Running an e-commerce site provides exciting opportunities for growth. And with so many consumers using online platforms to make purchase decisions, it has become easy to boost sales and maintain a steady stream of revenue when you play your cards right.
With all that said, it’s important to bear in mind that your online store can be affected by economic conditions, and that many businesses end up resorting to price drops when the going gets tough. There are, however, other ways to tackle this issue.
The best strategy for maintaining your online store’s success is to stay informed, have a strong plan for moving forward, and know how to protect your business and yourself. E-Commerce is an ever-growing sector, and to stay on top of the latest trends and avoid economic downfalls, you need to ensure you remain competitively priced, offer attractive promotions, and communicate and build up a relationship with your customers.
Digital marketing campaigns are a key factor in driving sales, as are being adaptive and flexible in your product offering. You need to aim for customer satisfaction in every way while keeping your team happy too. We’ll break down just how you can do this without having to drop your prices.
Key Factors of Running an Online Store
If you operate an online store, you may know how to successfully maintain a cost-effective site that incorporates the essentials. However, if business is tapering off, you need to reassess whether or not you have the key factors in place that contribute to e-commerce success:
- The right product or service for sale. An essential of any successful online store is having the right kinds of goods and services for sale. Experts encourage entrepreneurs to do extensive market research before choosing the products and services they will offer online and keep doing this as trends and economics change.
- Maintain your store. An easy to navigate website is key as you want customers to feel comfortable when shopping. Make sure you keep your site up to date and maintain products and categories. If all your landing page products are listed as Out of Stock or Sold Out, customers will not dig to find what they are after. Your site should also include customer-engaging content like a blog that adds value and interest and promotes your products.
- Offer reliable customer support. Customer support and client management play a major role in service. By having easy to contact support channels with quick response times, you can maintain an open channel of communication. Support options should be clearly visible on your site, and be simple to use.
- Continually market your business and run targeted ads. Marketing is a crucial aspect of every e-commerce business’s operations. The range of advertising tools available today is extremely comprehensive and includes social media, email marketing, SEO, and Google Ads. Many tools are free to use, and others cost nominal amounts that make marketing easy, effective, and affordable. Driving traffic to your website should always be a top priority!
- Consider a virtual assistant. Enlisting the help of a VA is a cost-effective way to keep your website running smoothly without too much effort or time on your part. Your assistant can deal with the day-to-day time consuming administrative tasks, run ads, and deal with logistics and customer support. This frees you up to focus on securing supply chains and investigating ways to increase revenue.
- Automate operations where possible. There are many unique, cost-effective tools like Shopify and Oberlo that can automate certain aspects of your dropshipping business. Popular sales apps can also be useful when looking to improve your business’s bottom line.
If you have a full-time job or are looking to cut staffing costs, you may find that automation is the key to saving you time and money. Marketing automation tools can help you grow and scale your business rapidly by automating email marketing, social media posting, advertising, re-targeting, lead generation, and much more.
Running Ads and Social Media Posts
Advertising is important for any online store, but there are a few influencing factors to bear in mind.
- Firstly, the frequency of your advertising and emails should not overwhelm or annoy your customers. In order for your ads and emails to be successful, you have to strike a steady balance that serves your audience.
- Secondly, you should be smart and strategic about the marketing channels you choose. Stick to the channels that you know your audience frequents.
- Thirdly, your advertising should feel organic and not forced or overly automated for maximum impact. You want to relate to your audience, and authenticity is the way to do so.
Nowadays, social media advertising is considered to be king when you are looking to connect with potential customers in meaningful ways. You can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and many other platforms for your marketing needs, or use it to track the channels your target customers are using the most and focus on them.
Once your ads are live, use social media analytics to track their success and alter your advertising strategies accordingly. Another solid tactic is to follow your competitors on social media and keep track of their advertising success. Which of their posts receive the most attention, comments, and likes? By asking these questions, you will be able to pinpoint the type of content and products that customers in your niche prefer, thereby honing your advertising skills even further.
Many e-commerce sites make the mistake of cutting their advertising budget when times are tough. This is a fatal mistake and not something that should ever be considered. There are so many cost-effective marketing channels that can be utilized, and social media sites provide the perfect platform to market your products and attract an enormous audience.
If you have followed the above advice and used analytics tools to track your ads, you already have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. You’re also able to see what days elicited the best responses. For example, you can find you had the most clicks and conversions over the weekend, which would indicate that advertising from Friday to Sunday would be your best strategy. While there are differing opinions as to how often you should advertise, you don’t want customers to forget about you. You also don’t want them to suffer from ad fatigue and get tired of seeing your marketing material. The best approach is to try and post ads with varying regularity and again, see which ones return the best results.
Why You Should Consider Selling Your Own Products
Dropshipping stores rely on other suppliers to supply their goods for sale. This can be a profitable business model, as you make your profits from a slightly higher selling price on your side, but as with all things, there are also downsides involved.
Operating as a third party seller means that your business relies on the efficiency and regularity of other suppliers’ product streams, which can leave your customers with longer potential waiting times in a pinch. This is why many e-commerce entrepreneurs are now choosing to sell their own products on their websites.
By selling your own products, you have full control over your offerings and supply and can also reduce waiting periods for your customers. This furthermore allows your online store to stand out from its competitors, which can give you an edge in a competitive market.
When to Switch Your Suppliers
As your online store grows, you will need to overcome challenges and obstacles along the way. You will need to be flexible in terms of trends, market changes, and new niches that appear, which will allow you to capitalize on sales. As you pivot and search for new streams of revenue, it might be necessary to switch your product suppliers.
Some products you may really like may not resonate with customers, and you might need to rethink your offerings many times before you find a winning strategy. This could also necessitate a change in suppliers. Other factors that could prompt you to seek new product suppliers include slow shipping times, poor product quality, or tenuous availability of items from your current supplier.
Promotions for Profit and Customer Satisfaction
Nothing appeals to customers quite like a bargain, so it’s crucial to create a compelling offer. Whether your online store is based on a dropshipping model or you are selling your own products, you should always include bundles, sales, and attractive deals in the mix. From seasonal promotions to discounts for regular customers, the opportunity to attract attention with special offers is almost endless, and an excellent way to drive traffic to your store.
If none of your products ever go on sale, customers may not be motivated to splash out. On the other hand, if you offer the right product at a competitive price, you could easily convert potential buyers into loyal customers. Loyal customers drive profit margins more than higher prices ever could, and you are much more likely to foster loyalty if your buyers can see that you are a fair and reasonable retailer.
Experts highly recommend using bundle deals as one of your primary promotion strategies. When creating a bundle, focus on selling more of the same product you originally had in mind to promote. This means that if you sell smartphone accessories, for example, your bundles should include more smartphone accessories in them. Pair attractive bundles and promos with clever marketing campaigns and up-selling, and you will have a recipe for success.
Focus on the Fundamentals
While there are several facets to running a successful e-commerce store, some can be scaled back appropriately when faced with an economic downturn. You should not need to use a price drop to attract and retain customers if you have covered the essentials.
Erin Merrill works as an editor over at OnCourse, an innovative sales CRM tool for smart businesses. Specialized in relationship management, she enjoys helping out sales teams develop a personalized, sniper-targeted approach to close qualified leads.