Ecommerce Management: Keep a Successful Online Business
When it comes to having an online store, developing ecommerce management skills is fundamental. Before even starting, you are going to need to comprehend the difference between running a physical store and an ecommerce, and plan how to manage the different areas of your online business.
Customer support, logistics, inventory management, website maintenance, digital marketing: there are several factors to consider that will require your attention along the way.
Research, knowing how to delegate, being willing to learn, counting on a high-quality team, and understanding that errors are part of the path to being successful in having an ecommerce makes a huge difference.
Every single part of your online store functioning properly from sales to delivery, conquering loyal customers, becoming an authority in your industry sector, and gaining credibility, depends on effective ecommerce management.
Managing a company is a challenging task as any entrepreneur knows. But, in the case of ecommerce, it's necessary to consider the particular aspects of the digital world, for example, the competition, the infrastructure to keep a website, how to keep a stock and deliver the products, and the online payment process, and so on.
Organization and planning are key factors. Without well-structured ecommerce management processes, you run the risk of not being able to meet your customers' demands.
Orders delivered wrong, products that arrive broken at the customer's home, selling items out of stock, the slow response time when people try to get in contact with your store: those are all common problems that the lack or poor ecommerce management can cause.
Situations like that may be the failure of a business and highly affect your brand's image, customers lose trust in your company. If you already have physical well-established stores and have built a thriving business, bad online service can have an impact on this as well.
If you have just started your company with the creation of your online store, the lack of management can be what stops you from developing a stable successful enterprise. If you already have an established company, and selling online is going to be an extension of the business, and not the whole focus, you need to create an area to be responsible for it.
An ecommerce manager will be necessary, just as a team to take care of the website creation and its maintenance, along with assigning employees to be responsible for preparing the orders and sending them.
If you are just starting your business and your focus is totally on online sales, you are probably going to be the ecommerce manager, right? If you still don't have the capital to invest in building a team, you will need to be in charge of several areas. But, it's possible to find solutions to optimize your work and opt for different ecommerce models, such as dropshipping.
Regardless of the size of your company, counting on a website builder, a Content Management System (CMS), and a Customer Relationship Management platform (CRM) will help to optimize work, and save time.
Whether you already have a company or are creating one now, to start selling online it's essential to make an ecommerce business plan. You need to have a clear understanding of how your ecommerce is going to work, and you can begin by answering the following questions:
- What products are you going to sell?
- What are your product sources?
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are your competitors?
- Where are you going to sell your products, (your website, social media, and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay)?
After answering these questions, it's time to think about the resources you are going to need to manage the ecommerce. Make a financial plan to define which is the initial investment and how you are going to afford it.
This will vary depending on the type of ecommerce you will build and the delivery methods, if it's wholesaling, dropshipping, or direct to consumer, for example. It's also important to consider the human resources, employees, and subcontractors you may need.
Think ahead, and build an ecommerce business plan that includes short and long-term goals. This way, you can develop ecommerce management strategies already focusing on scaling up and having a solid basis for future growth.
Don't forget to research your competitors. Seeing what strategies they are making to sell online is going to help you to identify the current trends, but also to see how you can distinguish your ecommerce from them and stand out.
Different from what many people think, nowadays it doesn't take knowing how to code and design to build a website. There are CMS platforms, with website builders, which enable you to develop your online store by choosing a pre-built template and customizing it with an intuitive editor.
They also provide you with ecommerce management tools to control the inventory, keep track of orders, and set payment and shipping methods. You can manage everything from a single dashboard, and automate several tasks, including marketing actions.
Research the ecommerce platforms available, and you will see that some of them even offer free plan options. Make a list of the features you need, set up a budget, and select the one that fits your company best. Many CMS offer free trials as well, enjoy them to make sure you will choose the best CMS for you and your team.
To offer a great customer experience, keeping control of your inventory is mandatory, mainly to avoid problems such as selling out-of-stock products, or orders that are delivered wrong.
Put yourself in your customer's shoes, how do you feel when you buy an item and then the purchase is canceled? And if you receive an order and when you open the package the product isn't the one you bought? It's frustrating, isn't it?
Problems like that may ruin your brand's image to customers, and make them not want to buy again from your ecommerce. So, you need to develop management processes to avoid these types of situations.
Pay attention to the product stock levels to know when to re-order them, don't wait to run out of the item. Besides, it's important to analyze which products are selling more and the ones that aren't, to know which ones you should invest in, and maybe even decide to stop selling a specific product and include other ones in your catalog. Pay attention to the expiration dates of the items in your warehouse too.
Ecommerce platforms will help you to keep track of inventory since many of them update it automatically as the products are sold. They also allow you to have a sync inventory for your website and marketplace stores, preventing errors. Besides, you can count on reports that will facilitate analyzing sales performance.
