You’ve developed a terrific product line and created a website. You’re selling your products on eCommerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. You’ve got your eCommerce fulfillment in place, and you’re starting to build a base of repeat customers. So how do you make your brand take off? Scaling your eCommerce business and growing from a scrappy startup to an established and respected brand takes consistent effort. Here are some best practices for your next growth phase.
Find the helpers
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”– Fred Rogers
For eCommerce companies, Mr. Rogers’ famous quote might be: “Find the partners.” ECommerce companies can benefit by outsourcing many functions, including customer support, order fulfillment, supply chain management, and SEO. Outsourcing allows even small and mid-sized companies to quickly scale their eCommerce business by adding outside experts to their teams.
If you aren’t ready to hire a full-time CMO or SCM, you can use consultants to help you develop strategies to scale your eCommerce company the right way. You can get professional pick and pack fulfillment instead of running your own warehouse when you outsource to a 3PL. That gives you flexible warehouse space, which is crucial to scaling your eCommerce business.
Base your marketing strategy on evidence
Customer data is one of your most valuable tools for scaling your eCommerce businesses. To grow, you need to base all your decisions — product development, marketing, even fulfillment warehouse locations — on evidence, not guesswork.
Use a tool like Google Analytics or Mixpanel to analyze customer interactions with your website and improve your landing pages. Take advantage of the analytics capabilities of your inventory management software and eCommerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce to learn more about your customers. Leverage third-party data to increase the effectiveness of your PPC marketing campaigns and other digital marketing to reach your target audience.
Taking the time to run analytics on customer locations, buying habits, spending trends, and more will deliver significant rewards for your brand. With enough data and optimization, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the latest trends, provide the merchandise consumers want, and attract new customers to your online store.
Whether you love social media or hate it, it’s essential to building your eCommerce brand. Use YouTube and Instagram to post stories that give insight into your products and drive viewers to your product pages. For example, if you source fabric from an Indigenous women’s collective in Peru, tell the story of your supplier and why it’s important to you to work with them. Create engaging and funny ads, and you might go viral on YouTube or other social media platforms.
Social media is also a fantastic way to connect with your customers on a more personal level. Leverage your social channels to quickly respond to customer service requests, build communities around brand loyalty, and give your followers a sense of your brand personality.
Reach out to influencers and make them part of your marketing strategy. And don’t forget the most useful form of social media for online business owners: customer reviews. Feature reviews in your product listings and social channels. It’s the best social proof to convince potential customers to buy.
Invest in your company by investing the time to create a robust social presence.
Don’t undervalue email marketing
Email may seem old school, but almost 92% of people in the U.S. have email, and the demographic with the highest percent of email users is 25- to 44-year-olds, at over 95%. Simply put, email campaigns work; you should make them part of your customer journey. Regular email contacts can be an effective customer retention tool.
Give shoppers a gift for joining your email list, such as a discount on their first purchase or membership in a loyalty program, and add every buyer to your email marketing list. Email your customers about sales, promotions, new products, or how fun it will be to shop in your online store on Taco Tuesday.
Email retargeting is an excellent way to reduce shopping cart abandonment and draw visitors back to your product pages. Retargeting software automates the process and increases your sales.
Conventional wisdom about marketing was that people needed to see your advertising seven or eight times before your message broke through. In the digital age, you need at least 30 touchpoints, and sometimes more than 100, before a conversion. Reaching consumers on multiple channels increases the chances of converting, so don’t discount the impact of email when you’re scaling your eCommerce business.
Infuse every communication and contact with your brand voice and personality
On social, email, and your various online stores and platforms, infuse your messaging and product descriptions with your brand voice. A relatable persona for your company can play a substantial role in driving conversions and enhancing the customer experience.
Humor can make your brand feel accessible and fun, but it’s far from the only option. You might highlight social or environmental responsibility, a playful vibe, or a sense of history. Whatever approach you pick for your brand, own it and ensure you’re consistent across all your messaging channels, including content marketing, as you scale your eCommerce business.
