Aiming for efficiency: How technology can consolidate your efforts to optimize eCommerce operations
GUEST POST BY JOSHUA O’CONNELL, VP OF PARTNERSHIPS ZOEY
As your business grows, the amount of data and number of processes that must be managed grows as a natural outgrowth of your increasing sales. There’s more inventory to manage, more customers to communicate with, more items being shipped to customers, and so on. That means that processes that once worked when a business was smaller may prove inefficient when things pick up steam.
Thankfully, when you’re talking about eCommerce, technology solutions can assist with efficiency, making sure that areas with the most risk of a drain on your staff can be optimized, reducing the burden on your team and allowing you to do more with less.
As a business grows, there’s a natural urge to get products in more places. That could be building a wholesale network, selling on marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay, or having physical stores that are paired with your online store. It can seem daunting to have to manage your products and inventory in a variety of different ways, but in recent years, being able to link all these different initiatives has become a lot easier.
• Physical Stores: Nowadays it’s quite easy to find POS and inventory management systems that work with eCommerce platforms. If you’re using your physical store as your shipping location for your online store, you can even bridge inventory and product information to your POS, so when you receive inventory in your physical store, online gets updated. Meanwhile, when you make sales online, your POS and inventory management system will get updated so you don’t oversell. This can reduce the overall effort of managing a store by avoiding double entry of information.
• Multi-channel Sales: Many businesses want to have a presence on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay or Walmart. But, again, having to manage product catalogs and inventory in multiple places can be a huge hassle for merchants who have limited manpower. Tools like SalesWarp can assist by providing robust product and inventory management, as well as order management to properly keep the flow of all the various channels organized.
• Wholesale Sales: Increasingly B2B and wholesale features are getting built in to the most popular platforms. At Zoey, we offer capabilities that allow a merchant to sell to both consumers and wholesale customers within the same site, offering a way to manage all sales on one eCommerce platform. Other platforms, like Magento 2 Enterprise, are also rolling out B2B capabilities that simplify launching these capabilities on your store.
As your sales grow, managing order shipments can become quite complex. You may be leveraging multiple shipping methods, and/or processing dozens or hundreds of orders a day as your volume grows, from a variety of other channels. As such, leveraging a streamlined shipping solution is a must. At the most basic level, there are companies that provide shipping label generation features, where they can pull in your orders, generate labels, and update the orders automatically, so you don’t have to apply the shipping information manually.
A step above that are more robust shipping solutions that can be mapped to your warehouse and print shipping pick lists that are ordered based on your warehouse layout, so your warehouse employees can be at their most efficient. They can even include the pictures you’ve loaded of your merchandise for visual spot checking.
Most of these solutions offer discounted shipping pricing over what you could negotiate yourself, since they’re working in high volume scenarios across thousands of merchants. From an economic efficiency standpoint, that means less expensive shipping options for you, which could also be passed down to your customers, making purchasing at your store more attractive.
Email Marketing Management
Most merchants establish an email list early, and are savvy enough to understand the value of building an email list and sending out periodic marketing messages. But as both the age of the business and the size of the list grows, incremental steps need to be taken to maximize the power of email marketing on both the mailing list side, as well as the ecommerce store more generally. Here are some email components that can be automated, which will improve your success with email as a marketing tool:
• Cart Abandonment: This email will reach out to customers who placed items in their cart but didn’t complete the transaction. Usually they go out anywhere from 1-24 hours after the customer placed the item in the cart. This can remind those who didn’t complete their transaction to come back.
• Product Recommendations: Email clients increasingly are compatible with recommendation platforms, which can leverage data from your store, and even the individual customer, to make recommendations of products they may want. This can be sent as its own email, or embedded as a module inside your other marketing emails, as a way to generate more interest and sales.
• We Missed You: Customers who haven’t shopped in a while will get an email encouraging them to come back. A coupon code inside can further help drive another sale.
• New Registrant Series: When people join a list, you can send multiple emails, carefully crafted and timed, to educate them about you, which can get customers excited about shopping with you.
Most email platforms today allow for these and others to be pre-configured, meaning that your customers will hear from you without your needing to do anything but set up the campaigns. Your marketing team can then focus on other aspects of building visibility for your business.
Leverage External Resources
One last suggestion is to consider bringing in experts from outside your company for strategic help when you either don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to do it yourself. Finding the right partners can take a bit of effort, but they can help you execute areas of the business that help you succeed, while you focus on others. Here’s areas where outside help can be handy:
• Marketing: Online marketing is full of opportunity, but also plenty of nuances to understand. It also evolves quickly, meaning the best performers are always doing homework and evolving their plan. This may be untenable for many merchants, so having outside help can take the edge off. The right partner will be doing this successfully for other merchants, and will have a practice specializing in this, so you know they’re constantly honing their craft for all of their partners, yourself included.
• Website design/development: Do-it-yourself website companies like Wix and, yes, Zoey, are cropping up and empowering merchants, but that doesn’t mean every business should build their websites themselves. Sometimes, it’s best to hand it over to people who do it as their careers, since they can many times accomplish it with more efficiency, especially if you’re not as tech-savvy. Of course, once it’s built, make sure it’s done in a way where you can make simple changes when you want, while having someone to help for more complicated needs.
• Content Writing: It may seem simple enough to write a blog or product description, but there are tricks of the trade that can help make content more beneficial for search engines. For instance, writing a unique description instead of copy/pasting from a manufacturer can benefit you for SEO, since you don’t have the same text everyone else does. If it feels overwhelming writing for your website, there are outside teams who can help you in various forms, and do so efficiently.