Scaling an ecommerce business isn’t easy. Being unprepared to deal with a sudden rush of orders is even harder.
Many entrepreneurs struggle with rapid growth and overwork themselves trying to keep things running smoothly.
But here’s the honest truth…
There’s too much to do and it’s impossible to do it all on your own. The most successful businesses rely on software, employees, and other people to succeed.
And knowing when and how to scale is another challenge. The reality is, you have to really understand your business if you want to scale. This means understanding your ecommerce
platform, your employees, and the technology you will need to see serious growth.
And even if you do everything right, you can still fail if you time it poorly. Sometimes you scale too soon, racking up too much debt, while other times you may scale too late and miss your opportunity for explosive growth.
A lot of companies didn’t understand scaling and failed when the ecommerce industry first took off. If you aren’t prepared to deal with future business, you may as well not be in business at all.
If your business sees rapid growth, you’re probably going to need to scale your operations. And scaling your operations will require more than just a basic shopping cart and a Shopify theme.
What happens if your sales spike?
Handling a massive influx of new orders without the proper systems in place is extremely stressful. Whatever small business ecommerce solution you are using must be able to handle current and future demand.
You will want to choose an ecommerce solution that can handle all of your business’s needs, big or small.
Using Automation to Scale Your Ecommerce Business
Automation is a word that all entrepreneurs must be familiar with. The more you can automate, the more you can focus on other parts of your business.
In the world of ecommerce, automation refers to automating processes using computer inputs. The only way you can eliminate human error is by implementing the right software to help you automate those processes in the first place.
Don’t worry, A.I. isn’t taking over. You’re always going to need the human touch, but the more your systems are connected and interconnected, the better you can expect them to perform.
Automating your ecommerce business usually means:
- Connecting to online payment systems
- Building inventory lists
- Logging all relevant data
- Filling and printing shipping labels
- Recording all sales
It is important that you automate processes like these no matter what stage you are in. Doing so will provide you with more time to focus on other important areas of your business that you cannot automate.
Here’s an example:
If you are running an ecommerce business, the last thing you want to do is handwrite your shipping labels. There are so many plugins, apps, and programs that will take care of that for you. Still, some stubborn business owners still manually enter and print their own shipping labels.
Don’t make that mistake!
Where would Amazon be today if they were still using inefficient methods like this? The answer is pretty easy.
Focusing on Fulfillment to Scale Your Ecommerce Business
A large part of scaling your e-commerce business is making sure you are ready to fulfill orders for today and tomorrow.
Poorly managing your order fulfillment can and will lead to shipping mistakes.
And guess what?
These types of mistakes will result in late shipments, missing items, and damaged goods and that is the quickest way to lose a customer forever.
There are many reasons why the fulfillment part of your business is holding you back.
Maybe you aren’t being notified about new orders quickly enough. A reliable shopping cart with built-in notification is an easy solution to that problem.
Other times you may find yourself explaining to your customers why you have run out of stock.
They don’t care and they will expect you to fix the problem. An easy way to fix that is to have a solid inventory management system in place.
But there’s one major problem.
Even though technology does a lot of good for your ecommerce business, you’ll still need to hire employees as your business grows.
If you find that your fulfillment is holding you back and that your spending far too many resources on it, it may be time to shake things up. One way to solve this problem is to outsource your fulfillment to a third party. One of the greatest examples of this is Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA).
Using Technology to Scale Your Ecommerce Business
Any and all investments in technology should address an operational weakness.
Remember this rule:
Do not pay for expensive software that you don’t need, and never pay for anything that you can find for free.
A rule that we live by is to never pay more than 15% of your revenue for non-revenue driving expenses. It’s important to have the right tools, as this will help you scale, but keep track of your expenses unless you want them to sink you.
When selecting an ecommerce platform, take the time to select one that can help you scale in the long-term.
Everyone faces this challenge…
The idea of trying to satisfy your immediate needs, while also future-proofing your business. It can seem rather impossible at first, but it is possible with the right platforms.
Whatever you do, don’t make this mistake
If you believe that all e-commerce websites are the same and only need to have product catalogs, provide a search bar for easy navigation, have a functional shopping cart, offer special promotions, and securely process transactions, you are wrong.
It isn’t that easy.
An e-commerce website can have all the features in the world, but it is nothing if it cant handle a surge in traffic and sales. As your website popularity increases, it needs to be able to scale without a lot of effort so you can avoid spending more money on managing these traffic surges. When starting out, take the time to research the different ecommerce platforms to determine which one is a best fit for your business.
There’s Only One Way to Find Out
At the end of the day, there’s only one way to get started. You have to identify your niche and start selling.
Getting started is often the hardest part, but the world of ecommerce is extremely rewarding when you do it right.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get selling.
The Kabbage Team is here to not only fund the small business loans you need, but to also help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Kabbage empowers small businesses through straightforward, flexible access to capital. We’ve extended more than $4 billion directly to small business owners and powered automated funding for other organizations all over the globe – all while maintaining a remarkably high laughter quotient.