Are you contemplating scaling up your eCommerce venture? You’re on the right track! The digital landscape has seen exponential growth over a couple of years, and it’s expected to grow even the more.
Recent projections by Help Scout hint that global eCommerce sales could reach a staggering $8.3 trillion by 2026, up from $5.2 trillion in 2021.
That means as a savvy eCommerce entrepreneur, you should not only be considering securing a share of this expanding market but also strategizing to ensure your business grows alongside it.
And don’t get it wrong, buddy — scaling an eCommerce business isn’t exclusively about increasing sales figures.
Instead, it encompasses a spectrum of initiatives, including product line diversification, optimizing customer experience, engaging in strategic marketing, employing efficient supply chain management, and many others.
So, what’s the right way to do it?
Whether you’re a budding online retailer or a digital merchant of many years, this is the in-depth guide you will want to read. Herein, we’re about to equip you with every detail you need to make your eCommerce business growth journey less of a puzzling and more of a fun endeavor, so read on!
1. Before You Start Scaling, Have a Robust Growth Strategy
Before you start pouring concrete, first create the blueprint. And when it’s time to scale your business, this blueprint is your eCommerce growth strategy — it’s the map that guides you at every step.
So, what exactly is an eCommerce growth strategy?
Think of it as your master plan. It’s the big picture that considers all the potential opportunities and threats to help in the successful expansion of eCommerce business. This plan covers every business aspect and lays out strategies to boost growth while keeping risks low.
How you craft it? Begin by checking out market trends, sizing up your competition, and, most importantly, making sure your strategies match what your target audience is into at the moment.
On the market trends, know what’s booming in the industry. What products, services, and technologies are trending, and how could they potentially affect the digital landscape?
Once you have that information, analyze your competitors and customer needs to identify any gaps in the industry. Pinpointing the existing market gaps makes it easier to position yourself in a way that differentiates you from the rest as you grow.
For instance, you may want to know what payment methods most customers are shifting to or prefer when doing online transactions.
If you identify any void in this area, make their preferred method your priority. This will help in reducing friction in the payment process and make things more convenient for your customers — which, by the way, is a big selling point.
And, of course, you’ll also need to think about what strategy will allow you to ramp up your storage without buckling under the weight of additional inventory or how to maximize efficiency while minimizing costs.
Working with public warehouse companies instead of having your own warehouse, for instance, helps you do that. These companies will flexibly absorb your storage needs as your business grows in size, so you don’t have to incur hefty inventory storage costs at the initial stage of your venture.
2. Diversify Product Lines to Optimize Market Expansion
One of the effective ways to scale your eCommerce business efficiently is by offering various products. It’s like opening new doors for your business — you can reach more people and make the existing customers stick around longer.
But that’s not all: Product diversification also helps you manage risks. You see, in case one product line isn’t doing well, you still have other sources of income. It’s like having multiple streams that can lead to a river — the more tributaries you have, the bigger the river will be.
Wondering if it really works? Amazon is a prime example of how product line diversification can help you grow your business. Jeff Bezos began it as a book-selling website but later expanded it to cover the different markets we see today.
You can do this, too, by adding related items or even completely new types of things that fit well with what you’re good at. Just make sure your eCommerce brand trust stays intact as you grow.
3. Enhancing User Experience to Grow Your Business
If your customers find shopping with you unpleasant, chances of them returning are minimal — and that’s a dangerous fate.
So, make the customer journey on your online store more fun and stress-free.
Here are some of the tips on how you can achieve that:
- Invest in an aesthetically pleasing website: Did you know a potential customer takes 50 milliseconds on average to know whether they’ll stick around on your website or bounce back?
Give them every reason to linger on your virtual store by creating an aesthetically appealing website that offers them a positive first impression.
- Have a mobile version of your website: Recent stats suggest that almost three-quarters of retail site visits are via mobile phones. Hence, failing to avail a mobile version of your website is a sure recipe for failure.
- Minimize load times: Even the slightest load delays can affect customer satisfaction and, ultimately, your bottom line. The average shopper expects a website to load within 2 seconds, and 40% of them will leave when load time exceeds 3 seconds.
- Add convenience features: Incorporate search filters and a product search tab, and strategically positioning the buttons to make the website thumb-friendly.
And, of course, user experience doesn’t stop at site design. It encompasses everything from browsing to checkout. Streamline the process, offer multiple payment options, and consider integrating features like live chat customer support for instantaneous customer assistance.
4. Leveraging Data for Informed Decisions
Data is like a not-so-secret weapon for eCommerce businesses trying to grow. It helps us understand how customers behave, predict trends, and make smart decisions based on how well things are going.
First, collect the right data from your eCommerce platform. Check things like how much you’re selling, who your customers are, and how many people visit your site. Google Analytics can help with this. It’s free, intuitively designed, and highly customizable.
