15 Nov Overcoming eCommerce Business Growth Challenges
Most modern thinking eCommerce business owners care a lot about finding the perfect balance of ingredients to market their business;- the right products to sell, attracting the ideal customer, generating targeted traffic, capturing and nurturing quality leads, converting visitors into loyal clients. This, of course, is the right mix of things to care about, but more important is ensuring customer retention, attaining long-term profit and business growth, choosing the right vendors and establishing an automated daily routine. These tasks always go hand in hand with the ever-present challenges found in business growth. In this article, we can analyse those exact challenges and identify the most critical areas that lead to unlimited business growth in eCommerce and how to deal with them.
- A growing number of products
As your eCommerce business grows it’s quite normal to consider how you can expand the variety of products, add more brands, broaden a product line, etc. Doing this causes more challenges in product inventory management, storage and order processing. The inability to manage stock, or more importantly hold the right stock, causes frustration both for business owners and customers.
- Expanding distribution channels
Adding more distribution channels helps eCommerce business to reach your audience in places where it prefers to shop and, consequently, significantly grow your revenue. But it also adds more problems when it comes to monitoring distribution channels. As an example, you may have your main eCommerce website, which generates sales, then you add further eCommerce platform-based shops (in Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Shopify). The more distribution channels, the more difficult it is to monitor and manage them, track sales, see real-time analytics data.
- Growing probability of mistakes occurrence
More distribution channels and a growing number of products lead to a growing probability towards mistakes in different levels of order fulfilment, which leads to lower customer satisfaction.
- Low customer retention rate
Mistakes cause a lower customer retention rate. Unhappy clients, who have had bad purchase experiences in your shop (e.g. orders not processed on time, lost, wrong products delivered, etc.) will not recommend you to their friends and most likely will not buy again. Customer retention is one of the most critical issues to take care of because eCommerce business earns from repetitive sales, recommendations, and positive customer reviews.
- Inaccurate data about product sales, data management and analysis issues
When you have several distribution channels, most likely you have analytical data related to each of them separately, and to conduct proper analysis or make any conclusions you need to collect them into one ‘analytics’ web environment. Otherwise, no accurate conclusions can be made and it means your business operates without the correct level of visibility.
- Expanding to other markets or countries
Going international and adding more languages and currencies to your eCommerce website creates an enormous amount of issues, small and large, related to order management and processing. Managing payments from different international payment systems, calculating payment systems, assessing the cost of shipment, tracking products in delivery and notifying clients of this automatically, etc.
How to overcome these challenges of business growth?
Integration of your eCommerce with an ERP system turns your business into a money-making machine. All business processes start to become more efficient. Time and cost-effective, easier for your employees, more reliable and, what is the most important, up-to-date and synchronised.
Even amongst well known eCommerce platforms, the ability to track inventory in real-time is rare, which means that, without integration, the ERP system in your business is reduced to being held in start-up mode with a lot of manual tasks for order management and processing. This may not present itself as a problem when your business growth is not a significant priority. But if it is, consider integration of all your eCommerce platforms with an ERP system. It will grant you automatic order tracking, fewer mistakes in order processing and, moreover, it will help you to establish a strong reputation among your clients.
So at this point, it’s relevant to ask – how is your fulfilment reputation with clients ? Well, imagine that you have paid for online advertising, the target audience visits your website and sees that the products which they were searching for are available, they place an order and a warehouse check returns that none are available. The disappointment for your clients is huge, especially if they counted on receiving the product quickly, as a gift for someone special or as part of a time-critical project. Having already paid online, they feel that their time has been wasted with the added circling round to look at alternative options. This is wasteful to them but also to you in the case of money refund processes.
Effective distribution channel management is extremely important for eCommerce business growth and scalability. Imagine the situation when you have an eCommerce website and also an e-shop in an eCommerce platform or several platforms. You can hire a person responsible for the management of each platform and orders which are coming from them, and let this person switch between accounts when new orders appear. This may work if you have few products, 1 or 2 platforms where you sell them and not many orders per day. If you have many products and orders, manual order management and tracking is not a solution.
To avoid mistakes connected to manual process management, consider full automation of all important processes with an ERP system. It will help you to monitor all channels in the same system, monitor customer demands and changes in purchasing habits, plan your supply chain activities, predict future income and sales, monitor peaks of customer activity to avoid overselling, to track inventory levels fast enough, to avoid overstocking, calculate taxes and cost of delivery, create automatic invoices and shipping labels, etc.
A centralised platform, which has access to all elements of your eCommerce business platforms, customers data, orders, stock, suppliers, is a powerful tool in your fight for market share with competitors and a great asset if you consider how many problems, issues, and bottlenecks you avoid with a single integration.
International expansion is a desire of many eCommerce businesses, which with the correct approach creates unlimited earning potential for the business owners. But it also means that you need to prepare your business to it much more thorough. During international expansion, you face a different reality in comparison to what you are used to in your home country.
Even having a working eCommerce business model, with proven results in your home country, you still face issues such as foreign exchange rates, which need to be monitored constantly and update accordingly, issues like different taxation systems and tariffs according to countries laws, exporting logistics costs calculations, time of delivery prediction, product names localisation and their tracking. Going international is impossible without the use of an ERP system.