Go multi- (or omni) at your own risk, or follow these steps
Recently it has become clear that multitasking can be detrimental to both our productivity and our health. Research has found that multitasking inhibits our ability to successfully carry out simultaneous tasks, it can lower the IQ as much as 15 points, and increase the brain’s production of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s likely no coincidence that mindfulness and meditation are now all the rage. So whether you’re crunching your morning granola or creating a profitability spreadsheet, it’s all about paying attention, narrowing your focus, and clearing your thoughts.@ParagMamnani explains 3 ways to improve your focus and #sell more #online. #Webgility Click To Tweet
Counter-intuitively, trends in e-commerce insist upon diversification, spreading sales resources across both marketplaces and platforms, and employing a variety of specialized apps to run different parts of your business. If you plan to make any money in online retail, you’d better be able to manage multiple channels across geographic regions—in fact, among Webgility’s thousands of multi-channel customers, the average number of stores managed is 4 to 5. To up the complexity ante, those sellers who want to get and stay ahead of the technology curve need to become omnichannel, making sure their products are purchasable from any device or platform.
For those interested in having their e-commerce cake and eating it mindfully too, here are three ways to fine-tune your focus while successfully building a multi-faceted online retail empire.
1. Automate first, ask questions later
I always recommend setting up data automation before a single online sale is made. Because most folks who are new to e-commerce are not aware of what an enormous time suck manual data entry can be, it’s ideal for automation to be set up from the get-go. To draw a parallel: The responsibilities of running a physical store are managing the opening and closing, cleaning the space, stocking the shelves, and executing cash register transactions. Similarly, the responsibilities of selling online include managing the necessary transfer of data in all of its forms—recording sales information into accounting, keeping track of customers, notifying customers when orders are shipped, figuring out which items are out of stock.
Much like neglecting your brick-and-mortar location can lead to an unattractive storefront and dissatisfied customers, neglecting your financial data can quickly lead to lack of financial perspective, overselling, and bad reviews. If you’re not taking care of your data assets through automation, you are going to have to manually enter all of that data into the different systems or pay someone to do so. It goes without saying, data entry is an enormous waste of your time and leaves you vulnerable to inaccuracies. It may start out as a doable daily task, but soon enough you will be drowning in data—don’t wait until that day.
2. Grow through integration
“There’s an app for that” seemed like such a hopeful statement, it brought palpable opportunity to a world where technology can finally solve any problem and close any gap. Opportunity indeed—growth projections for the global SaaS market expecting it to go from $49B in 2015 to $67B in 2018. But as business tools are raining down from the cloud by the bucketload, we find ourselves pummeled and confused by their sheer volume and their puzzling inability to work together.
Yes, we want specialized tools to handle expertise that we don’t necessarily possess, such as collaboration, manufacturing, inventory management, order control, accounting, business analytics. But when it comes to transforming an SMB into an enterprise-level company, these apps often become limiting. What good is an order management tool if it doesn’t integrate with your business intelligence software? What good is a dropshipping tool if it doesn’t integrate with your inventory? Ensuring that your business apps integrate properly from the beginning will keep your operations unified and allow you to focus on growing the business strategically.
3. Be the hub of your business wheel
One beautiful aspect of the e-commerce industry as we know it is that there are no hard and fast rules about how to structure your business. The combinations are endless, whether you’re manufacturing and selling your own products, selling from a brick-and-mortar location in addition to online, selling on just platforms, just marketplaces, or a combination thereof. But all of that freedom can sometimes leave you feeling ungrounded, directionless, and scattered.
To ground your business in sheer practicality, I suggest structuring your company around a single source of truth and use it to run your business. Whether rhetorically or literally, picture that source—be it a dashboard for a specific set of metrics into which all of your data feeds or a tool that connects all of your revenue streams and expenses—as the sun of your e-commerce universe, the peaceful eye of your swirling sales hurricane, or the hub of your business wheel. Find tools that allow you to operate from a single command center and set a realistic pace for growth that allows for experimentation, failure, and agile expansion. You have choices, so make the choices work for you.
Most people sell online because their products inspire them, but on the vast Internet of things one must fiercely protect that inspiration from the industry’s compulsive efforts to distract and diversify. Focus is your only hope—may you find it (and happiness) while selling online.