How to grow an ecommerce business

How to grow an ecommerce business

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Ecommerce is one of the most lucrative business ventures, and it's only going to grow in popularity in the coming years. In 2021 alone, retail ecommerce sales totaled approximately 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide, and it’s forecasted to grow by 50% over the next four years. This means that even though the market is fiercely competitive, there's plenty of room for more successful businesses to join the party.

Whether you're thinking of starting an ecommerce business or if you're in the early stages of your business, there are many methods, including affiliate, influencer, and social media marketing, which can be used for developing and growing your business. Having a strong foundation is crucial in this industry, so for the first part of this article we’ll dive into the fundamentals of starting and growing an ecommerce business. Then, after having covered all the bases, we will look at what the future holds for ecommerce, and how you can scale your business in the years to come.

What is ecommerce?

Ecommerce comprises all of the buying and selling of goods and services that happen over the internet. Since almost anything can be sold and purchased online, ecommerce has completely changed the way most businesses operate. During the global pandemic, it has also helped millions of businesses world wide by allowing them to continue their operations, which resulted in an unprecedented adoption of ecommerce in the day-to-day of both businesses and consumers. Due to the ubiquitous nature of the internet, ecommerce will continue to evolve and grow in the coming years, reaching an estimated global sales total of 7.9 trillion U.S. dollars by 2025.

The internet is empowering anyone to start their own ecommerce business, or evolve their existing business venture. Businesses can directly sell to consumers through ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, which has seen a 57% growth in 2021 alone, as thousands of new users joined their platform. The Business to business market segment also embraced ecommerce, as it allows companies to offer their services and wholesale products to other companies around the world. But it doesn’t stop there. In recent years, consumers have taken an active participation in the ecommerce industry. With consumer to consumer platforms such as Vinted and Etsy, as well as consumer to business marketplaces such as Fiverr, individuals can now sell their products and services online. It is without a doubt that ecommerce is changing business as we know it, and shaping its future.

Most buyers love ecommerce because they can make purchases anytime and from anywhere, making it a convenient option. This convenience is not only extended to consumers, however. The beauty of running an ecommerce business is that, in many cases, it can be done remotely, from anywhere in the world. And with convenience being a key incentive for progress and innovation, the process of operating your ecommerce business is being optimised by the day. It’s one of the reasons we started Juni actually. 

So, in order to get a piece of the ever-growing ecommerce pie, you will have to get started.

How, you ask?

Let us break it down.

Getting started with ecommerce

If you're just getting started with ecommerce, you'll have many factors to consider. You'll first need a good or service to sell. You can create a product or source products through wholesalers.

Before choosing a product, you'll need to do research. You want to make sure there's a thriving market for the product, but not so competitive that you can't be successful. A great way to do this is by identifying your potential customers and asking them about their needs and desires when it comes to a particular product. Take Korean Skincare, for example. The skin care industry is big and profitable, with several big companies dominating the market. Thanks to social media, it has become widely known amongst European and North American consumers that Korea is producing some of the best skin care products in the world. The European and North American big skin care companies, however, are not offering these products, meaning that there is a gap in the market for these niche products. By building an ecommerce business which is specialised in Korean skincare products, you can dominate and find success in a very specific niche.

After sourcing your product, you'll need to figure out how you're going to sell it. Will you go through a third-party platform like Amazon or Etsy or do you want to develop your own website? You'll get a wider reach with a large platform, but you'll get to keep all of your profits if you sell from your own site.

You'll need to build your business on a solid foundation. Your business can crash and burn if you scale before you're ready. Once you've got your business up and running, it's time to come up with an ecommerce growth strategy. You'll spend the majority of time on this step, as you'll always want to keep scaling your ecommerce business.

Scaling and growing your ecommerce business

Scaling and growing your ecommerce business allows it to thrive. Businesses that don't scale and grow will stagnate and may eventually go under. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, we'll look at some of the best ecommerce growth strategies and figure out how you can apply them to your business.

What is ecommerce business growth?