Once you’ve got the data, understand it. Look for opportunities to make your business even better and figure out what’s already working well. Always remember decisions based on data are much better than random ones.
5. Implement Customer Retention Strategies As You Scale Your Business
Attracting new customers to your online store is important, but what really keeps your business growing steadily is keeping the ones you already have. Statistics show that current customers spend 67% more than new ones, so the key to keeping your profits high when scaling a business is to ensure that you effectively retain your repeat customers even as you bring in the new ones.
Strategies like loyalty programs, personalized communication, and great post-purchase support can strengthen customer relationships and foster retention.
Check out leaders in eCommerce and service and hospitality industries for ideas on how to keep your customer base.
Take Starbucks, for instance — their loyalty program is praised for working really well. They allow you to earn stars every time you shop with them, redeemable at a low threshold of 25 for food, drinks, and other items.
Learn from them, talk to your customers, and ensure they know you appreciate them even after they make a purchase for the first time.
6. Exploring Multiple Sales Channels
To achieve big growth, spread your wings wide. Don’t only count on your company’s website. Target in other areas to sell your stuff.
This may include:
- Social media
- Email marketing campaigns
- Mobile apps
- White labels
With these multiple channels, you can reach different groups of people. Every new place you sell is a chance to get more attention and increase sales. When expanding, pick the places that match your brand and the people you’re trying to reach.
For instance, if targeting a younger crowd, opt for social media platforms that resonate with them. This includes Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. You can also consider opening a print-on-demand store on Etsy. Etsy is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms for selling online.
7. Efficient Supply Chain and Inventory Management
Making your online store work well is super important when trying to make it bigger. Make sure your supply chain and inventory management are top-notch. This way, you can handle more orders without making deliveries slower or worse in quality.
Use special inventory management software to be good at managing what’s in your stock. This helps you keep a close eye on what you have and avoid running out, which can mean losing sales and making customers unhappy.
Where possible, outsource professional logistics providers to handle functions like order fulfillment when necessary. This makes everything smoother and ensures that your customers receive professional-grade delivery services.
Additionally, exploring opportunities to source goods from overseas inexpensively can be a strategic move, contributing to cost-effectiveness in your supply chain and ensuring seamless order fulfillment through professional logistics providers.
8. Digital Marketing Is Key When Growing a Business
Boosting your online shop using a digital marketing strategy is super important. This is how you make more people know about your store, get new customers, and keep the ones you already have, all while selling more stuff.
Put your money into a full digital marketing plan. This means doing things like making sure your store shows up in search engines (that’s SEO), using paid ads like pay-per-click (PPC) in search engines (that’s SEM), and advertising on social media.
And yes, remember to create helpful content with strategic keywords to direct your potential shoppers to your store and inspire long-term relationships with them.
It’s one of the ways eCommerce businesses are using to drive traffic to their stores, and it’s proving to work wonders! A 2024 report shows that using this technique, also known as inbound marketing, attracts a whopping 50% more sales. And who wouldn’t want that for their online business?
By marketing your business, your product pages will move up in search engine results and get the attention of possible customers.
9. Grow Your Business Without Borders
Don’t be afraid to venture into international trade waters. Extending your eCommerce store beyond borders is one of the ways to scale your business, but it brings its own challenges. The secret is to adapt your plan for each new place’s culture, language, and what people like.
Know the challenges you’ll face, like how much it costs to send things and the rules for bringing stuff in. Have a plan to deal with them. But the most important thing is to be open to a new place, see things in a new way, and still stay true to your brand.
10. Financial Planning and Funding
Scaling eCommerce business involves bringing in money, time and resources. On the financial aspect, plan your budget carefully, predict your future financial needs accurately, and figure out how to get the money, whether it’s through loans, grants, subsidies, angel investors, business lines of credit, or using your profits again.
The key is to create a strong financial plan, putting your money where it can bring in the most.
Here are some tips for good financial planning:
- Smart Budgeting: Make a detailed budget that matches your growth plans, ensuring you spend your money wisely. And remember the essence of having security funds as a buffer should new costs come in.
- Accurate Predictions: Use data and insights to estimate how much money you’ll need in the future. This helps you make smart decisions and avoid problems.
- Strategic Funding: Look at different money sources, like loans or finding investors, and choose the method that fits with your long-term plans.
- Return on Investment (ROI): Focus on spending money in areas where you can make the most back. This keeps your growth steady and sustainable.
Always keep a philosophy of growing a business in a way that’s good for the long term. This means having a strong and flexible plan for your money. By following this approach, you might be well on your way to getting bigger while staying financially strong.
