Few would question the transformative impact e-commerce has had on modern retailing in the last 20 or so years. However, as the online shopping revolution comes of age, efficiency and streamlining have become the watchwords of the world’s most successful e-retailers.
With such high stakes online from rivals – coupled with the fact that consumers are only a couple of clicks away from shopping with a competitor – has come the need for e-com firms to find ways to stand out. From being able to offer lower prices, better service, or quicker delivery, below are just a few ways you could consider to gain a competitive edge over your market challengers and improve your bottom line while solidifying your chances of long-term success.
Take time to source the best suppliers
In the same way your customers shop around for the best deal, so you should take some time to find the highest quality, most reliable suppliers that offer the greatest value at the most competitive price. Your return on investment (ROI) will be influenced by multiple factors – but front and center will always be your cost of production and supply. These elements can include everything from the base prices charged by your product suppliers to the cost of producing your e-com website or your choice of fulfillment channel.
When it comes to product suppliers, you should aim to leverage greater control by negotiating terms that suit both parties, including bulk discounts. Also, where possible, try to eliminate middle-men operators and instead work directly with the manufacturer – you will almost always achieve lower prices.
When it comes to product fulfillment and delivery, remember there is now a variety of competitive options open to businesses, including choosing to work with shipping work companies that can help you find the best price from their enlisted courier companies. These hub sites allow you to test it for yourself and check the best rates for the service you require.
Consider adopting the drop shipping model
Although relatively new, the concept of drop shipping could have a huge effect on your profit line while also largely negating risk on your part. With a dropshipping business, you simply sell products for companies without having to invest in stock yourself. This dramatically reduces your initial outlay while also greatly simplifying how you sell – and then deliver – goods.
With today’s improved stock control systems, better connection speeds, and more transparent business operations, a dropshipping business can hold virtual ‘stock’ by tapping direct into the inventory systems used by manufacturing companies. In effect, this means you can populate your site with product images and descriptions (plus available supply levels) – but without ever having to buy the stock.
If you’re tentative about leaping running your first e-com business – or are just looking for ways to streamline your existing operations – dropshipping might just prove to be the best route for you to get started with the least possible risk and start-up investment.
Spend time and money on your digital marketing and SEO
Although research stats vary, it’s estimated around 71% of all consumer journeys start with an online search. In a world with more web pages than people, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for sites to stand out from the crowd and attract new customers. However, one of the primary ways you can do this is by appearing high up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) through a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process.
The tactics and tricks involved in successful SEO are far too in-depth and complex to cover in this article adequately. Still, if you want the best results, you should look at working with a professional web marketing company. Don’t forget also to take advantage of the considerable benefits offered by social media channels to build brand loyalty while also forming a lasting, direct connection with your clients.
Automate everything you can
Today, artificial intelligence (AI) is barely out of the news, and the tech is rapidly transforming what robots and computers were previously considered capable of performing. With the mass rollout of systems like ChatGPT, we are being given an intriguing early glimpse into the potential for autonomous machines to generate original ideas and perform tasks that would have otherwise taken humans substantially longer to perform.
AI has the potential to completely transform the future workplace as humans and machines work together in augmented harmony, achieving previously unimaginable levels of productivity and efficiency.
From the perspective of an e-com business, AI can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks with light-speed efficiency, freeing up your staff to concentrate on more productive and profitable endeavors. For example, if you implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) app into your sales channel, you will be able to automatically hand-hold your customers through the entire shopping process, from the first website visit right through to purchase and eventual after-sales follow-up communications.
Embrace, learn from, and improve through the power of analytics
The days of guesswork and stab-in-the-dark ordering and sales forecasts are long gone, and today’s analytics software can give you an accurate overhead view of exactly how your business is performing – plus any potential weak points or profit sinkholes.
As commerce moves more and more into the digital realm, so forward-thinking firms are starting to use analytics to study everything from the cost of acquiring clients (often called Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)) to Average Order Value (AOV), etc., and all presented on a per-client basis. This level of business analysis simply wasn’t possible in the analog age and is helping more tech-savvy companies gain significant advantages over their competitors.
Whether you like it or not, computers, AI, and tech are revolutionizing the modern commercial landscape – to the point only the leanest, most efficient companies will survive. Industry analysts suggest the world is currently undergoing a fourth industrial revolution, and just like the three before this one, the companies that are actively embracing tech and benefiting from its capabilities are those best prepared to thrive in this new digitally-driven commercial reality.