Running an e-commerce store can be hard work, especially if you’re doing most of it on your own. Along with keeping your core website up and running, you have to maintain inventory, fulfil orders, handle customer service and enquiries, and so much more, it makes your head spin just thinking about it.
Luckily for online store owners, various tools are being made every day to make this workload a lot easier. Additionally, experts who have seen success in their own online business are also publishing their stories and advice for others to learn from and build on. Here are some of the most impactful ways you can make your store a lot easier to manage.
Use a dedicated eCommerce platform
Over 75.5 million eCommerce websites have been built using a combination of WordPress and WooCommerce, which makes it the most popular eCommerce website solution around. However, one of the criticisms of using this approach is that it is not as user-friendly for new online store owners, particularly those who are not tech-savvy.
You are an entrepreneur. You want to run a store without the hassle of figuring out the nuances of web design in the process. For you, a better solution awaits in options like Shopify and Squarespace. While these cost a little more than WooCommerce does, they are still affordable, and they come out far ahead in terms of setup and usability. Additionally, they provide easy access tools that will help you handle updating inventory, collecting payments and fulfilling orders with ease.
Focus on a specific product or audience
Trying to compete with Amazon and eBay is an automatic death sentence for your online store and a massive headache for you. Instead, find a niche audience (like people who travel the world while running a business, or fitness buffs who care about the environment) or become the go-to authority for a specific type of product.
Not only does finding that sweet spot help you become an authority in that niche or with that specific audience, but it will also make your store a lot easier to run.
When you are clear on whom you’re talking to, their budget and preferences, and the scope of products they need, it gets a lot easier to find the right products for your store and present them in an appealing way. You don’t have to worry about winning over any random person that happens upon your site. Just focus on your people, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty and, of course, repeat purchases.
The logistical element of running an eCommerce store can be tricky, not to mention time-consuming. It’s not enough that you have to sit around a computer all day managing your store, you’ve got to package, deliver and handle returns too? Don’t even mention the headache of getting your orders from your preferred suppliers delivered to you in time. It’s enough to drive you nuts.
If handling logistics is getting to you, there is a simple solution – let someone else take care of it. This can mean outsourcing the fulfilment portion of your business by sending your products to a warehouse and having them handle shipping. Alternatively, you could stop handling inventory overall and dropship your items straight from the manufacturer or supplier directly to your buyers.
If you’re worried about the unknown factors and risk involved, you’ll be happy to know that there are reliable dropshipping resources available that will give you all the information you need and recommend trustworthy tools and suppliers who work specifically with businesses like yours.
So if your business allows for outsourcing of inventory management, packaging and shipping, these options are well worth considering.
Create a calendar for promotions
There’s nothing quite like realising that it’s two weeks before Black Friday and you don’t have the inventory, graphics or promotional plan to capitalise on it. You may think that you can throw something together, but you know it will never be as effective as something you plan for in advance.
The best way to make sure your promotions have maximum impact is to plan for them well in advance. Create a yearly schedule of all the special days and industry-related periods you want to take advantage of, then make a checklist of all the things you’ll need to do to prepare and when you need to do them. Here’s a great example from Goodwill that they publish publicly.
Of course, you don’t have to make your public, and it doesn’t have to be this fancy. However, don’t just let this list gather virtual dust in the corner of your computer! Schedule in the dates and deadlines into your calendar – whether a digital one where you’ll get notifications when the time comes, or a day planner that you use – and then take the time to get it done, so you can focus all your energy during promotions on fulfilling all those orders!
Running a profitable online store doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. It’s just the opposite. Learn what has worked for others and use it to your advantage. Most importantly, keep things as simple as you can and focus on finding and pleasing your audience, so they’ll be happy to support your business time and time again.