How to Scale Without Losing It All

How to scale without losing it allBefore you make any sudden moves, learn and monitor these ecommerce KPIs.  

As an ecommerce business grows, the necessity to meet market demands grows, too. In this fast moving industry, scalability is so important, it is one of the major reasons why nine out of every 10 online businesses will ultimately fail. Growing strategically also requires consistency. Scalability cannot be completed once and then be forgotten about. Fast, unsustainable growth can be as devastating as slow growth. The challenge for most ecommerce businesses is trying to find the sweet spot right in the middle.How to Scale Without Losing It All: Before you make any sudden moves, learn and monitor these #ecommerce KPIs. Click To Tweet

A large part of scaling ultimately comes down to the owner’s ability to see growth in the context of the bigger picture. If a seller moves too quickly and the business isn’t ready for such expanded growth, the effects can be just as devastating as moving too slowly and letting the competition swallow the business whole. Scalability is a balancing act that should be attempted with caution—and a full understanding of the risks.

With that in mind, here are crucial data points ecommerce sellers can actively and routinely assess to help strike the right balance when scaling. Continue reading

How Small Data Drives Ecommerce ROI

How Small Data Drives Ecommerce ROIThe power-packed metrics that will have a big impact on your bottom line

Data is a hot topic lately. If you sell online, you know that order information from your marketplace stores enables the massive big data feeds of Amazon and the like to predict broad consumer behavior and seasonality, manage prices and fees across the channel, and control their interests in the inventory and fulfillment industries globally. While you’re powering someone else’s data, it also seems like every day you’re told to climb aboard the big data bandwagon where you, too, can ride into the sunset of freedom and happiness of higher sales, profit, and success.The power-packed #ecommerce metrics that have the biggest impact on your bottom line #profits #Unify Click To Tweet

But when it comes to practical application of collecting data and understanding the insights they offer, you draw a blank. You’re not alone. Turns out, 94% of companies across all levels have experienced internal challenges when trying to improve their data quality. One could theorize that this dissatisfaction may stem from sheer size and that big data has just become too big. Case in point: The fact is, every second of every day we create new data. To understand the scale, 40,000 Google search queries are performed every second, which makes it 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year. Each of those, at a minimum, creates new keyword and search ranking data. On a more relevant note, while it’s wonderful that Amazon has 304 million active customer accounts worldwide, what can you learn about tapping into that fire hose, or more specifically, why does your store suddenly and inexplicable have a following from Stanley, Idaho? Continue reading

Key Metrics Guaranteed to Boost Online Sales

Key Metrics Guaranteed to Boost Online SalesThe most important KPIs ecommerce businesses should be monitoring and why

“Metrics,” “KPIs,” and “analytics” have been buzzwords in ecommerce for at least a decade, but as is often the case with any SMB-heavy industry, individual sellers have been left to their own devices to figure out how to first find, then understand, meaningful information amid the piles of data their stores cough up every day.

To help move the discussion beyond the realm of buzzwords and into something useful, this simple primer of important ecommerce metrics spells out specific KPIs that relate to multichannel selling, customers, and products as well as why these key indicators are important to the health—and growth—of your online retail business.#KPIs guaranteed to boost #ecommerce sales #Unify #noexcuses Click To Tweet

Multichannel Metrics
Selling in different online locations has its own special set of challenges, the toughest of which is getting big-picture perspective on your business when every online retail entity has its own way of managing your sales data. These metrics will allow you to be strategic about how and where you sell, in a world where the list of niche sales channels grows every day.

Total Average Order Value (AOV)
The average order value is total order value of all orders over a time period, divided by the total number of orders in that same time period. Simply put, this is the average total collected from a customer, per order. Not-so-simply put: To get value out of the calculation, you’ll need to weed out unrelated amounts like taxes or marketplace fees, while completely accounting for the item prices, shipping revenue, and any discounts applied to orders.
Why is this important? Knowing AOV allows you to better plan discount initiatives, set accurate parameters for free shipping, more effectively track the value of new or returning customers, and project the number of new orders needed to hit revenue targets.

Collectible AOV
The Collectible AOV is the dollar-value that your company can actually collect in cash. Essentially, this is an important extension of your AOV which subtracts out your payment processor fees, since they are unavoidable across the board for your business. While your shipping and inventory expenditures can vary—and are often outflows of cash as opposed to deductions from cash receipts, payment processor fees, and, in some cases, marketplace fees—it is important to remove them from AOV to better depict cash movements.
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Sensible Is the New Sexy

Sensiblel is the new sexyWhy sellers should commit to back-end operations before pursuing just another pretty piece of SaaS

At the risk of over-simplifying the ecommerce industry, most of its software falls into one of two categories — sexy and unsexy. Inevitably, the more seductive side of selling entices business owners to buy tools they must have to attract customers, such as beautiful websites, video tools, artificial intelligence, marketing automation, and the like. Because owners think they need customer-facing tools in order to sell online—and because they’re more fun to use—they put tremendous business resources toward these shiny objects.Why #online #sellers should commit to back-end ops before pursuing another pretty piece of #SaaS #Unify Click To Tweet

