Have shifts in the e-commerce market taken your store for a bumpy ride?
You’re not the only one. In fact, the changes have been so dramatic that this volatile period has become known as the E-commerce Reset.
Countless sellers are navigating the same unpredictable waters as the e-commerce market continues to change and evolve.
The bad news? It looks like the impact is here to stay.
But the good news is, many online retailers are still seeing strong sales and profitability simply by sticking with the core strategies that got them through the past two years.
However, the question remains. Now that the pandemic rush is fading, what are the real risks and opportunities high-growth sellers should be ready for?
If you’re actively looking for ways to increase sales and continue scaling your store despite an uncertain market, we’ve got you covered.
We’re pulling back the curtain on the top shifts affecting the world of e-commerce today and sharing nine practical ways you can continue building your e-commerce empire, no matter what’s happening in the world around you. Let’s get into it.
The Scoop on the E-commerce Reset
- Repercussions from market misreads bring uncertainty for all e-commerce players
- How to thrive as a seller no matter what happens in the market
- Ready to pandemic-proof your e-commerce business?
Access to capital is consistently ranked as one of the top five challenges for sellers. Learn more about how transparent e-commerce funding can help you build a resilient business.
Repercussions from market misreads bring uncertainty for all e-commerce players
As an online retailer in a booming e-commerce market, you’ve probably experienced huge growth over the past couple of years. But that growth has come with a price.
While the e-commerce market has grown exponentially, inventory hasn’t always kept up. Modern shoppers have another offer waiting at their fingertips just as soon as they log into their email or hop onto social media.
The fallout for brands was a whopping $1 billion in missed sales due to outages according to the 2022 eCommerce Trends Report by eCommerce Fuel, which surveyed over 600 seven- and eight-figure stores.
The culprits at play? There are almost too many to count…
Pandemic-related market changes, high ad fees, rising shipping costs, and major supply chain issues, to name a few.
Seeing the e-commerce industry go from soaring heights to what must understandably feel like lukewarm sales hasn’t been easy. But while being a part of a booming industry was a dream come true for many, viewing the market through rose-colored lenses led to unrealistic expectations for many e-commerce players — even some of the biggest.
Because skyrocketing growth did come to a halt. Sales for essential products did drop year on year. And unfortunately, stores with a poor focus on long-term staying power did too.
Even titans like Amazon and Shopify saw stock prices drop so low that even Target outperformed them.
These repercussions — along with rising Amazon fees, inventory restrictions, and the aggregator market cool-down — have brought uncertainty for anyone involved in the e-commerce game. Not to mention the number of brand owners that inadvertently over-hired, over-stocked, and over-built in hopes of holding onto high sales growth.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The key is to get strategic about growing your business, no matter what the world throws at you.
By focusing on creating a resilient e-commerce business that can withstand even the most treacherous waters, you can set yourself up for a lifetime of growth.
How to thrive as a seller no matter what happens in the market
Thriving as a seller in an unpredictable market requires an entire mindset shift.
Your success as a seller will depend on how motivated you are to take the necessary steps to build a sustainable business.
Let’s dive into nine ways you can let go of quick wins and focus on consistently generating long-term sales and profits.
Build a Brand, Not a Store
Focusing on the long haul means not losing your special sauce as you scale so you can stay competitive and build a lasting business.
In other words, don’t think like a store — think like a brand:
- Leverage your brand story across sales channels.
- Build your own loyal audience.
- Align your operations with your brand values.
When the team behind the previously mentioned eCommerce Fuel report asked top-performing store owners for their secret to sales and profitability, the most successful stores were 6X more likely to cite ‘branding and storytelling’ as their competitive advantage.
Not only that, winning brands were 77% more likely to manufacture their own product, in what was described by the eCommerce Fuel team as “a truly potent combination.”
The formula is clear. A great product + a great brand = genuine staying power (without relying on traffic from paid ads).
Create a Strategy for Slow Turnarounds
Container delays, congested ports, and inventory management challenges wreak havoc on turnaround times. So how can you approach a challenging supply chain when so much is out of your control?
Focus on what you can control. But be smart about it.
For instance, if you sell retail-grade display cases, can you afford to set up in-house production? If in-house production would put too much pressure on your bottom line, can you lock arms with local metal and glass suppliers instead?
Know when to cut out the middle man versus when to get creative.
The report also found that the brands with the best profitability were 25% more likely to outsource warehouse operations but of course, this is all relative to your unique niche, category, and storage strategy. What works for a DTC wellness brand probably won’t work for a wholesale electronics seller. Always keep your unique needs at the forefront.
Become a Seamless Operator
It’s no surprise that having business operations that work like a well-oiled machine is pivotal to creating a business with longevity.
The eCommerce Fuel report found that, arm-in-arm with brand storytelling and manufacturing, operational efficiency had just as big an impact on a brand’s likelihood of success — with those in the growing and profitable group having half as many people on their payroll, being 25% more likely to outsource warehouse operations and 25% less reliant on paid traffic.
But when the rubber meets the road, it’s a lot easier said than done.
To become a seamless operator, make sure to:
- Optimize your supply chain strategy
- Know your best marketing channels
- Have a clear and documented process for everything you do
- Automate as many redundant tasks as you can
- Document and operate your hiring and onboarding process
Create and Implement an Organic Marketing Strategy
Did you know the average seller spends about $268.21 a day on Amazon PPC?