Don’t skimp on customer support
The quality of customer support often makes the difference between a good consumer products company and a terrific one. Without customer service to create an outstanding customer experience, even the most targeted marketing efforts can fall flat.
Customer support is even more critical for eCommerce brands, where building trust is essential to building a base of loyal customers. You can build trust to overcome even a major snafu like a product recall if you put your customers at the center of your business model.
But the most vital customer service investment is in your day-to-day operations. You can improve your customer experience by offering a chatbot to answer common questions in real time, responding to customer queries quickly, going the extra mile to solve problems, and following up to make sure the customer is happy with the way you solve their issue.
Customer care is more than preserving a single customer relationship; it can turn dissatisfied buyers into loyal customers and brand ambassadors. Every issue requiring personalized help is an opportunity to build stronger consumer relationships.
Scaling your eCommerce business starts with building a loyal and satisfied customer base, but it doesn’t end there. The U.S. is an eCommerce market of over $857 billion, but China is almost $1.5 trillion. And while smaller, the UK, EU countries, Japan, and South Korea all represent significant sales opportunities.
International eCommerce shipping has gotten faster, and cross-border shipping costs have decreased, making it practical to offer your products to a global marketplace. There are still some hurdles to overcome when you expand into international eCommerce, including duties, language barriers, payment methods and currencies, and local customs. But those barriers are becoming easier to overcome as our planet becomes more interlinked, and global eCommerce is one of the best ways to take your business to the next level.
Automation is the secret sauce that helps successful eCommerce business owners grow and scale. Many eCommerce software solutions have free or low-cost levels so you can get started without a big expenditure. Here are just a few ways that automation can help your eCommerce store grow:
- Retargeting software automatically reminds shoppers what they left behind.
- Inventory management apps can track your stock in real time and do everything from creating purchase orders to analyzing seasonal sales trends.
Accounting software can analyze your sales data and help you understand your cash flow and run your business more profitably.
Choose partners that let you focus on scaling your eCommerce business
The key when outsourcing is to look for partners committed to helping you grow your brand. For example, at Red Stag Fulfillment, we know when your business grows, ours does too. By offering almost error-free 3PL services, we give you more time to work on your business.
It’s hard to overstate the impact of first-rate fulfillment on your eCommerce business. Suppose you’re constantly putting out fires, talking down angry customers who got the wrong items or whose orders were late, going on treasure hunts to find lost SKUs in the fulfillment warehouse, or dealing with logistics crises. In that case, you’re losing time and money you could invest in scaling your eCommerce business.
We’ve watched Red Stag Fulfillment clients grow their enterprises by 10X and experience a 20,000% increase in unit volume. The best part is that they didn’t have to think about the extra warehouse space and personnel required to accommodate the additional sales because Red Stag handled that for them.
“[Red Stag] literally were shipping 1,000 products a day,” Stucker says. “The ability to scale was great.”– Tony Stucker, Pop-A-Shot CEO.
The customer is at the center of all eCommerce growth plans. It doesn’t matter how groundbreaking your product line is; satisfying and delighting your customers is essential. And fulfillment is at the heart of the customer experience because it’s where your customers most directly interact with your brand.
Accurate order fulfillment means getting the right quantity of the proper SKUs to the correct address every time. Choose a fulfillment partner with a high order accuracy rate, and you’ll watch your company expand.
Offer fast, cheap (or free) delivery
Online shoppers love fast, free delivery, but offering that on every order can cut into your profits. Your fulfillment strategy makes a big difference in whether you can provide free shipping on some or all of your orders and how quickly your deliveries arrive.
Warehouse locations are crucial to efficient and economical fulfillment. Here are the three cardinal rules for siting your fulfillment centers:
Never concentrate your fulfillment on the coast, even if it’s convenient to the port where your goods arrive from the factory.
In particular, avoid the four corners of the continental U.S.: Florida, the Northeast, Southern California, and Washington State.
Instead, pick warehouse locations that can quickly reach broad swaths of the country.
For example, Red Stag Fulfillment’s warehouses in Knoxville, TN, and Salt Lake City, UT, can ship to 96% of U.S. addresses in two days or less.
