How To Strengthen eCommerce In Uncertain Economic Times
Right now its pretty obvious eCommerce is the one shining star of the economy. Supply chains and warehouses may have to shut down and you may have to alter your shipping plans but ultimately I think we are going to see less in-person activities and more online shopping than ever before. It’s unrealistic to think this virus will just go away very fast, there is still the risk of it coming back, so most people will still be in a cautious state.
Listrak posted a blog that eCommerce is actually up overall. So now is a time to strengthen eCommerce unlike any before.
Here are some steps I would take, considering budgets will be scrutinized and it’s not realistic to just dump careless money into eCommerce.
Cut All Unnecessary Expenses
As much as it sucks to be so cut and dry here I think this is the pragmatic thing to do. We don’t know how bad the economy will get and it’s much worse to wait and find out and go out of business then act now. I would get very lean right now. Look at your expenses and find ways to consolidate and become more cost-effective. Perhaps eCommerce can help you consolidate or automate some of the purchasing behavior. In an economic downturn, it’s very important to be as lean as possible.
Cut junior talent that isn’t driving a lot of revenue and hire senior contractors that might help you drive revenue faster. JR talent is always a risk and often doesn’t work out. You can’t take that risk right now, invest in senior talent and consolidate down to the exact talent you need whether that is full time or contract help. If someone isn’t providing clear cut value you will likely have to seriously consider making the cut.
Evaluate Your Infrastructure
A lot of companies make the mistake of focusing on features and things they can see. Your underlying infrastructure is key to ensuring your long term success and is the foundation of eCommerce. This is everything from hosting, to the platform, to dev ops and the entire process of getting code live on the website.
I would take a hard look at this. Are you on the right platform? Perhaps there is a better platform or better apps to accomplish more with less. I would really audit your infrastructure to ensure that you can easily deploy new code via best practices using Git and doing QA on a staging or dev site. I would also audit all your third party integrations apps and everything impacting the site. Now might be a good time to reduce some apps and extra code bogging down your site.
Review Your Analytics
What is your conversion rate? What is your average order value (AOV)? Where’s most of your traffic coming from? Double down on what’s working and find ways to improve conversions and AOV. There are many add ons and ways to quickly improve the experience to increase conversions.
Perhaps a certain type of demographic is converting very well, maybe you can double down on that. In times of adversity, there is always opportunity to thrive in a specific channel when others are struggling.
Find Low Hanging Fruit
Many sites have obvious things they can improve. Maybe the site is too slow. Maybe checkout is cumbersome or lacks a specific feature. Find low hanging fruit that if fixed or improved will add immediate sales and revenue to the business.
Invest In High ROI Channels
We are seeing great ROI on Pinterest. Why? Well, its a less saturated market. Find campaigns and things that generate the highest ROI. Can’t prove your SEO agency is giving you high ROI, cut them. Cut all things that are not proving high ROI and directly impacting revenue and double down on whats providing high ROI. Typically you want to be getting back at least 2X or 3X revenue in what you are spending on ads or anything you invest in. Some are harder to track than others but ultimately we have more data than we could ever need with eCommerce if you setup analytics right.
Optimize Paid Marketing
We see so many companies that just don’t get paid advertising right. They spend a ton of money and get little returns. This could be a website and conversions issue but it’s important to ensure your campaigns are set up correctly. If a campaign isn’t working kill it or tweak it until it is. Hire real pros to setup campaigns if you can’t get them to work yourself.
Master Email Marketing & SMS
Get creative in how you communicate with your customers. Email marketing is one of the best ways to do that. Get personalized. Offer special deals or get people excited about something different or new. There are so many great email tools and email is still considered one of the cheapest ways to grow sales. Tools like Privy, Klayiyo, Zaius, and many more can help you grow online like never before.
Most of these tools are now including SMS and I would highly encourage you to consider SMS a serious opportunity to personalize and improve sales in a downturn.
Get Great At Promotions
Start doubling down on specific promotions that work well or might entice people in tough times. There are still people with money and people are spending less so if they still have their jobs they have the same income and less spending which means they have money. Promotions can get you in the door and it’s up to you to find ways to bring them back.
Diversify Your Shipping Solutions
We saw what happened with Amazon fulfillment during COVID. Now is a time to diversify and strengthen shipping. There are many third party warehouses around the world that you can tie into.
Optimize Fulfillment and Order Management
I am baffled by how many companies still have many manual processes that could be automated. It’s a great time to simplify and automated processes. Maybe thats integrating with your ERP system or OMS or simply finding ways to streamline the order process. If you can ship more orders with less people touching them the more you can grow.
Build An Agile Plan
Now is a time to move agile and find small incremental ways to improve revenue. Use something like Jira or Asana to manage tasks and prioritize tasks in an agile manner.
Find Cost Effective 3rd Party Apps
There are apps like Nosto that we have seen have an immediate impact on revenue. Many apps like abandon carts and others could immediately lift sales. Building some custom is expensive, and apps and third party add ons can be a much cheaper way to grow sales.
Become Remote Friendly
Building a remote culture and team is something I have always advocated for. It’s baffling to me how many companies have not taken this seriously before COVID. Beside’s shipping and fulfillment your entire eCommerce could be remote unless you make the product, which in that case you may also need manufacturing.