More shoppers are heading online than ever, thanks to the rise of digital in recent years. But the flip side of this is that the level of competition has never been higher.
Whether you’re new to eCommerce or an established brand such as an SME, how can you ensure you stay ahead every step of the way?
In a new three-part series, 3-Step Guide to Small Business Success, Industry experts share their tips to help you streamline every stage of the buying process, while saving time and money.
- Partner with a website platform that can grow with you
In this digital world, the key to the success of any business is its website, which is the most essential element of any marketing plan.
When looking for a website platform, it is critical that a business understand their own business requirements and be able to partner with a platform that can not only provide them with an online presence, but also has the ability to help a business scale and grow. both locally and globally.
This means understanding if the platform has strong tools to support digital marketing, SEO, business management, payments, shipping (if needed), customer management, and customer lifetime value management.
“A platform must also be flexible to meet your design and functionality requirements and be able to adapt as the business grows from both a design and functionality perspective,” explains Nathan Archie, General Manager of Australia and New Zealand, at Wix. .
Many SMBs focus on core functionality and “the basics” without realizing that the decisions you make now impact your future success.
“It is important to have a well-designed website that is fast (load speed) and easy for a customer to navigate (able to shop quickly). Retailers need to spend time on the user journey and build their website around the customer journey and customer needs rather than what they think looks good,” says Archie.
“A website that has the ability to scale with your business is extremely important as it means you don’t have to spend more money to change platforms if you outgrow your current solution.”
Learn more: 3-Step Guide to Small Business Success, Part 1.
- Invest in automation now to save time and money
Many businesses think that automation is not for them, especially small businesses or those in the early days of trading. But according to David Boyer, country manager for ShipStation ANZ, almost any shipping-related task can be automated.
“Retailers often resist automation because they want the security of human verification. The irony is that manually checking the weight and shipping destination of each order (in addition to being tedious and time-consuming) is more likely to lead to errors,” explains Boyer.
“Automation helps reduce human error, so customers get the right products on time, every time.”
ShipStation’s shipping automation rules are one way to streamline workflows. Shipping automation rules are shipping tasks that you want to apply to a set of orders that meet certain criteria.
Those rules are executed when orders import and automate numerous actions that you would otherwise do manually.
They work in an “if this, then that” statement and are executed as the final step of your automation workflow. They allow for the highest degree of customization and allow you to automate complex shipping requirements.
Plus, the time you save when you automate means you can reduce staffing costs and spend that money and resources elsewhere.
“When it comes to shipping, retailers need to think about automation from the start. This way, they will be better prepared to scale their business, from a fulfillment standpoint, they can fulfill more orders in less time,” says Boyer.
“Your automation strategy can also grow and develop with the needs of the business.”
Learn more: Three-Step Guide to Small Business Success, Part 2.
- Think outside the (delivery) box with sustainable practices
According to Dennis Oates, director of logistics at Sendle, it’s a common misconception that the customer experience ends at checkout. However, returns are a crucial part of the customer experience and need to be built into your process.
“You can have the exact product a customer wants at a price they love and close the deal with an easy and convenient transaction. The customer won’t remember any of that if there’s a problem with fulfillment or shipping,” explains Oates.
“That’s why it’s important to set clear expectations with your shipping and return policies, stick to the delivery times you agree on in them, and ship in a timely manner.”
Oates also recommends packing items in the correct size packaging to prevent damage to products being shipped, without incurring additional shipping charges.
Additionally, it is more important than ever to use sustainable packaging options, such as biodegradable and compostable bags, as consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious about the brands they shop with.
According to a recent survey of small businesses by Sendle, Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral door-to-door shipping service, 86% of respondents said carbon neutral shipping is important to them.
“The shipping and logistics industry as a whole accounts for 17 percent of global carbon emissions each year. By committing to sustainable business practices and carbon neutral shipping, companies have the opportunity to position themselves as the responsible choice for customers who have many choices when spending their money. Fortunately for SMEs, most of the hard work is already done, they just need to shop smart and do their research when selecting partners,” says Oates.
Learn more: 3-Step Guide to Small Business Success, Part 3.