11. Embrace Technology and Automation
Technology is like a trusted sidekick in today’s business world, especially for online stores that want to scale up. Automation, powered by computer tools like AI, can make a big difference in how much your business can grow.
Here are some strategies to use technology when it comes to eCommerce:
- Automated Inventory Management: Use AI to keep track of what you have in stock. This helps ensure you always know what you have and when to get more.
- Personalized Customer Experiences: With AI, you can customize interactions based on what each customer likes, even if you have a lot of customers. We even have software like Notix that can help you retarget abandoned carts.
Learn from successful businesses that are good with technology, like how Amazon uses AI to suggest things based on what customers do online.
Be ready to try new tools and platforms quickly, just like Amazon keeps exploring new technologies. By doing this, your store can confidently take the next big step in the ever-changing world of eCommerce.
12. Carry Out Continuous Monitoring and Adaptation
Adopting a flexible expansion strategy is crucial for you as a business owner in the ever-evolving realm of online trade. You can remain adaptable by keenly observing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), actively seeking input from customers, and adjusting approaches to match the changing market environment.
Here are some guiding principles for agile expansion:
- Ongoing Surveillance: Maintain a watchful eye on KPIs like conversion rate, gross number of sales, customer lifetime value, website traffic, and other essential metrics.
- Customer Insights: Gather and assess customer reviews to comprehend evolving preferences and expectations.
- Flexibility: Stay agile and responsive; what worked well yesterday may not be applicable tomorrow. Be prepared to adjust strategies swiftly as necessary.
- Business Model Flexibility: Be willing to modify your business model as market conditions shift, ensuring alignment with long-term, sustainable growth goals.
Embrace a mindset of continuous adaptation, always striving for sustainable, long-term progress. By staying adaptable and responsive to the dynamic eCommerce industry, your business can navigate uncertainties and capitalize on opportunities for ongoing advancement.
13. Perform Competitive Analysis for Sustainable Growth
In a world full of competition, knowing what your rivals are up to can help you find gaps in the market or make your own plans better. Regularly focusing on your competition will keep you sharp and help you grow your business without falling into similar pitfalls.
Use what you learn from watching your competitors to improve your online selling strategies, attract customers to your online shop, create a strong brand awareness, and stay ahead of everyone else.
But remember, the aim isn’t just to copy what others are doing; it’s to be better and do better than them.
14. Implement Ways to Scale Your eCommerce Business Responsibly
The idea to take your business to the next level is exciting, but it’s crucial to approach it carefully. Growing too fast can use up important resources and might make your services less appealing.
So, it’s really important to keep up the high standards that made you build brand trust in the first place as you get bigger.
Responsibility in growing your business goes beyond just keeping the service quality high; it also means taking care of your team and thinking about the environment.
When planning to start scaling, using sustainable practices is a good idea. This means making choices that are good for the environment and thinking about how your actions might affect everything around you.
When you use environmentally responsible practices in your plan, it not only fits with what’s happening globally but also tells everyone involved that you care about what might happen in the long run because of your business decisions.
As you plan for growth, consider how to take care of your team. A happy and motivated customer service team is the linchpin to keeping the quality of your services high.
15. Real-World Success Stories
Learning from real life is often the best way. We have a few examples proving that growing smartly can bring success.
Let’s look at them:
1. Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s is a tasty ice cream brand that cares about doing good. It began as a small shop in Vermont and is now known worldwide with many stores.
They kept doing what they set out to do: using things from nearby, supporting fair trade, and speaking up for social causes. This helped them build a solid brand image and made them different from other similar businesses.
Patagonia, a company that makes outdoor clothes, cares about sustainability in everything they do. They use recyclable materials and make their clothes in a way that’s good for the environment.
This shows you can have a successful business while looking after the planet. Because Patagonia focuses on sustainability, people recognize and trust them and the business has grown exponentially.
Lastly, there’s Airbnb, a website where people can rent places to stay for vacations. It changed how hotels usually work. It began when two friends rented out air mattresses in their home to make some extra money.
By growing in a smart way and coming up with new ideas, they’ve become a big name in hospitality worldwide with lots of loyal customers. They also care about including everyone, promoting travel experiences that welcome everyone, and supporting communities often left out.
These real stories show that small businesses can become a dominant force without losing what they believe in. It’s not just about harvesting huge profits as an eCommerce business. Nowadays and in the days to come, it’s also about doing what’s good for people and the planet.
Scaling up your eCommerce business is possible. But first, lay a strong foundation and know what it takes to grow and scale your business to the next level. Think outside the box, get the strategies for growth and expansion in place, and do it gently and steadily without losing your core principles.
In addition, embrace sustainability, and never be shy about taking a step back when needed and re-evaluating your progress. Keep in mind that every business is different, and taking a step back can actually lead you to take several steps forward in the long run.