With ad costs on the rise, there’s never been a more important time to supplement ads with other tactics that can help you reach your marketing goals while protecting your ROI.
Enter: Organic marketing.
Drive more traffic and conversions by taking advantage of organic marketing tactics, like optimizing for search, publishing blog content, managing an email list, and building a social media following.
And don’t forget to infuse your brand’s story into all of the above.
While you’re at it, why not go ahead and get a head start on key SEO shifts too? If you haven’t already, make the switch from Google Universal Analytics to G4. If possible, lock arms with an SEO strategist to learn about other strategies, such as ethical link-building practices.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Inventory Levels Across All Platforms
Your inventory levels can make or break the customer experience and your business’s bottom line if you’re not careful.
That’s why it’s essential to implement an inventory forecasting and management process your team can navigate with ease.
Since inventory thresholds vary by platform and can change on a dime, you’ll need to monitor your levels on each platform to ensure you’re keeping all of them above target at all times.
Here are a few quick tips you can follow to help you stay above target:
- Use reliable forecasts to predict seasonal demand: Opt for an automated or AI-enabled inventory forecasting system that can analyze your store’s most up-to-date data in real time.
- Automate repetitive stock-keeping tasks: Outsource time-sucking stock-keeping tasks to tech. For instance, set up automatic approvals for shipping quotes and automate stock counts.
- Get ready earlier than usual: Start your seasonal stock orders at least four months before or sooner.
Craving more sales-friendly inventory tips like these? Check out our article: Need Seasonal Inventory? Start Now to Avoid Headaches Later.
Don’t Forget About Product Innovation
Becoming an e-commerce brand with staying power means radically accepting the need to evolve over time. As your business grows, so do your customers’ ever-changing demands.
And that’s where product innovation truly shines.
By creating new products in line with your audience’s evolving preferences, you can support them along the buyer’s journey, no matter how often their needs change.
So ask your customers what products they’d love to buy from you. Ask them how to improve your best-sellers. Then, specialize, test, and innovate. Rinse and repeat.
Implement a Customer-Focused Company Culture
Let’s face it. You can’t bet the farm based on what’s going to happen with paid acquisition costs. Successful brands focus on building a loyal customer base and know how to earn more from their existing fans and shoppers.
So make sure your current customers are happy. Implement a customer-focused company culture by keeping customers in the loop about their orders and delays before they come to you — they should never have to ask.
Offer plenty of customer support options, such as:
- A knowledge base for self-service support
- Chatbot support
- Online chat support with real customer representatives
- Email support
- Call-in support
- In-app messaging support
- Social media messaging support
Place an extra close focus on customer experience concerns too, such as slow checkout, poor store and website navigation, and generic product recommendations. All of this can be optimized for a better customer experience across the board.
Build Strong Relationships with Storage and Shipping Providers
Anyone who’s been there knows: Solid relationships with storage and shipping providers can be a godsend in unpredictable times.
Be sure to find providers near your allocated warehouses so they can get inventory to your chosen marketplaces as quickly as possible.
When looking for suppliers in your territory, partner up with ones that have a record for providing goods quickly. Be sure to vet suppliers based on their customer service process, shipping times, and product quality.
Another pro tip: Complete your paperwork ahead of time so you can avoid delays and take off from the get-go.
Strengthen Your Cash Flow
Dealing with high fees, low capital, or a fluctuating ROI? Then this is your sign from above — it’s time to futureproof your finances.
Find out what’s contributing to your cash flow challenges, then start implementing solutions to improve it. For instance, are you overspending on slow-moving inventory? Get strategic about how to get the products off your shelves — think blitz sales days — and opt for more innovative products in the future.
Dig into which fees you’re paying and see if there’s any way to subsidize them by increasing your product prices or cutting costs in another department. You can also eliminate unnecessary fees by being honest about what you actually need vs. what’s really more of a nice-to-have.
And as far as low capital goes, we got you covered. 🍾
At SellersFunding, we provide two core types of e-commerce funding solutions for sellers just like you:
- Working Capital: Flexible funding for your forecasted seasonal inventory or longer-term business investments. A flexible line of credit allows you to invest in the stock, tech, and human resources you’ll need for a smooth holiday season. We can approve credit limits of up to $5 million in 48 hours or less and you’ll only pay interest on the amount you use.
- Daily Advance: Forecasting is great, but it can’t account for every eventuality. So if you’re facing a sudden holiday rush and need to invest in more inventory ASAP, the Daily Advance solution allows you to release up to 90% of the previous day’s net sales and negotiate repayments up to 2-6 months later. Repayments are based on how much revenue you make each month, not fixed amounts.
Moving your e-commerce business forward no matter what
Feeling motivated to futureproof your business? You should be.
Remember that while shifts in the market will always come and go, sound business operations and a commitment to building a lasting brand can set you up to succeed no matter what.
We hope the strategies we’ve shared today will help you breathe a sigh of relief and inspire you to think long-term. By setting goals aligned with lasting growth and big-picture thinking, you can create the business you’ve always dreamt of.
Psst: Need help bringing your vision to life? At SellersFunding, we’re committed to helping e-commerce entrepreneurs achieve their goals, no matter how big or small. Whether you need funding solutions or growth-maximizing tools, we’ve got you covered.
Check out our quick two-minute demo to learn more about how we can help you succeed.