E-commerce is the fastest-growing retail channel globally, and this market explosion is only set to continue in the future. To take full advantage of this ever-growing market place you need to ensure you are running your online businesses as efficiently as possible. Focusing on efficiency enables you to streamline your processes to free up the resources needed to grow your business.
To reap the benefits of running a truly efficient business, you need to identify and improve inefficiencies. As any business owner knows, improving efficiencies is easier said than done. So, how do you go about improving business efficiency? You start with a thorough review of your current operations.
Review Current Operations
Before you begin implementing any changes to your operations, you should conduct an internal review. You should review all of your operations and identify any inefficient processes in your working business model.
To begin identifying inefficiencies, it is a good idea to start on the ground with your staff. Your employees are experts in their area. As they work in it every day, they have the most in-depth knowledge of any specific inefficiencies in their work. You should ask your employees questions about how they spend their working days, such as:
- Which tasks take up the most amount of time
- Which routine task do they find themselves repeating during the day
- What they spend the majority of their time doing
- How they feel they could work more efficiently
Creating a road map is another way to identify any potential inefficiencies in your operations. If you are reviewing your product development, for example, you should track the processes from the moment the raw materials enter your facility to the money that an order is fulfilled. Creating a timeline will help you to see any bottlenecks in your processes that need to be rectified.
You should also conduct a more general review of your business overall. This review might return information about inefficiencies in unexpected places. For example, you might be using over-complicated processes, out-of-date procedures, or unnecessary operations.
It can be difficult for managers or business owners to identify inefficiencies in processes, especially if these processes have been used for a while. When you are conducting an internal review for inefficiencies, you must adopt the right mindset. Question everything, value innovation, and think outside the box when looking to improve your online business efficiency.
How to Improve Efficiency in Your Online Business
Once you have conducted a review of your operations and identified your biggest inefficiencies, you can rectify these drains of resources. If your review has returned no obvious inefficiencies, this does not necessarily mean that your business would not benefit from increased efficiency. After all, improving inefficiencies, in turn, improve output quality, quantity and, by extension, benefits brand image and customer relations.
Below are ways in which online businesses can improve efficiency rates in 2021.
Use Customer Service Software
The rate at which you can respond and connect to customers can greatly impact perceptions of your brand and conversion rates. Installing customer service software that works across all devices is the best way to ensure efficiency in your customer service response times.
Using software that is optimized for a range of devices and operating systems means that you and your customer service team can access visitor information and chats whenever you are from any internet-enabled device.
Automate Wherever Possible
Automation has the power to increase business efficiencies when used wisely hugely. Automating routine processes can speed up operations and increase output quality, as it reduces human errors. Automation enables you to run your business more efficiently; it allows you to use your employees better.
As your employees will not have to spend time on routine tasks, they are free to focus their attention on tasks that will help grow your online business.
There are many ways that you can automate your online business, such as:
- Scheduling sales, price changes, and promotions
- Monitoring stock and updating websites
- Automate order fulfillment notifications to customer
- Email marketing, to offer discounts or inform customers of upcoming product launches
As that brief list shows, automation is a possibility for just about any department in your business. To make the most out of an investment into automation, you should focus on the departments that would benefit the most from automation technology now and in the future.
Use the Cloud
Make internal information instantly accessible to any authorized party from any internet-enabled device to reduce commonplace working inefficiencies. Never again will your team have to sit waiting for someone to send an email with a document or be unable to work because you left your hard drive at the office.
The cloud helps you avoid common problems associated with internal server data storage, as it is designed for the modern working environment.
Use Project Management Software
Project management software can help increase efficiency by making all project-related information accessible in one location. This means that managers will not only have to individually check on an employee’s progress, as they can tick off completed tasks on the platform.
Many project management software includes a chat feature which means that employees waste less time sending and checking their emails. The software also makes it easy to identify tasks that are taking longer than expected to complete. This means that it is easier for managers to act early to stop project inefficiencies from growing.
Value Employee Input and Ideas
Creating a working culture where employee input and ideas are valued can benefit efficiencies of your processes. Employees understand more about how they spend their working day than anyone else does. If you have a working culture where the free flow of ideas is encouraged, an employee is more likely to come to you with suggestions on improving efficiency in their work.
Showing value for this type of input also encourages employees to think more about how they are spending their time and how they could be working more efficiently.