When you grow your ecommerce business, you are adding resources at the same rate as revenue is growing. You may be hiring more employees, increasing your stock and offering more products. Another way to scale is by improving and optimizing your business processes, which can be done via smart tools for fulfillment, customer relationship management, or finance management, to name a few. When done correctly, adding these elements to your business causes revenue growth.

What is scaling in ecommerce?

Scaling, on the other hand, is an accelerated form of growth that doesn't require the added resources needed to generate revenue. The business starts to get an exponentially greater amount of revenue with no or only a few additional resources.  

While growth is vital to a business, new or relatively new ecommerce businesses are often more concerned with scaling their business. The boost in revenue can help their company to get off the ground and they can then focus on growth.

Tips for scaling and growing your ecommerce business

While there is no magic formula that will guarantee you to successfully scale your ecommerce business, there are a number of tips which have been working for a lot of business owners out there. Some trends come and go, but the fundamentals remain the same:

Generate Brand awareness

When you're ready to scale, you can't just think about the products you're selling. You also have to think about your brand as a whole. You want people to know your brand and associate you with your industry.

You can build brand awareness in several ways, such as social media campaigns, generating press about what you sell, or strategic collaborations with other brands that are familiar to your target audience . Whichever way you decide to go for, it is important that you first develop a solid logo, a website and social media accounts.

At Juni we generate brand awareness by communicating about our product in a way which is unique and recognisable. We do this via our website, social media, and Google ads, as well as tailor-made content which delivers value to our community and anyone who might be interested in ecommerce. The very blog you are reading is one of these pieces of content, as sharing our knowledge and experience with people like you is an important part of the Juni brand.

Optimise your website

Customers today expect a lot from ecommerce websites. You need a robust website that can handle a lot of traffic without slowing down. It should be easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. 

Since the majority of web traffic is now on mobile, it's vital that your site is optimised for mobile. You want customers to easily be able to find what they want, no matter what device they're using.

To make sure that your website ticks all the boxes, you can look into UI and UX design, or hire specialists to help you optimise your company’s online experience.

Finally, you want to make sure your website follows SEO best practises. SEO helps your business show up on Google, thus leading more people to your website.

Unleash the full power of Marketing

You can't scale your ecommerce business without a fierce marketing strategy. You can create a plan of attack on all fronts - social media, email, ads, as well as influencer and affiliate marketing. You'll also want to put most of your focus on one or two areas to begin with. Once you have mastered those, move onto the next. 

Choose to market based on where your target customers spend most of their time online. For example, if you sell sports supplements and you know that the majority of your target customers are frequent Instagram users, then creating an Instagram marketing strategy is the way to go. Start by creating content around things that would give your target audience value, like home-workout routines or smoothie recipes which they can make with your product. Pair this with an Instagram fitness influencer marketing strategy to create brand awareness and drive people to your channels. If people like the way you present your product and the content you produce then they will reward you with engagement, and in some cases, product purchases.

If you’re selling a more practical, generic product such as phone cases, then maybe SEO and inbound marketing is your winning marketing combo. Make sure to optimise your website content based on relevant keywords, so that when people search for ‘Iphone 12 case’ your website will show up as one of the search results. Pair this with long-form blog content which educates people about how to repair their broken phone screens which will drive further traffic to your website. If people like this type of content you can incentivise them to sign up for your email newsletter, which you can then use to market to them in the future.

It's also important to develop a sales funnel, especially if you're selling higher-cost products. Your sales funnel will be made up of a series of steps that consist of various marketing assets, for example, social media campaigns, landing pages and email. You want to market to all levels of your sales funnel so that you're continually driving customers toward a purchase. There are plenty of tools out there that will help you streamline this process and put together a winning funnel. These include Wishpond, Clickfunnels, and Thrive Suite, to name a few.

Social Media - Marketing’s secret weapon

While most ecommerce brands have social media accounts, not all of them use them to their advantage. Social media is a great way to connect with current and new customers. It enables you to engage with your community, build relationships, and create a brand universe around your product or service. Specific features and engagement mechanisms such as Instagram stories, Polls, and Reels can help you put your brand out there in different ways. You can grow your reach, especially if you can get content to go viral. Paid ads can also be effective in reaching a larger target audience, and social media influencer marketing can generate social proof for your brand.

