If you are responsible for your businesses’ ecommerce store, then you are responsible for ensuring the return on the infrastructure investment as quickly as possible. Besides making sure you have a great online store, the best way to make sure you’re optimising your sales opportunity is to invest in upfront planning on these three things.
Why getting initial returns is so hard
When you extend your business with an ecommerce store, you invest heavily in technology and ecommerce infrastructure.
You’re incredibly focused on the site - its functionality, its design, how the products appear - and you absolutely love it. It’s the best online store you’ve ever seen.
But, you’re so exhausted from tidying up your inventory and product descriptions, you didn’t think about how the standard in-store returns policies will play online.
You’ve invested heaps in your online home but haven’t got time (or money) left to reach new audiences through marketing. And this is before you’ve thought about the new tasks having an online store has added to your business. Shipping, inventory management, customer communications...
Whether it’s a new or existing store, it’s a trap that businesses regularly fall into.
Step away from the code.
There are other things you can look at to optimise sales through your store.
Automation and integration
How much of your store runs itself? Technical integration and automation of processes - where one system talks to another - is typically well considered in the creation of an ecommerce solution. But it’s astounding how many manual processes still sneak into day-to-day operations.
And it’s not just on the “tech” side. Consider how you could automate communications. An email that automatically pulls the best selling items of the week, fortnight or month could be automatically sent to subscribers based on their email preferences. Have you automated the way your customers are welcomed to your store as a new customer or subscriber? With a little more planning, you can generate more activity from your business, while letting cloud-based systems take on the work.
Finding a new audience is hard. Time and time again I’ve seen a new ecommerce store launch with no investment in finding its ideal audience. So who knows about the store? Existing customers.
The opportunity has been missed: the online store is cannibalising brick-and-mortar profits.
Yes, great marketing is one way to find new audiences, but so is omnichannel selling. Selling on marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and a plethora of other options gives you access to an in-built audience, who know how to use the platform and are actively looking to buy.
Many ecommerce platforms (such as BigCommerce
) give you the ability to sell directly from your store back-end into these marketplaces. You can set different pricing or descriptions based on your selling strategy - and even use these established marketplaces to test bundles or deals. Then, the customer returns to you. It’s in your hands to convert a one-off buy to a life-long fan, building the audience for your actual store.
This is the big (but often misunderstood) one.
When selling online, we think of customer service as excellent returns or shipping policies. But it’s bigger than that. It’s about how your brand is expressed online, how you communicate with people, and how everything from site design to abandoned cart emails shows off the values of your business.
And give people a unified and unique experience. Your in-store team are trained to greet customers in a certain way, they have a uniform and certain songs they can play in the store. These sell your brand and values. They should be in-sync with your online presence.
While it would be great to dive in and overhaul the various systems and processes at work in your business, that’s rarely achievable or realistic. Luckily, you don’t have to wait until you have the time, money or buy-in for a big project. You can start with simple steps to get prepared.
Start auditing your processes. Get honest about how systems talk to each other, where communication happens and where the gaps are. Talk to your teams about where they find blockages or see time wasted. Be your own customer and think about where communication could and should happen.
Work on one thing at a time. Now you have a list of ‘to-dos’, prioritise your activities based on which will get you to your big business goal, sooner. Ruthless prioritisation and honest planning is the key.
Think ‘planning first’ from now on. If you are creating something new, make sure that you’ve taken the time to consider how compliments or adds to your existing strategies and processes. Gather feedback from different areas to understand potential unintended consequences or hidden opportunities.
Want help to make a start? Whatever phase you’re in, we can help you get started with an audit and discovery report. You don’t always need a big project to get results. A regular, targeted schedule of works based on evidence might just do the trick.