The truth is, sellers who first invest in the software that does the heavy lifting around data and order management are far more likely to survive their first year. Because the less showy, “boring” side of the business is what sellers actually use to run the company, without it, they are sure to fail. Among dozens of other tasks, this is the software that allows them to

  • automatically post and sync sales data to accounting, inventory, and shipping
  • easily track expenses, fees, and costs to calculate profits
  • process returns and exchanges
  • transfer payment from their customers to their bank account
  • manufacture or source their products
  • ship products, track inventory, see what’s in and out of stock
  • calculate, validate, and collect sales tax

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Foolproof Hacks for Small Marketing Teams, Part 2

Foolproof Hacks for Small Marketing Teams, Part 25 Advanced solutions for managers who want to take it up a notch

Aside from working an unsustainable 70-hour work week and hiring expensive contractors, there are few additional—somewhat more complex—things managers can do to get the work done, run an efficient department, and foster a sane work environment for all.

  1. Implement a marketing technology stack. To make you all more efficient, accept that you’ll need to leverage the appropriate tools. Sometimes companies make the mistake of waiting too long to implement tools that, in the long run, would save time, help with lead acquisition, increase conversion rates, and provide a better understanding of your different programs. As soon as you can, start implementing modern marketing solutions such as automation tools, collaboration software, and customer relationship management. First you’ll need to figure out what tools are right for you, but the sooner you can start implementing some of that infrastructure, the easier your life will be in the long run.When you take over a small team, look at the historical efficacy of the technology tools that are already in place. Because product improvements and features change quickly, take time to evaluate each tool’s cost and how it’s being used. Take a look at how you can improve their efficacy or get rid of them altogether and find something more useful for the same cost or less.And don’t be afraid to plan for a miracle. In my experience, whenever there’s extra budget at the end of a fiscal year, you have about five minutes to decide what to do with it, otherwise, it’s gone. To prevent impulsive decisions based on panic, keep a prioritized wish list of solutions you would implement if you had the budget such as bringing in a contractor to handle PR, automating workflows, utilizing an A/B testing program, or outsourcing a big web development project. Have a business case about what each of these would cost and help you accomplish so you’re list is realistic and your recommendation is taken seriously.
  1. Develop regular maintenance processes so you can do ad hoc projects without upsetting the apple cart. Maintenance is not the most job in the world, but there will always be basic things that you need to cross off the proverbial list every day or week. The more you can turn those tasks into processed, automatic to-dos, the more time you’ll have for moments of creativity, strategic planning, crisis management, or inevitable ad hoc projects. When your goals and plans are in place and your workflows are predictable, introducing process can help you find some much needed breathing space in your schedule.  
  1. Test, test, A/B/C/D/E test. Be proactive by creating a regular practice of A/B testing. Test everything from messages, images, concepts, forms, etc. This will help you more easily introduce innovation and problem solving to a small team. When you’re a small team, sometimes you’re just trying to get through the day and innovation falls by the wayside. A/B testing your messaging on a regular basis will help you become more proactive versus reactive. It’ll help you get to a message that resonates with your audience faster, and it will actually make your team look larger than it really is.A/B testing can be pretty simple. Whether it’s comparing the subject line of an email that’s going out or the titles of webinars or articles, there are several cost-effective, easy ways to test. In the long run, if you can hone your message and learn what really works for which audiences, you’ll save your team bucketloads of time and money.
  1. Measure. Decide what you want to measure, why and how you will use the information to improve on programs. This can be a bit more complicated than it sounds. Oftentimes, folks want look at the number of leads I brought in. But if the leads themselves aren’t going to sales until they’re sales-qualified leads, then is that metric really helping? Are you looking at the conversion rate versus the number? Do you care if they’re MQL and then SQL? Clearly there are many different ways to measure.First figure out what number is going to help you prove the impact that your marketing programs are having. Then collaborate with the sales and executive management teams to understand what they’re looking at and for. And if you can handle being brutally honest, figure out what measurement is going to justify your existence and budget as a marketing team.
  1. Put your measurements into action. Once you come up with reports, frequencies, and levels of detail that make sense to put everyone on the same page. The goal is to understand the impact your programs are having so that they can be modified, left alone, or enhanced with more budget.It’s a pretty common scenario—marketing managers think their reports are just phenomenal (and they are), but then they don’t do anything with that information. I recommend using those measurements to help you define and inform your next set of programs, or determine the next partnership that you’re going pursue, or guide your next messaging campaign. Use your measurements to leverage resources to then continue planning. When you look at the measurements and are able to start incorporating some of the findings into your future programs, you should start seeing impact on a monthly basis.

How do you know if these advanced hacks are working for you? From an external standpoint, when your brand or company is perceived as larger than it is, you’ll know you’ve done a phenomenal job. And when your partners and customers assume that your business is more established and experienced than it is, you’ll know you’re on the right track.