Use social media to interact with customers. You can also run contests and promotions to grow your community, develop brand affinity, and extend your reach. Create content that your target customers will find helpful. You'll be surprised how many people will flock to your ecommerce business because you create content which adds value to their life, whether it’s through entertainment, education, or inspiration. A lot of ecommerce businesses use their social media channels for customer service communications, as it is quick and easy for users to reach out to a brand on their preferred social media platforms. Especially when you are first starting out, leveraging social media is a great way to keep in touch with your customers without having to pay for expensive CRM tools or customer support plugins.

Find out why people love your brand (or don’t)

Your satisfied (and even dissatisfied) customers are a valuable resource. While you can often rely on them for word-of-mouth advertising, you can also get useful feedback. By engaging your customers and requesting feedback, you can discover the best elements and products of your brand. You can also find areas for improvement. At Juni, this is an essential part of our process. We invest a lot of time and energy into creating close relationships with our customers. This is a way for us to help them grow, but also a way for them to help us create the best products and services for them. It’s how we built the beta version of Juni, and what allowed us to create a new, tailor-made financial platform which is now officially out of beta and ready for the market.

You can ask for reviews immediately after a purchase or send an email a few days after. If you give customers a discount on a future purchase or a chance to win a prize, they'll be more likely to comply. Positive reviews can help your revenue to skyrocket. At Juni, we have an entire customer success team dedicated to generating and processing customer feedback. Made up of dedicated account managers and a help desk that is available 24/7, the team has been crucial to the success we’ve been fortunate to have achieved so far.

Email marketing The forgotten art of email marketing

Even though there are plenty of new platforms and marketing trends, Email is still one of the most valuable ways to reach your customers. You can segment them based on their gender, interests, and purchase history, allowing you to send them content and offers which are most relevant to them. That’s why it’s important to collect email addresses from your site, social media and with purchases. You may even offer incentives to get customers to sign up, such as a percent off a purchase.

Be sure to send out newsletters regularly. Use your email newsletter to offer relevant information that your customers will find useful, as this can trigger interest, spark conversations, and generate traffic to your website or blog. You can also activate them to try out a new feature you have just launched on your website or platform, like we just did with our new User Roles and Permissions feature here at Juni. You can also advertise specials and new product launches. Targeted emails can be particularly powerful for customers who've searched your site or added products to their carts.

Let others market your product for you

An affiliate program can offer you some powerful marketing capabilities. Your affiliate marketers will do the hard work - convincing people to buy your product - and you'll only have to pay when they make a sale.

Influencers are also effective marketers. They already have a trusting follower base who are willing to listen to their suggestions. Just be sure to connect with influencers whose followers overlap with your target customers. By combining the two you can scale your marketing efforts without having to do it all yourself. The great thing is that you can negotiate a commission based payment model with both affiliate and influencer marketers, meaning that you only pay when they deliver results. This way you will not need any significant cash investment upfront, but simply pay them with a part of the revenue they generate for you.

Customer service is king

When it comes to customer service, people nowadays expect quick response times, high quality support, clear answers, and efficient and quick solutions. You'll need to train your customer service team to go above and beyond when it comes to helping your customers. Having a dedicated customer service team who can offer efficient, high quality support in the tone of voice of your brand can go a long way in building brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

A/B testing Don’t assume; let data lead the way

A/B testing is essential to almost everything you do, including paid digital marketing campaigns and website redesigns. Use A/B testing to figure out what is working and what isn't. It’s easy to get swept up in subjective feedback and opinion on what looks or works the best, but the only way to know for sure is by testing and letting the data decide. This way you can make the appropriate adjustments and continue to refine your methods. At Juni, we are constantly AB testing for the content we produce and the ad campaigns we run because it’s crucial for us to understand what our customers like so that we can provide the best possible brand experience, and tailor-made content which delivers the most value to them.

