Today’s business landscape can often feel like a conveyor belt of “unicorn” companies getting funded at billion-dollar valuations, acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars, or successfully offered on the stock market. But, when you discover that 80 percent of companies die within their first year of inception, you realize how rare these success stories are.
Probably the most common misconception about the fastest growing companies is the swiftness in which they grow. Anyone who has started a company will be the first to tell you it is a long game. Most people want to believe in the Cinderella story, but the most influential entrepreneurs commonly joke about their “10-year overnight success.” In fact, half of all companies on the inc. 5000 list were started over 10 years ago.
When setting out to start an eCommerce company there will be no shortage of prescriptions for success and paid subscriptions that promise to get you there. But before you start building an empire, we find it best to learn from the companies currently succeeding.
We looked at 1,100 eCommerce businesses from the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies. Using BuiltWith to identify the technologies used on websites, unveiling which eCommerce tools, shipping providers, analytics software, and other technologies are propelling the fastest growing eCommerce companies.
With Facebook and Google used by billions of people every day, it’s not surprising to see their advertising tools disproportionately used by growing companies. You have probably seen these advertisements on your search results page and news feed, but there are other advertising tactics you may not be familiar with. DoubleClick from Google is a powerful platform that allows you to track individual consumer behavior and serve ads to them based on their browsing behavior. Platforms like AdRoll are effective retargeting tools to remind a previous customer or site visitor of your product or service.
While having shopping cart functionality is an obvious prerequisite to be considered an eCommerce business, most companies choose to utilize the robust functionality from platforms like Shopify and Magento. These toolkits offer you, the entrepreneur, a dashboard of real-time management analytics of your inventory, conversions, and revenue. Many of these eCommerce suites also include 3rd party application integrations to add even more functionality to your storefront.
The balance between security and ease of financial transaction is crucial to your conversion rates. Apple, Amazon, and PayPal have all simplified the payment process by allowing consumers to store their account information in trusted databases and purchase with the click of a button on your site. Since millions of consumers already have their credit card on file with Amazon, it makes it extremely convenient and consumers trust their information is secure.
Shipping costs and logistics are one of the most important factors in eCommerce as more and more customers have come to expect free shipping and timely delivery. Shipping providers have been forced into extremely competitive pricing models to maintain market share and consistently fail to achieve brand loyalty because it ultimately comes down to price.
Learning and staying attuned to how site visitors successfully convert into customers is another high-priority function of fast-growing companies. With conversion rate standards across the industry averaging 1 to 3 percent, there is very little margin for error. Analytics allow you to monitor how minor changes in your sales copy, advertisements, and pricing can influence your revenue.
During our research, we noticed successful eCommerce stores using tools you may also want to consider. Many growing companies have email marketing engagement using MailChimp, Mandrill, and Sendgrid. There is also popularity around tools that provide direct chat support, customer reviews, and security. For example, over 13 percent of the fastest growing eCommerce brands are using Zendesk chat, a live chat tool for customers actively browsing a site.
We noticed during this study that the most successful eCommerce brands typically are not as unique in their approach as one might imagine. It is very similar to any other formulaic discipline, like popular story plots in movies and chord progressions in music, follow the structure that has been proven to work and your chances of success are far greater. While being a contrarian in business is great when differentiating your product from competitors, the toolbox to sell your product online will likely be strikingly similar.
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