Running an online business from home sounds like a relaxed and flexible solution to making a living around your life. But it takes a lot of effort and forward planning to make it as simple as that sounds. Your instagram feed and online storefront may look like a vision of aspirational tranquility, but anyone who’s made a success of ecommerce knows that underneath that swan-like exterior there is a heck of a lot of fast paddling going on.
Here is what you can do to move your ecommerce experience from stressed to seamless.
Find a custom tech solution for your shop. It is quite frankly crazy to build your own site when there are affordable and bespoke solutions available that instantly take the stress out of potential tech glitches. Depending on your customer group, it may be as simple as setting up your store on a platform like Amazon, ebay or notonthehighstreet. Or if you need more control and functions then a cutting-edge ecommerce platform like Shopify will provide integrations with 3rd party shipping apps, integration and analytics across multiple sales platforms as so on.
Running an ecommerce business includes a whole lot of marketing as well as all the practical sales processes: buying in stock, fulfilling orders, postage and shipping, dealing with complaints and customer service , managing cashflow and accounts etc.
Communications and social media on their own can quickly become more than a full-time job. Put together a plan to delegate as much as you can as soon as you can. Some of those tasks could be automated or outsourced, for others perhaps you could rope in family members with dedicated tasks to begin with. But as soon as the business begins to gain traction you will need to build in adequate profit levels to enable you to employ others.
Ecommerce is as much about marketing as sales. You start as a small fry, so if you’re not making a noise in the right places it doesn’t matter how wonderful your products and brand are, you won’t make those sales. A strong commitment to marketing from the beginning will save you a whole lot of stress. It’s the life blood of your business, not an optional extra. Your marketing plan doesn’t need to be carved in stone, in this day and age it can’t be! Things move fast. The key is to know where your target customers hang out and to make sure you are there. Build relationships, listen, understand and be responsive.
You’ll also need to hone your communication skills for customer service. We are in the age of feedback and reviews. People are something like 20 times as likely to share a bad customer experience than a good one. So don’t take that chance. Get a positive customer service process and attitude in place from day one and you will save yourself a huge dollop of future stress.
4. Stay lean
If you are a reseller, then it’s always a trade-off between buying in bulk at discounted rates and possibly being left with unsold stock and storage costs. But if your USP is only about being the cheapest then the sad truth is that your business won’t last very long anyway. It won’t take long for a bigger business with greater economies of sale can usurp you.
Better to stay lean and give yourself an edge through the way you brand or enhance your products. A lean inventory means a healthy cashflow and the ability to respond to new opportunities when they come along.