Current trends in ecommerce

The ecommerce climate is constantly shifting due to technological innovation and changes in consumer behavior, so it's vital that you stay up-to-date on current trends. By making shifts early and often, you'll be able to stay ahead of the pack and scale your business. The ecommerce boom of the last two years, for example, led to consumers having high expectations when it comes to customer service as well as convenience factors such as same-day delivery. The same goes for technological innovations which hit the market, and the adoption of this tech by consumers. If you can seamlessly integrate and leverage these for your business’ ecommerce shopping experience, you will have a first mover advantage. That, without a doubt, is a good thing.

Voice search and AR

As an increasing number of people have smart speakers and hubs in their homes, voice search is on the rise. This is thanks to big players such as Amazon and Google investing huge amounts of resources into building the infrastructure for their Alexa and Google Home platforms, making user adoption possible at scale. By 2022, voice search has become a frequently used feature of the consumer journey. Your ecommerce brand needs to be optimised for voice search so that people can find you through this channel as well.

Augmented reality (AR) technology allows customers to see their product in the real world. If you sell something like furniture, clothes, accessories, and jewelry, then AR can be a powerful selling tool. It allows you to influence the purchase decision of your customers by providing an innovative, tailor-made online shopping experience.

More ways to order and pay

Thanks to companies like Netflix and Spotify, subscription business models are gaining more and more traction. According to Digitalist Magazine, 53% of all software revenue will be generated by subscription models. The model isn’t only great for software and services, however. If your product is one that customers purchase regularly, such as dishwashing detergent or razors, you may want to consider the subscription model.

Your ecommerce store likely accepts debit and credit card purchases, but you'll also want to consider other payment methods, such as services that offer payment plans. Another thing to consider is the rise of alternative forms of payment and currencies such as crypto. Early adoption of these payment methods will set you apart and open your business to a steadily growing community of crypto enthusiasts.

You'll also want to consider other avenues for selling your products to make the buying process as easy as possible for your customers. For example, if you market products on social media, you can allow customers to purchase directly from the ad instead of going to your site. The same thing goes for the metaverse, which the big social media platforms such as Meta (formerly Facebook) are actively working on. Investing some time and resources into establishing your business within the metaverse could lead to significant first mover advantages in the near future, when consumer adoption scales.

AI for marketing

AI is making it easier for ecommerce businesses to personalise marketing for their customers. Through retargeting campaigns, you can stay in touch with customers who have shown interest in a product via your website or social media channels, and show them other products they may like based on previous purchases and searches. This is an extremely powerful tool as advertising to people to have already shown interest in your brand and product are far more likely to convert. Facebook and Google’s AI algorithm for retargeting are the two most popular, allowing marketers to reconnect with 98% of customers who have left their website without making a purchase. This second (or third) chance can boost conversion rates by up to 150%. Worth a try, don’t you think?

Challenges in ecommerce

One of the biggest challenges ecommerce businesses face is competition from major multinational industry like Amazon. Their pockets are deep, meaning they can be the first movers when it comes to technological innovation, allowing them to keep a constant competitive edge. These businesses will only continue to grow. That being said, businesses of this size tend to go for quantity over quality, leaving you the opportunity to pick your niche and excel at it via some of the tips and tricks outlined above. So don’t get discouraged, because there is plenty of opportunity in the world of ecommerce to go around. 

Continued risks to safety and security are a challenge. Ecommerce businesses have to do a lot to make sure their customers' private information is secure, including the adherence to the ever-evolving GDPR landscape, privacy, data protection, and cookies challenges. As technology improves, this challenge will become both easier and more difficult. The upcoming phase-out of third party cookies from Google is a good example, as it will change the game for ecommerce entrepreneurs, forcing them to adapt their strategy.

Another challenge is generating conversions while constantly improving customer retention. With so many options available online, customers have their pick of ecommerce stores for just about any product. You have to set yourself apart so that they want to buy your product instead of the competition's. A few ways to combat the threat of customer volatility is by providing world-class service, tailor-made features, or establish a community aspect to your brand which will build strong and long lasting relationships with your customers. At Juni, we do this by creating an environment which fosters two-way communication with our customers, making them a vital part of the development process for the services and tools we provide. This makes them feel like the valued stakeholders they are, and keeps them coming back.