Work with the minimum number of warehouse locations to achieve your desired delivery times.
Using many fulfillment centers can complicate inventory management and increase your inventory carrying costs, so you must balance that against your sales volume and the benefits you gain from being closer to more customers.
Shipping from central locations saves you money because your packages travel through fewer shipping zones, making offering free or inexpensive shipping easier. And the number of shipping zones also affects the days in transit so that you can provide faster delivery.
As you scale your eCommerce business, you might have enough turnover to make it economical to expand into more warehouses to reach customers more quickly. For instance, if you have a large concentration of customers in the South, having a centrally located fulfillment center in a major metro area like Kansas City or Memphis might make sense. Revisit your fulfillment strategy often to ensure your fulfillment locations serve your customer base.
Take an omnichannel approach to everything
Developing a brand persona and experience online shoppers can trust is essential to creating a thriving eCommerce company. One bad experience can be enough to turn someone off, even if they were previously a fan of your business. That’s why an omnichannel approach to all your operations is critical.
As discussed above, your marketing should be omnichannel so you reach customers with a consistent brand voice across various media. Omnichannel fulfillment gives your customers a reliable brand experience. The get the same branding and service, whether they purchase on-site, in an online marketplace, or on another eCommerce platform.
Outsourcing to a diverse set of partners doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your omnichannel approach. Leverage your partners to help you present your brand consistently to your eCommerce customers.
How Red Stag Fulfillment can help scale your eCommerce business
ECommerce entrepreneurs founded Red Stag Fulfillment to provide the support online business owners need to scale their eCommerce businesses. The ways that we help companies grow and scale include:
- Detailed and dedicated onboarding to ensure we get your logistics services set correctly the first time
- Fulfillment guarantees, so you don’t have to worry about errors or shrinkage
- Same-day fulfillment to get each order out the day your customer makes a purchase
- Excellent customer service, so if an issue does arise, we don’t leave you hanging
- Integration support to ensure our systems communicate with yours in real time. That ensures an uninterrupted flow of data in both directions
Red Stag Fulfillment is an ideal partner when you’re ready to scale your eCommerce business. Let’s talk about how we can work together.
ECommerce Scaling FAQ:
How do you scale an eCommerce business?
There’s no single way to scale your eCommerce business. Popular strategies include:
- Selling on more marketplaces and platforms
- PPC digital marketing
- Using social media to engage with potential customers
- Adopting automation to streamline your operations
- Outsourcing fulfillment and other services to increase your capacity and accuracy
How can I scale my online business fast?
The most reliable way to scale an existing online business is to nurture a loyal customer base. It costs less to encourage repeat sales than to acquire a new customer, and fans of your brand will often make bigger purchases than first-time shoppers.
Dropshipping is the best business model if you’re new to eCommerce and want a full product line without a lot of time or money. With dropshipping, you only have to set up your online store and create product pages. Your dropshipping supplier takes care of inventory, warehousing, and shipping orders. It’s a low-risk, low-investment way to find what works for your eCommerce business.
What are the challenges of scaling an eCommerce business?
Scaling up your eCommerce business, or any business, comes with risks. Perhaps the biggest danger is investing too much too quickly and spreading your resources too thin. Expanding could hurt your business if you don’t have the capital or staff to support new investments.
In addition, if you don’t closely monitor your profit margins, high product turnover could hide the fact that you lose money on each sale. You need a resilient and stable supply chain to support your growth, robust inventory management, and enough cash flow to keep stock on hand for increased sales.
How can you scale a business with eCommerce?
Adding an online store to an existing brick-and-mortar retail business is an excellent way to scale your business. You already have systems in place for ordering and managing stock, and you have deep knowledge of your customer base. By adding eCommerce to the mix, you reach shoppers outside your geographic area and boost local sales. A well-designed website with appealing product pages can even increase your in-store sales.
*Nothing in this article is meant to imply a legal relationship between Red Stag Fulfillment, LLC and any company mentioned. Red Stag Fulfillment, LLC does not own any other company’s trademarks referenced or included in this article.