Online store improvement in three easy steps

Order Management

eCommerce is constantly changing and what works for one online store right now may not work for a different brand later. While it’s a good idea to have a basic roadmap that details a retailer’s annual goals and plan of action, they should be treated as just that – guidelines. Retailers must be flexible and willing to make major course corrections at any given moment if they want to capitalize on new opportunities that present themselves over the course of the year.

Although 2014 is half over, retailers should never stop looking for different ways to improve their online store. Whether it’s modifying policies, rethinking product offerings or addressing customer service, there are numerous changes they can make to generate more revenue.

Here are three ways retailers can grow their online store and increase their ability to achieve success:

1. Carefully consider inventory

Picking and choosing the right items to sell has always been one of the biggest challenges that merchants face. However, in the era of the online store, retailers are more able than ever before to see what customers are responding to, which may tip them off to new product ideas and categories.

On site, retailers can look at page views, search queries and purchase history to gain insight into what types of items are capturing the interest of consumers. Of course, retailers can also look at data from third-party sources as well, such as social media, to gain an outside perspective.

With the holidays quickly approaching, merchants will need to think carefully about the items they plan to sell.

“For the holiday selling season in 2014, choose new product carefully,” added Practical eCommerce. “If your margins are such that you can compete with Walmart, feel free to sell mass-market products. But if you don’t have that sort of buying power, consider looking for niche products that are more difficult to find at big box retailers.”

Retailers must be flexible and willing to make major course corrections at any given moment

2. Improve customer knowledge

How well do retailers know their customer? If a merchant wants to operate a better online store, they’ll need to understand exactly what their shoppers need.

This is nothing new – after all, the motto of most retailers has always been “the customer is always right.” However, retailers may want to take more progressive action in actually serving their customers and understanding their needs. This could mean conducting focus groups, taking a deeper dive into customer information and big data or making greater use of surveys.

3. Take a look at technology

Technology, much like the retail industry itself, is always changing. Retailers may want to take another look at the eCommerce software and tools they use to run their online stores. Although this may not help them generate additional revenue, it may identify opportunities to reduce expenses.

Running an online store isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it task where retailers can plan their operations a year advance and stick to the plan. They should always be open to the option of making mid-year course corrections to better capitalize on new opportunities.

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