Upscaling Your Business From an Independent High Street Shop to a Successful eCommerce Business
The eCommerce sector has had a rapid growth over recent years and by 2021, it is expected that over 2.14 billion consumers will be buying online. To put that into context, the world’s population is currently 7.7 billion, meaning there is a huge amount of potential buyers sitting behind a computer, phone or tablet.
It’s no surprise that with statistics like that, many businesses worldwide are recognizing the prosperity of becoming an eCommerce business and adapting their business strategy to be able to function in the world of online shopping. With the ever growing success of online sales, we’re going to take you through the basic steps to take you from an independent high street store to a successful eCommerce business – as there’s a whole digital retail world just waiting to be discovered.
Research your competitors
Before you make the move towards becoming an eCommerce business, do your industry homework and check out competitors and businesses selling similar products to you. From the pricing of products and delivery charges to website design and customer service, you can benchmark yourself to make sure you’re entering the market in a competitive position. Your research could even lead to product innovation, as you may find competitors offer products that would enhance your shop and create new revenue streams for you.
Getting your product ready
It can be difficult to know exactly where to start when making the shift to becoming an eCommerce business. However, you’re one step ahead of someone who is just launching their business if you already have a product that is successfully selling.
This doesn’t necessarily mean your products are ready for a digital platform, however. It might be that shipping prices dictate you need to bundle products together or have a minimum spend, therefore requiring you to increase the prices of products to make it profitable.
Once you have your product ready for online sale, you need to invest in some high-quality photography. For any of your new customers, their first experience of your brand will be online rather than seeing the product in person. Having high-quality imagery of your products that brings them to life will encourage customers to buy your products, rather than going back to Google and finding another supplier. Communicating the quality of your product online can be hard, which is why getting the right imagery is crucial. Portraying the high-quality material of your clothing products or the subtle details of a piece of stunning amber jewellery is significantly harder through digital mediums, meaning the use of high-quality imagery could, and often does, make all the difference.
You might already have a website, but whether it’s friendly to sell products on or not is a different question. Your competitor research has probably given you a few ideas of how you would like your site set up, but now it’s time to put those findings into action.
First, you need to pick a platform that will work for your site. One of the most popular platforms for an eCommerce website is to use Shopify, which allows you to build a user-friendly site with the primary focus to sell products online. Your website needs to reflect your brand, your products and your customers. Build your site with your target audience, tone of voice and products in mind so that you are immediately engaging with visitors once the site is launched.
Think about what other digital channels you’re going to operate in. Social media will help drive traffic to your site, along with the use of influencers and affiliate marketing. You will find that a certain percentage of your customers will visit your site and leave before they have purchased anything, so optimize your site to capture those potential sales instead of losing them. You can do this through creating limited time offers, and launching an email campaign if a customer has left products in a basket without completing the purchase. Test different digital marketing techniques to see what works best for your business.
Real life example: A company called M2S Bikes was able to generate over $51,000 dollars of sales in 50 days by introducing a cart abandonment to their site. They integrated a behaviour-based pop-up that captured email leads, allowing them to convert into sales.
Your site will need to be optimized for its customers. Subsequently, find out where your customers are likely to be visiting from and whether a computer or mobile device is more often used, although you probably want to invest in having both a desktop and mobile-friendly site so all customers can use your website. When optimizing your site, you will also want to think about the different languages used and whether you want to optimize your site for international usage.
Remember, the more user-friendly your site is, the more sales you’re likely to receive, as customers will have a seamless experience from start to finish.
Finding the best way to package and ship your products
Now that you have your products and website sorted, you need to figure out how to ship your products to your customers. You need to choose a packaging option that ensures your products are safe and reach the customer in a high-quality condition, while suitably representing your brand.
Once you have decided upon how to package your products, look at how you’re going to ship your products internationally. Using a service like Floship’s allows you to take the worry out of shipping. Floship can take care of any importing regulations and pick a courier to get your product from door to door, giving you more time to spend on growing your business.
You’ll need to take delivery into consideration so that you can give your customers an expectation of when they’ll receive their order. If you’re a business that makes your products to order, then you need to factor in to your site how you will present delivery times.
Succeeding in eCommerce
To succeed in the industry, you need to be constantly innovating and improving to keep up with customer demands.
Customer service is absolutely crucial in the success of your business. Many customers may have questions about your products before they buy them, and you don’t want to lose a sale because you weren’t set up to reply to them quickly. Look at potentially using an online webchat in which customers can get quick responses from you. If you’re limited on resources, you could think about utilising a chatbot to engage with your customers until you have time to answer queries.
Your website also needs to constantly be innovated. Once you have your basic site built and up and running, think about details such as site speed, whether your navigation bar is serving its purpose and if your product pages provide the information your customers need.
Lastly, you need to keep on top of your stock. Hopefully, you’re going to get to a position where you have best selling products that sell out pretty quickly, in which case you need to be quick at replacing stock. You don’t want to have a site that customers visit but are unable to buy from
because stock is constantly limited or unavailable. Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll figure out how quickly you need to restock products.
Have a back up plan for if your product hits overnight success. All it takes is one press release in the right place or an influencer talking about your product for your sales to boom over night, potentially in an unmanageable way.
Real life example: A company called MixedMade received an order of 6,000 bottles of their product and had a week turnaround time. Due to the fact that they had invested in the right systems and partners, they were available to go with the order as they were fully supported.
We hope that with this helpful guide to upscaling your business, you’ll find success in becoming an eCommerce business.
Ready to start shipping?
Now that your business is growing, you will need a way to ship all the orders across the globe. Floship is that way. We specialize in ecommerce and crowdfunding order fulfillment. Floship operates from Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China. Our fully automated, award-winning software integrates with all major ecommerce platforms and more. We even offer custom API services.
About the Author
Anna Emmett is the owner of Henryka Jewellery, specialising in hand-crafted, unique silver, amber and gemstone jewellery that's inspired by the natural world.