Customer retention is also vital. Again, because there are so many options, you'll need to do things like start an email list and stay current on social media so that customers remember you when it's time to make their next purchase. That being said, it’s important to find the right balance between being present and not spamming your customers with too much content. Having a conversation with your customers and asking them a few questions regarding this will help find this balance.

The future of ecommerce

The pandemic caused ecommerce sales to skyrocket, and it’s forecasted to grow by another 50% by 2025 to reach 7.9 trillion U.S. dollars. Even though many brick-and-mortar stores have reopened, online sales have not decreased. Many consumers have embraced the convenience and options offered by ecommerce.

It's easier than ever to start an ecommerce business; you can source products with the click of a button, build a Shopify store for a few bucks a month, and grow an online presence for your brand via the many social media platforms out there. If you want to try out a new marketing trend or ecommerce conversion funnel, then the internet has countless tutorials and resources at your fingertips. The future of ecommerce will see more opportunity than ever for brands, with new platforms such as TikTok gaining significant traction and providing plenty of untapped potential for brands to use it to their advantage. That said, all that opportunity will come with increased competition. Information about new consumer trends, social media apps, and marketing tools available to anyone, so it is up to brands to adapt them in a unique way which resonates with their customers and sets them apart from the competition. Like most things, the success of ecommerce lies in the execution of it, and the most important step on this journey towards success is getting started.

Naturally, the opportunities and potential profitability of the ecommerce sector will see a significant influx in resources being poured into marketing and branding. You gotta spend money to make money, right? As the sector grows, so will the level of quality that consumers are expecting when it comes to branding, marketing communications, and advertising. The name of the game will be narrowing down brand messaging in order to resonate with more specific target audiences, as well as optimizing conversion rates and ROAS as much as possible. In other words, spend time on getting to know your customer as best as you possibly can, and invest in the right digital tools and expertise to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to performance marketing.

Next to growing their customer base, ecommerce businesses will have to work equally as hard on finding ways to maintain them. Whether it’s through long-term lease models for products, subscription services, or loyalty programs which provide unmatched benefits to their customers - brands will have to get (and stay) creative.

Then, of course, there is the increasingly pressing matter of online privacy. As more aspects of consumers lives’ take place online, the more important it is to protect their personal data while still being able to provide them with a personalised shopping experience. As many brands are phasing out third-party cookies, it'll be incumbent upon the brand to collect this data. Brands will walk a fine line between giving customers the personalisation they want without making them uncomfortable. A way to avoid getting caught up in any breach of privacy debacles, regularly check for new laws and regulations on these matters with your local chamber of commerce.

While many ecommerce brands are already embracing the potential of social media for selling, the future will see even more integration between ecommerce and social media. The use of Instagram shopping, for example, has been growing steadily. According to an Instagram for Business survey, 44% of people use Instagram weekly to shop using features like shopping tags and the Shop tag. TikTok is another platform with huge ecommerce potential. By choosing the most relevant platforms for their business and creating the right content, brands will be able to leverage social commerce into major revenue gains.

Final words of wisdom

Arguably the most important step, getting started is also one of the easiest. The big challenge is to grow and scale your business beyond your initial group of first time customers. When doing so, finding and adopting a strategy which is relevant for your business is key. It is also important to be open to do A/B testing and getting feedback from your customer base, as their needs and wants should guide the growth strategy of your ecommerce business. And when the going gets tough, don’t be afraid to ask others for help - us included, as we are always happy to help out fellow ecommerce entrepreneurs like yourself. Especially when it comes to the financial aspect of ecommerce, Juni is your friend. Many of us at Juni have been in your shoes and know the struggle. That’s why, when you're ready to scale your ecommerce business, Juni is here to accompany you on your journey. As your personalised financial platform, we will empower you to optimise your finances, avoid admin hell, and allow you to focus on scaling - the hassle free way.

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How to grow an ecommerce business
Financial platform

Juni is the financial platform built for ecommerce. We give you a unified view of your finances, with cards, mulitcurrency accounts, and banking, accounting and advertising integrations - all in one place. We can even help boost your cash flow with working capital, cashback and more.

Download our free whitepaper and gain important ecommerce and marketing insights, directly from Juni.

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