Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, the eCommerce sector was one of the fastest-growing parts of the global economy. eCommerce, which has been considerably on the rise since 2010, offers many advantages to both business owners and consumers alike.
From an owner’s perspective, eCommerce makes it much easier to cut overhead costs and effectively reach a wider—even global—audience. From a consumer’s perspective, eCommerce makes it easier to learn more about different businesses, compare businesses across the world, and also shop from the comfort and safety of their own home.
In 2019, retail eCommerce sales in the United States accounted for an astounding $343.2 billion. By 2024, this figure is expected to increase by more than one-third and reach $476.5 billion. Clearly, the eCommerce sector is rapidly expanding. With the structural economic changes we have already seen thus far this year, many of these already existing trends can be expected to accelerate even further.
Because there is so much money sitting on the table, the eCommerce industry has become extremely competitive. While running an eCommerce business can be done with relatively limited start-up costs, business owners will still need to have a firm plan in place if they hope to succeed.
In this article, we will discuss 7 of the most important things to know about growing your eCommerce business. By taking the time to implement a proven eCommerce strategy, your business will be able to enjoy the growth of this exciting economic sector.
1. Hire an eCommerce Accountant
Accounting is one of the most important components of running an eCommerce business. With a reliable eCommerce accountant within reach, your business will be able to make better financial decisions, stay on top of your finances, and develop a business plan that enables you to continue operating for many years to come. Many eCommerce accountants can be easily accessed via outsourcing or fractional accounting—this helps your business avoid the high costs of hiring a full-time bookkeeper. Additionally, having a familiarity with the eCommerce industry will help you navigate its unique issues such as inventory accounting, tax jurisdiction, and creating an eCommerce marketplace.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Automate
In the digital marketplace, automation is key to success. With many of your processes taking place in the “digital world”, rather than the physical world, automating many of these processes is now easier than ever before. Automatic bookkeeping (especially with programs like QuickBooks), automatic communications, and automatic reporting are just a few of the tasks that can be easily automated. While getting these systems in place will require a considerable amount of legwork upfront, once you’ve put the work in, you’ll have considerably more time to focus on revenue-generating activities.
3. Expand Your Social Media Presence
Currently about half the world—3.6 billion people—identifies as a social media user. Many people use social media for multiple hours every day, which has sparked these platforms to become a leading place for advertising. Because the users are already online, social media is especially conducive to getting people to visit your eCommerce store and, ultimately, increase your number of sales. When using social media as an eCommerce business owner, it is crucial to diversify and use multiple platforms at once—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and even Snap Chat and LinkedIn can all serve very specific purposes. Posting across each of these platforms, as you might expect, is yet another task that can be easily automated.
4. Create Multiple Paths to Your eCommerce Store
As any eCommerce expert will tell you, social media is a great launching point for your online campaign, but you will want to diversify the possible “paths” to your eCommerce store even further. As it is often said, “the best way to catch a lot of fish is to have many rods in the water.” In addition to an advanced social media presence, your business should also look for media placements, engage in search engine marketing, and also develop strategic partnerships with other digital businesses. The easier you make it for people to discover your site, the more conversions you’ll be able to generate.
5. Go International
If your business was previously operating out of a brick-and-mortar store, engaging in international sales was likely something that never crossed your mind. However, with better shipping options and digital infrastructure, the ability to sell internationally is actually one of the foremost reasons new businesses move into the eCommerce space. If your products are in demand in the United States, they are also likely in demand elsewhere around the world. Though “going international” might make running your business a bit more complicated (be sure to speak with your eCommerce accountant), it is one of the easiest ways to expand your possible market from those within the community to an internet-using population numbered in the billions.
6. Optimize for Mobile Usage
According to some recent estimates, “By 2021, mobile ecommerce sales are expected to account for 54 percent of total ecommerce sales.” Essentially, if your business fails to optimize for mobile usage, you may find yourself missing out on up to half of your potential revenue streams. If your mobile site and desktop site are identical, this likely means the mobile platform is not optimized. Mobile sites need to be simpler, load quicker, and be easy to navigate using a small screen. By making just a few small changes, you can reduce your bounce rate and increase the number of visitors that are likely to convert.
7. Pay Attention to Industry Changes
As we have already seen this year, the world of business is something that can often change in the blink of an eye. If your business isn’t paying attention, this likely means you are falling behind. If you want to remain competitive within the eCommerce space, be sure to pay close attention to how it is changing over time. These changes could include the rise of new platforms, legislative changes (such as the passage of the CARES Act), changes in consumer preferences, and many others. By being proactive and seeking more information about your industry, you’ll be able to remain ahead of your competitors.
The eCommerce space is rapidly expanding and, inevitably, businesses of all kinds are looking for ways to strategically increase their online selling presence. By hiring an eCommerce accounting firm and making a few basic changes to how your business operates, you can take advantage of these opportunities for growth and move closer to achieving your long-term goals.