Guest Blog from Patrick Foster
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Growth Hacking For Ecommerce Merchants 2017
Want to grow your very own ecommerce empire in 2017? Need to know how to have the biggest impact on sales and brand growth? Here are some growth hacking strategies you can adopt in 2017 to help your business make you more money. May 2017 be the year of ecommerce success for you…
Switch up your logistics
Logistics are at the heart of your business. You can waste a lot of money on packaging and postage if you don’t first optimize your processes.
- How are your current fulfilment arrangements working out for you? Would you benefit from switching to a different fulfilment service like Amazon FBA?
- Suppliers – are you still getting the best deal? Can you increase your share with your current supplier to get a better deal? Regularly review prices, and make sure you’re still getting the same level of service from them. Speak openly to your supplier and mention any deals you’ve seen elsewhere if you feel like they need a nudge!
- Make sure your products are the optimal dimensions for cheap and easy postage. Many marketplaces like Amazon have a standard size – if you go over, you might end up paying loads more just to send your products to your customers.
- Importing from overseas? Think about how many of your products fit into a shipping container. Don’t order loads of inventory if you’re not sure it will sell. Experiment with small batches at first.
- Use logistics to help you build a better brand. Your packaging and confirmation emails – what messages are they currently sending? Invest in those customer service moments and make sure that you’re putting your best foot forwards at all times.
Repricing software and pricing analysis can help you optimize your current product prices and make sure that you are shifting stock at the right price point.
- Keep an eye on profit margins. It can sometimes pay to sell things cheaply, but you don’t want to sell at loss leader pricing for too long.
- Winning the buy box on marketplaces with repricing software can be risky in the long-term, but for the difference of a few cents today, it can really pay off. Could this be a tactic for you?
- Struggling to shift a product? Need to offload some inventory? Explore stock liquidation options to get rid of deadweight merchandise. Sometimes you are better off starting again.
Find a profitable niche
It can pay off to diversify and start afresh in a new, unexplored niche.
Don’t feel like you have to always jump on the latest bandwagon, but you need to definitely consider new product options every now and then. They can help you grow market share and diversify your brand (as long as you aren’t putting loyal customers off).
- There are loads of ecommerce keyword and product research tools out there – some of them platform-specific, some of them more general. Have a good look around to get a real feel for a niche before you commit.
- It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the latest retail and search environment. Use tools like Google Trends to help you identify emerging keywords. Try to keep your finger on the pulse, and be ready to move with new products that makes sense for you (before everyone else gets there).
Going multichannel is a fantastic way to grow your ecommerce investment. Virtually at the click of the button you will be able to access more customers, and more sales.
Invest in expanding your current sales platforms, and build out your own dedicated store in order to grow.
- Multichannel inventory and data management can be complicated – you need the right tools to help you scale and manage your operations.
- Make sure that customer experience doesn’t suffer – don’t spread yourself too thin, too fast.
- Some channels will make more sense for your product or niche – make sure you conduct research before blindly diving in.
Revisit your mindset
The online world can be overwhelming.
Business growth blocks can also come from not having the right habits, or entrepreneurial mindset. It can be easy to become discouraged and be afraid to take risks.
- A lot of success comes from deep within, so make sure that you are still connected to the business and committed to its future. Cultivate the right mindset and adopt the right habits to help you succeed online.
- Why are you doing what you are doing? Connect with your ‘why’ more. Embrace the flexibility and the excitement of the choice you’ve made.
- Embrace the growth hacker mindset – it’s all about data, analytics, and quick wins.
Selling products on social platforms is a brilliant way to combine great content with relationship building.
- Social media advertising is cheap and can help you find new customers fast. As long as your ads are good and appropriate for the platform – you have a good chance of people clicking on them. Social campaigns are especially good for seasonal campaigns and time-specific offers. You want to invest in product listing ads (they tend to perform better), retargeting, and personalization to get the most out of your ad spend. Programmatic bidding is also growing on social.
- Great organic social media is all about great content and interaction. It’s more about the give and take, less about promotion. You need to be clear on what your audience want to hear in order to succeed. Here are some other social media marketing tips.
- Good reviews are super important on all seller marketplaces (and on your own store). Encourage people to leave honest reviews and deal with any negatives one quickly. Don’t let a bad experience spiral out of control on social.
Get ready for the big sales
Don’t get caught out in 2017 – start prepping for the big selling days in your annual calendar now.
By properly managing your sales strategies and product inventory, you can make a killing during peak sales times.
- Learn what worked for sellers during Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2016 and adopt the same strategies for yourself. (Mobile is only going to get more important – adapt your sales strategies for the mobile-first world).
- Other than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you need to prepare for other big seasonal events like Christmas, Valentine’s etc. Every niche and every product will have their own peak. Get to know your own, and ensure that you get a slice of the sales pie.
- Sponsored products can be a good way to make more sales on these important dates – put out some good ads in preparation, and save up your advertising budget for times when it will have the most impact.
Making money online can be a fickle business. Make sure that you stay switched on and take advantage of all the opportunities that present themselves to you. What new opportunities are you going to be exploring in 2017?
Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur & writer