Even with an automated inventory system, making a full audit periodically is usually necessary, which means counting all the stock. It's important to make sure everything is running properly and to identify any possible problems. But this, of course, applies only to the ecommerce businesses that have their own stock, with dropshipping this isn't necessary.
Part of the ecommerce management tasks is to make sure that strategies to boost sales are being developed, which leads us to digital marketing. When selling online, you are dealing with a highly competitive market.
If in a physical store your competition could be narrowed down to the stores in the same neighborhood or city, when it comes to the internet, you are competing with ecommerce from all around the world. Developing actions to make your website be seen by your target audience should be among your priorities to be able to boost sales.
By knowing who your customers are, and understanding their profile and buyer's journey, you are going to be able to draw more accurate strategies to reach them. The first step is to define what their demands are, then show how you can help solve them.
Be present on the social media platforms that they use, and create high-quality content. Pay attention to the DMs, and comments as well. Try to separate a part of your day to answer them, or leave someone in charge of the replies.
That's an opportunity to build brand awareness and straighten the relationship with loyal customers. Having a blog is also an interesting marketing strategy because it allows you to use SEO techniques in order to rank better on Google search results. Another aspect to consider is investing in paid ads both on social media and on Google.
It may seem a lot to analyze, plan, and put into action, that's why it's important to create a workflow, which will help you to manage the marketing area. Create an editorial calendar for each social media, and also for the blog. Keep track of the metrics as well, this will help you to have new insights and identify what needs to be changed and improved.
Customer-centric, as the name suggests, is about putting the customer at the center of your business, which means always taking into consideration what is best for them when making decisions. When managing your ecommerce, think about how you can offer the best customer experience.
By making your customer a priority, it gets easier to define what to sell, since the goal is solving their demands. Besides, when developing the website, the content and design will be driven to allow easy navigation and provide useful information, with an intuitive interface, a simple check-out process, and payment and shipping methods that meet the buyer's needs.
Customer support becomes a priority as well. Your clients' doubts and problems must be looked at carefully, putting all the effort into solving their issues in the best way possible. Instruct your employees on that.
How do you evaluate if the strategies developed are effective? One of the first things is to know what to analyze, and it becomes easier when you set key performance indicators (KPIs).
How many people accessed your website, conversion rates, traffic from ads, bounce rate, average time spent on each page, organic traffic from Google and other search engines, and, of course, number of sales are all examples of KPIs.
Keep in mind, though, that the ones you are going to analyze vary based on the purpose of each action implemented, and also taking into consideration your business plan.For example, if your marketing team has developed an ebook to conquer more qualified leads, and created a landing page where people provide their email to download the material.
Even though this action can generate sales, that's not the main focus, so the KPIs to be prioritized should be the number of access on the landing page, and how many people signed up to download the ebook.
On the other hand, if you created an email marketing campaign to promote a special discount on the online store, the number of purchases completed through the link on the email is one of the main KPIs. It will help you to identify if the CTA used is effective, for instance.
Web analytics tools are really valuable for ecommerce management because they enable you to access the KPIs, receive regular reports about your website pages, and check what needs to be improved.
When you launch a new marketing campaign, don't just wait for it to be finished to analyze the results. Check the analytics data to follow through on the performance while the campaign is still running. This allows you to identify ways to enhance and reach your purpose.
Another advantage is that you can use the metrics to make A/B tests and then analyze the most effective version of a page or an ad, for instance. The data provided by the analytics tools also give you more information about your target audience's behavior, which helps to adapt according to their preferences.
You are going to find that several CMS and CRM already have built-in analytics tools, or allow you to install extensions with that purpose. Google Analytics is one of the most know tools in that area, and it provides several features so you can have a complete view of how users interact with your ecommerce website.
As you probably already know, the digital market is in constant change. Every day new technology is invented and starts being used and modifying how people buy online. Just take a look back at how online stores used to be.
Not long ago, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook were only used to promote products, and now people can make purchases directly from those apps. This required online stores to adapt, and make new plans.
When you are continuously looking for new trends and researching the digital market, you become more prepared. Efficient ecommerce management is also about identifying what the market requires and having the skill to think ahead and innovate.
As you could see, ecommerce management involves different sectors of a company, planning, finances, logistics, marketing, and customer assistance, for instance. To manage an online store it's fundamental to nurture the ability to look at multiple aspects of a business and understand how they are connected.
When you comprehend that the multiple factors that influence an online business's success need to be analyzed together, you increase the chances of success.
Errors are part of any entrepreneur's journey, and it isn't different when it comes to ecommerce management. But, learning from your mistakes is what can set you apart from others and make your ecommerce thrive. Remember your company is unique and there isn't one path to creating the perfect management process.
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