’t.
89 percent of businesses ignore social media messages to their accounts.
That’s staggering. And it’s a shame, because those companies are missing out on a powerful tool that can make their marketing more effective and boost their sales.
Engaging with customers on social media is a chance to humanize your brand, building a personal connection in a way that’s not really possible in other contexts. It’s particularly important for younger consumers, who are more likely to be active on social media.
3) Use CRO To Consistently Optimize Your Website
As you go forward in your business, you might want to focus on increasing the traffic that comes to your website. That’s all well and good, but if you’re not focusing on optimizing your conversion rates, you’re going to see limited returns form the traffic you get.
Conversion rate optimization is absolutely key in making the most of the prospects that come to your website. There’s a limit to how many people you’ll be able to attract, especially as the ecommerce sector gets more saturated.
You’ll be working on cannibalizing each other’s customers — see the cell phone industry for an example of this, as it is hammered by price wars in a mature, saturated market.
If you’re working on converting the prospects that come to your site into customers, you’re able to make the most of what advertising, marketing, organic SEO and social media can do for you. Work smarter, not just harder.
4) Know What You’re Paying For Logistics … And Why
Logistic costs dropped slightly in 2016 for the first time since 2009, but they’re rising again. It costs more to ship, shipping volume is higher, and carriers are taking advantage of a seller’s market to up prices.
Platforms and companies that offer a transparent look at your logistics costs are stepping into a void created by these costs, offering a chance at a better ROI on shipping.
ShipBob, ShipMonk and Flexport all offer platforms and services that help you get a handle on logistics, and the sector will probably see more competitors as logistics becomes a more crucial part of every business.
With turnkey solutions and shipping services filling the gaps in your knowledge and keeping all your logistics information in one place, it’s easier to cut down on the costs and maximize your efficiency. That pays dividends in customer satisfaction as well as the bottom line.
5) Get Your Supply Chain Right — The First Time Around
A bad supply chain impacts every sector of your business. You’ll be at the mercy of the bullwhip effect, and you’ll probably be dealing with either shortage or surplus at all times.
In addition, with longer lead times and more and more manufacturing going overseas, a bad supply chain can cause you to hemorrhage customers because of slower response times and lack of stock.
The back end of your business is constantly leaking money if your supply chain isn’t optimized. The best ecommerce brands focus on making sure their supply is locked in first, then dealing with everything else.
94 percent of organizations say that digital transformation will fundamentally change supply chains. But only 44 percent have a plan for how to get there. If you can get ahead of the curve here, there’s a market inefficiency that you can take advantage of.
It’s easy to start an ecommerce business, but it’s hard to make a successful one. With tips like these gleaned from the personal experiences of ecommerce founders, any company can find success in the growing ecommerce universe.