If you’re starting an e-commerce site, you have likely realized that there is a lot of work involved. It’s sadly not as simple as choosing a product that you’re passionate about and selling it to the world. It’s a truism that you should walk before you can run, and this is no different in the business world. The official name for ‘walk before you run’ is lean philosophy. It dictates that you should focus on getting your minimum viable product (MVP) correct before you start adding extras onto it. If it’s not working, change the MVP instead of your strategy.
If you have proven your MVP, congratulations. You should now scale up as fast as you sustainably can.
The first thing that you need to do is ensure that your inventory management system is up to scratch. In e-commerce, inventory management is perhaps your most significant infrastructural necessity. You need to be able to forecast how much you are going to sell so you can effectively have a continuous stream of products going in and products going out. Storage is expensive and counts as wasted capacity; in business, you want to run at full capacity at all times, as it equates to maximum efficiency and minimum costs. Good inventory management software can help you reach the levels of efficiency that you need to have a healthy cash flow and start putting money towards growth.
When you have the infrastructural basics down, you need to start thinking of expanding sales. The first step when you’re thinking of anything to do with sales is to examine the marketplace. Do you have any data from your MVP tests that give you a good idea about who your potential customers are? If you know who your customers are, you should put some time into your brand so customers relate to your business and view it as approachable. Branding doesn’t have to be too much work, but it should be well considered. Conduct some customer surveys and model your brand based on an archetype that reflects your own customers’ traits.
Next, expand your target market. Besides your own site, you should consider selling on Amazon and eBay; however, be warned: starting new accounts on these sites requires a lot of groundwork to develop customer trust. If you’re looking to scale quickly, it makes more sense to buy seller accounts that have a good history but whose owners are looking to do something else. With a small amount of time and effort, you can resurrect them and start to sell your products.
As soon as you start getting traction, you need to leverage it quickly if you want to scale up fast. You should use a customer review display app and make sure all visitors to your site know how good your products are (this can increase your conversion rate by a large percentage). Until you are happy with your start-up’s size, you should pump money into PPC and SEO to build up your presence online. A strong SEO campaign requires coordination with PPC, and you should spend some time planning your strategy before throwing everything into it.
Adding live chat options is another good tweak that can increase your conversion rates. However, make sure to balance what you can afford – a company like Amazon ran for years without making any profit, but unless this is an integral part of your strategy, you should be flexible with your spending and ready to increase or decrease spending as your cash flow fluctuates.