4 Things To Consider Before Expanding Your eCommerce Business
Is your eCommerce business ready for expansion? If so, congratulations! You’ve traveled farther than 80 percent of startups that never got off the ground.
Now, it’s time for a little self-analysis. Get together with your team and ask:
- Are the consumers in our target audience hungry for change?
- Is the demand for our product large enough to support expansion at this time?
- Are we able and ready to meet the demands of business growth?
If the answer to these questions is, “Yes, bring it on,” you’re ready to grow your online business.
However, before you consider expanding your platform further, you need a plan to manage the growth.
Perform a Detailed Data Analysis
First, determine what expansion means to your company.
Is the goal to gain new ground in global retail, to improve your financial outlook, or do you want to make your current product line more successful?
Once you’ve identified the motivation, you need to create the means.
Analyze data to gain a clear picture of what’s working and where you can improve your efforts.
Which metrics mean the most to your bottom line and future growth, and how will you use this analysis to reach your expansion goals?
Improve Your eCommerce Merchandising
Web-based companies offer advantages and disadvantages over brick-and-mortar stores. They’re more convenient, sure, and less bound by geographic location.
However, they also lack the tactile sensations that drive sales in the real world.
To compensate for the shortcomings that are built into digital marketing and commerce, you need innovation and creative merchandising.
Each portion of your website should be designed with visual merchandising that draws attention in a positive way. You also want to relay the story of your brand in a manner that connects with visitors on an emotional level.
Start with a homepage that tells customers who you are and why they should give you their time, attention, and money. Include simple imagery that shows what your product is, how it works, and what it can do for the consumer.
Supplement this with an engaging story that connects with your audience and addresses their pain points. Offer social proof through testimonials.
Unless you’re in a specialty niche, your product or service pages should suggestively upsell or cross-sell products.
This is a more subtle, nuanced approach that allows you to demonstrate how items in your product line complement and enhance each other. You can accomplish this by highlighting the benefits of collections based on product groupings.
Put the focus on one main product and secondary or accessory items that add value to the shopping and ownership experience.
In addition to product imagery that ties collections together, add an image carousel below the fold on product pages showing similar items that the visitor might be interested in.
Include user reviews from actual customers, and add an FAQ section to provide supplementary information about product uses, specs, and capabilities.
You can personalize the experience by showing your brand through the eyes of the audience. Use high-quality images that depict your ideal customer enjoying your brand.
Better yet, encourage customers to submit photos of themselves enjoying your products. This gets them involved, and it promotes a major driver in sales, the fear of missing out (FOMO).
A considerable part of business growth is achieved by creating brand loyalty. You want to move your audience beyond mere consumers to create enthusiastic brand advocates.
This is accomplished through concepts like:
- Providing added value with each interaction and sale. This can be achieved through activities like creating customer loyalty programs or offering discounts and other incentives
- Improving customer experience through intelligent website design and layouts that are user-friendly, functional, and aesthetically pleasing
- Increased, targeted social outreach and customer engagement
- Proactive reputation management
- Prioritizing accessible and responsive customer care
Implement an Efficient Inventory Management System
Increasing your customer base and reach means nothing if you can’t handle the growth through effective management. When you have double or triple the orders coming in, you need to make sure you can honor the increased demand.
That means you need to find and implement an efficient inventory management system (IMS) that is tailored towards your needs, goals, and business model. This will eliminate waste and redundancy, help identify trends, and allow you to predict future needs.
The best management systems use automation to integrate systems, provide real-time information, and support reliable, accurate data analysis.
If you’re applying the 80/20 rule to your inventory and stock allocation, a solid IMS will allow you to identify your priorities and focus your efforts on the 20 percent of your stock that generates the most revenue.
Evaluate and Resolve Financial Considerations
Business expansion doesn’t come without a price tag. Ideally, a portion of your profits is reinvested into your business already. But, are you fiscally independent enough to finance a huge expansion, or will you have to borrow?
Expansion can be funded without incurring an exorbitant amount of debt. If you need capital, there are grants and low-interest business loans available. You can also take on a partner if your business model and financial forecast are attractive enough to lure like-minded investors.
eCommerce is a global, multi-billion dollar industry. Even when you have a physical location, an eCommerce platform should be part of your business model. Whether you’re expanding regionally or you’re ready to stake your claim in the global marketplace, careful planning is essential for sustainable growth.
Are you ready to convert mere browsers into long-term customers and attract new business? Our goal is to provide you with actionable recommendations that will allow you to leverage your momentum and move your business forward.
The future belongs to eCommerce. We’ll help you meet the challenges head-on.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.