What are the qualities that separate the best e-commerce businesses from the rest? Obviously, the first of those qualities is ambition. No matter what your current sales volume might be, there is an almost 100-percent chance that you’d like your volume to be even higher. Ambition alone, however, doesn’t get the job done – you also need to be willing to do the work necessary to get your company ahead. More importantly, though, you need to do the right work – and that’s where this article comes in.
So, why do some e-commerce companies seem to rise effortlessly to the top while the others languish in the middle of the pack? Some of the answers might surprise you.
Willingness to Change with the Demands of the Customer Base
One of the first things you must realize as an e-commerce business owner is that your job isn’t to sell the products that you want to sell. You need to sell the products that your customers demand – and if you’re in an industry that’s rapidly evolving, the demands of your customer base may change rapidly over time. When it became clear that the demand for synthetic nicotine vape juice was going to outpace the demand for all other types of e-liquid, for instance, top vape shop VapeJuice.com quickly pivoted its product selection to meet the demand. Agility is one of the most important qualities that any e-commerce business can have; you must be willing and able to pivot when your customers demand it.
Adaptation to the New Standard of Omnichannel Marketing
You’re almost certainly already aware that success in e-commerce depends on your ability to establish awareness among those who aren’t yet your customers and to stay top of mind among those who have purchased from you. One of the things that you may not have thought about a great deal, though, is that where your customers and prospective customers currently are isn’t necessarily the same as where they were several years ago.
These days, people often ignore most of the marketing messages that they see on their computers. Sometimes, they don’t even see advertisements at all because they’re using ad blockers. Mobile marketing has become more important than ever, and many companies are now reaching their customers via real-time alerts and text messages rather than using standard email newsletters and banner ads.
The same trend also applies to social media. Does your company still spend a significant portion of its advertising budget on the production and promotion of Facebook content? You’ll continue to see dwindling engagement month after month if you don’t go where your prospective customers are – and there’s a good chance that they aren’t spending the majority of their time on Facebook.
Successful online marketing is more complex now than ever before, and it’s no longer just a matter of bidding on AdWords keywords and waiting for the business to come in. True omnichannel marketing means being where your customers are and following them across devices and platforms. Thankfully, software solutions are available that can automate much of the work for you.
Implementation of Strong Branding and Messaging
One of the greatest things about the e-commerce industry today is that there’s a much lower barrier to entry than there once was. Even if you only have the smallest of shoestring budgets, you can still register a domain and start selling products online for almost nothing. All that you need is an e-commerce platform and something to sell, and e-commerce platforms are cheap or free for small startups.
Now that your business has been running for a while, though, have you ever stopped to evaluate your company objectively against its competition? Are you still using the logo that you paid a college student on Fiverr to make? Are you still using a free Shopify or WordPress theme? In short, does your website look virtually the same as every other site in the same industry?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, there’s a good chance that your company’s branding and messaging aren’t nearly as powerful as they need to be. Building an effective e-commerce site requires you to maintain a difficult balance. If your site doesn’t look distinct from the other websites in your industry, no one is going to remember your company’s name after they’ve left. At the same time, though, no e-commerce site should require an instruction manual. People who have never seen your website before should intuitively know how to use it.
If your e-commerce business has been around long enough that it now has a bit of revenue coming in, now would be a great time to think about bringing on web developers, artists and content writers to give your company the powerful branding it needs.
Aggressive Maximization of Supply Chain Efficiency
You’ve obviously heard the old axiom that “it takes money to make money.” Success in e-commerce isn’t cheap, and you’re going to have to make significant investments at every step if you want to rise to the top. One of the problems that you’ve undoubtedly encountered as an e-commerce business owner, though, is that your supply chain and order fulfillment costs only seem to move in one direction: up. That’s been particularly true since 2020, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains in every industry.
When your supply chain and order fulfillment costs go up, your first reaction might be to assume that other businesses are also dealing with the same problem and that all you can do is either absorb the increased costs or pass those costs on to your customers. Well, it’s time to change your mindset.
Start by auditing your supply chain. Do you purchase your products from a distributor, and are there other distributors that carry the same products? Do you build your products at a factory, and are there competing factories that you could use instead? If your suppliers have competition, you can use that to your advantage by negotiating your price structures more aggressively.
You should also audit your order fulfillment process. Is it possible for you to implement new processes that would make it possible to ship orders more quickly and with less labor? Could you be using a less expensive carrier? Are you using efficient boxes and packing materials, or are you paying to ship large volumes of air to your customers? If you look for ways to aggressively reduce your expenses, you can significantly increase your business’s profitability.