The average small business often struggles to thrive and compete against big-box online retailers such as Walmart and Amazon. However, for every failure, there’s a story of a company excelling.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36.8% of small businesses survived the 10-year mark. The one-year survival rate is much higher, with 78.1% of those opening in March 2019 still in business in 2020. What does this mean for your e-commerce business?
If you want to sustain growth and keep cash flowing, you must have a smart growth strategy. You can’t just throw advertising at your business and hope for the best. Creating a plan allows you to achieve your objectives and prepares you for potential crises.
With a global pandemic underway and changes in the way people spend their money, it’s more important than ever to rethink your growth strategy. Here are eight tips for growing your e-commerce business in 2021 and beyond.
Play It Safe (But not too safe)
It’s important to play it a little safe during volatile economic times, even if you’re seeking an aggressive growth strategy. Make sure you set aside an emergency fund. If you suddenly had zero revenue tomorrow thanks to a natural disaster, could you stay afloat?
As an e-commerce company, your overhead may be much lower than brick-and-mortar stores. However, you still have expenses such as warehouse space, employees, and online hosting services. Make sure you set aside enough to get you through the hard times. This is especially important if you suffer a product recall issue (we’ve seen it happen).
Cash flow is one of the top reasons why small businesses fail. Don’t let it be the reason yours does.
Although the pandemic impacted the entire world, some countries are recovering better than others. One of the great things about e-commerce is the ability to expand to any market. There are opportunities in Asia and other countries you might not have here.
Look into shipping costs, crunch the numbers, and study the competition. Do you have a product people can’t get anywhere else in the world? Perhaps you can customize what you sell in some way.
Focus on Diversity
In a recent survey by Accenture, 41% of participants indicated they move their business away from companies not reflecting their values of inclusion and diversity. There are many ways to reach out to everyone in your customer base.
Think about the people you hire. Are you diverse in your selections? Do you have men, women, and people of various ethnic backgrounds working for you? If not, it’s probably time to make some changes anyway. The more (and more diverse) backgrounds and experiences your employees collectively have, the more creativity comes to the table.
You should also use diverse advertising in the photographs you choose and even the buyer personas you create.
Ramp Up Your Visuals
Most screen resolutions are now high-definition, and people access the internet at higher speeds than ever before. If your website isn’t updated with the latest technology, or compatible with it, it’s time to invest in an upgrade.
Add features such as 360-degree videos to highlight your top products. Make sure your product descriptions and photos pop off the page and come to life. Your photos must be professional-looking and highlight each product in the absolute best light possible.
Hire and Keep Talent
A big part of your business success relates to who you hire and whether they stay with your company. You may not be able to pay as much as big corporations, but you can offer perks to attract sharp, motivated candidates.
It takes a small business about 42 days and over $4,000 to find a new hire. There are also costs associated with training. If you have a high churn rate, it will impact your success. Add the benefits you can afford, such as flexible hours and remote options, to your compensation packages. Create a family-like atmosphere so your workers never want to leave.
Add Payment Options
Online stores get customers from all walks of life. Just offering a credit card payment option may not be enough anymore. You should look at third-party providers such as PayPal and Stripe.
You might also consider adding high-tech options, such as one-click payments and accepting cryptocurrencies.
Look at what’s trending and add what makes sense. It could result in gaining a new customer who otherwise wouldn’t have bought from you.
Improve Your Site’s UX
Since your business gets conducted fully online, you want a killer website. The best sites create an amazing user experience (UX). Think about the ways people access your site and how to meet their needs.
The most cleverly designed sites have excellent UX on several fronts. They load quickly, they’re visually pleasing, and their clickable elements are easy to find and interact with. Study access points and where people tend to bounce away from your site. Run A/B tests to try out different versions or combinations.
Build Brand Awareness
Much of your success as an online store comes from name recognition. When people hop online to buy something in your category, you want them to immediately think of you and head to your website.
There are many ways to build brand recognition. You should have an active presence on social media, including advertising and content posts. Enlist the help of influencers to talk up your products and what you do. Ask customers to mention you and leave reviews.
Building a name takes time, so put effort into it every day. Over time, you’ll gain word-of-mouth marketing from existing customers.
Incorporate Both Old and New Trends
Don’t throw out what already works for your brand. Keep the elements that have given you success up to this point. Add in new ones as they make sense, then test and adjust until you find your stride. With a little focus and dedication, you can grow your business even during challenging economic times.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.