A Roadmap for a Profitable E-commerce Business

When it comes to starting an e-commerce business or adding e-commerce into your rolodex of purchasing options for your customers, you need to ensure you are fulfilling certain strategic, creative and technology needs in order to ensure short and long term success. Furthermore, in order to retain e-commerce business, you need to offer a superior web, mobile, and conversational interface or your customers will look to a supplier or merchant that does. So where do you start to research, launch and grow a profitable e-commerce business? By following a roadmap that is focused on a holistic approach to commerce strategy and solutions- building a team with strategy, design, technology, operations, merchandising, and data skills to mix into each individual clients particular needs at a particular point in time, you will be setting your e-commerce business up for future-readiness and success.

Start with leaderships vision for e-commerce

Beyond a general vision, are your plans clearly defined each step of the way? Perhaps you have a vision, but it needs more definition. It is very common to put the cart before the horse, meaning the general vision is there, but the plan still has many unknowns. Before proceeding further, any hole within the plan should be filled in. Important and common questions to have team conversations around include, “Does everyone involved understand and align in the overall strategy for the business?” and “Have you identified tactical initiatives and is everyone clear on their goals?”

 Placing guideposts along that journey to denote milestones that represent progress and also provide the opportunity to reassess the travels ahead are imperative. Being able to chart a course for tactical execution, mitigate risk of channel conflict, and understand emerging trends is the groundwork to successfully launch an e-commerce business and gain a competitive advantage.

Understand your operations and any gaps

From order management, fulfillment, and customer care it is important your teams have a single source of data to work from and transparency amongst themselves. Without this you will be lacking on efficiency which will make innovating and keeping up with customer demands extremely difficult. Being prepared as an organization to transition and perform new operations and processes is critical to continually improve. 

Create a value-added user experience 

In today’s market, you will want to look holistically at everything involved with creating a successful multi-channel experience for your customers because you will likely be marketing via several different channels and your buyers will be searching for you or your competitors elsewhere before ending up on your site. Ultimately, experiences should be personalized to meet the needs of the buyer, seller, company, channel and all the various support roles involved in the buying cycle. There is no such thing as a finished product in this case - instead, continual, dynamic improvements must be made to evolve with your visitors needs. This can sound complex, but done successfully by utilizing customer data and partnering with the right team of experts you can break down barriers, align your internal teams, and continually create new customer centric experiences that keep them coming back.

Merchandising effectively in digital markets is imperative

How you present and promote your merchandise in digital markets is going to move your business to the next level and set a solid foundation for being ready for what the future holds. Some examples of this include working alongside sales and logistics to implement correct product attribution that will inform these departments across all channels and improve customer experience and delivery efficiency and through technology and processes of understanding how products relate to one another, being able to effectively associate products that should be sold together to increase order conversion and AOV.  The most successful company’s approach digital merchandising with the proper mix of technology, algorithms, and people to ensure their customer engagement is high, while site and cart abandonment is low, and with converting a top goal.

Be data driven and customer obsessed in your marketing approach

This goes back to the importance of having a single source of customer data and working in a transparent environment. The marketing department needs to be aligned with your organizations other sectors to gain important customer insights and move towards a strategy that treats customers as profiles, not simply personas to create a truly individualized experience. The marketers challenge in this age is being able to collect, analyze, synthesize, and react in real time to this customer information across numerous touchpoints and removing internal silos. Being able to evolve to identify gaps in this process, prioritize them, and create a roadmap with measurable goals your team or partners can execute on is instrumental in success in converting new customers and keeping current customers loyal.

Have a solid technology foundation

Everything we have discussed so far largely relies on having the right people in place and the right technology. By connecting cloud-based technology services you will be able to continually innovating and optimizing your technology stack to build compelling experiences we've all come to expect - both on and offline. Of course, technology alone won’t propel you ahead of your competition, but combine it with the tips given in this post, and competitors won’t stand a chance. 

Final Thoughts

Forrester reports 92% of digital experience decision-makers in these companies seek the help of experts with experience guiding companies along this journey of discovery and change for years. If you are looking for help in building your e-commerce business, start a conversation with our experts at Echidna today.

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