Your first foray into the world of e-commerce can be both exciting and a little bewildering. The capabilities of modern logistics, communications technology, and online store content management systems (CMS) make it possible to buy and sell almost anything over the Internet, with products sourced from across the globe making their way to your London warehouse.
When anything’s possible, it can be hard to nail the key factors and strategies that lead to sustained success and future growth. Many e-commerce startups enjoy initial success but struggle to thrive in the long term. If you’re thinking about ways to see your online business become more firmly established, here are some considerations:
How do you invest?
E-commerce businesses tend to start small, but despite the scale, you need to be committed to succeed, just as with any other offline activity. Treat your startup as a full time, a profitable operation so that you’ll be in the right mindset; if you see it as only a side gig or supplementary income source, the odds of failure over time will increase.
Invest your time and reinvest your profits into areas that help you gain a foothold in the market. Good marketing strategies, effective ad campaigns, search engine optimization, and social media engagement are all areas with a high potential return of investment. The increase in brand awareness and your customer base, through London and beyond, will help see you through shortfalls or periods of volatility.
Are your processes optimized?
When you get off to a good start, momentum can keep you going for a while, but you need to streamline your processes as you go along or else risk wasting time and effort due to inefficiency. Hiring new personnel or expanding your range of services, for example, will open up new capabilities but also risks an increase in complexity, both in your business operations and website interface.
Fortunately, you don’t have to look far for solutions in the areas of web design and data management. The booming local tech hub in Croydon hosts several successful companies you can partner with to create bespoke solutions, such as a revamped digital storefront or app, which helps optimize your company’s workflow and presentation of services.
Is it time to change the model?
If you managed to get your foot in the door by following the strategy of starting small, the initial success could be an excellent opportunity to change your business model and allow growth. A simple dropshipping business, for instance, can be great for startups, but if you only stick to that model, you might eventually run into a growth plateau.
You can leverage your newfound experience and analyze your web traffic and sales data, along with niche research and social media trends, to gauge interest in a specific product. Then focus on that product by identifying and sourcing from vendors with the best quality, or perhaps step out of the middleman role and get involved in manufacturing.
How’s your customer service?
While there are plenty of opportunities in e-commerce, there’s also a lot of competition. A reputation for exceptional service lets you stand out. For instance, Amazon changed the game when they started committing to 1-day and 2-day shipping timeframes. If your customer service lags behind everything else, it could be the limiting factor in your business success. Offering fast response times, or detailed tracking information and updates, are some of the ways to distinguish yourself from the rest of the field.