Originally published on 3 December, 2018
As a consumer, it was a bit of a strain on my inbox, and a test of my willpower, however for small ecommerce businesses Black Friday can have a very positive impact… but at a high price. Smaller eCommerce businesses have to box above their weight to compete in a global marketplace, and without the vast resources and budgets of larger organisations, every stress point of the business can be magnified during peak times such as Black Friday.
It may sound ridiculously obvious, but if your website brings in the most revenue, that’s where you focus your efforts; checking the SEO of each product, updating product details, pushing customers to targeted landing pages and website-only promotions. However, if like many of our clients, you find Amazon is the platform through which most your sales are placed, then your presence on Amazon needs to be sparkling… check all product classifications, product images should be professional and product details comprehensive, seek feedback from customers using post-purchase messages. Once your sales process is as streamlined as possible, then the time to focus on secondary platforms will be available.
With sales coming in from multiple platforms daily, just keeping on top of incoming orders can be a time-consuming activity (not to mention fulfilling them – more of that later!) Having a centralised interface where all sales can be viewed simultaneously, is the first step in a streamlined process. Checking and downloading order details from one platform, is much more efficient than having multiple systems open and having to extract order details from each one, all of them in different formats.
Consumers expect their online orders to be fulfilled swiftly, and the first factor in achieving this is to ensure there is stock available at the point of sale. This is critical when selling on multiple sites and in multiple countries when you can wake up and stock has sold out overnight, but not all your accounts reflect this. Factor in the strict criteria in place to maintain Amazon Seller-Fulfilled Prime status, and having stock showing in real-time on every platform is crucial.
4. Streamline Fulfillment Processes
Fulfilling orders can be the most time-consuming part of an eCommerce business; printing out the invoices, the shipping labels, picking the right product, packaging it all up, and then, finally, through the door on its way to the customer. Our technical people have taken the stress out of the fulfillment process by incorporating chronological pick lists which collate the labels and invoices and print to reflect the way your product store is configured. See vSell for more information. Another crucial aspect of order fulfillment is choosing a shipping company which meets the needs of your business; with differing shipping rates and guaranteed delivery categories, it’s important to find a cost-effective yet professional option.
5. Outsource, Delegate or Automate!
The wearing of many hats is the norm for small business owners, and especially eCommerce owners. Alongside the only revenue generating activity of selling, marketing, procurement, finance, HR and day-to-day admin all crowd in to steal time from your busy days. Factoring in the cost of your time and the impact on the business of not focusing on selling and growth, buying in help can be a financial no-brainer, whether outsourcing to other companies, delegating to new or existing members of staff, or automating through software platforms.
Each eCommerce business is unique and has evolved to reflect the time and place and person who created it. One thread which ties successful eCommerce businesses together, is that timely changes have been implemented to take these businesses to the next level, through outsourcing, delegation or automation.