How to Avoid Growing Pains When Scaling an Ecommerce Store
The opportunity to grow your ecommerce store is exciting—increasing customer demand means you’re doing something right in terms of branding, marketing and selling. Scaling your ecommerce store will give you the opportunity to take your operations to the next level and boost your revenue intake. What seemed like only a goal when you started your […]
The opportunity to grow your ecommerce store is exciting—increasing customer demand means you’re doing something right in terms of branding, marketing and selling. Scaling your ecommerce store will give you the opportunity to take your operations to the next level and boost your revenue intake. What seemed like only a goal when you started your store is now becoming reality, which is something to celebrate.
But it’s important to understand how to avoid growing pains when scaling an ecommerce store, otherwise your dream of expansion can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare. Today’s online shoppers expect a smooth, hassle-free, personalized shopping experience whether you’re a small boutique website serving hundreds or an ecommerce powerhouse serving hundreds of thousands.
As you scale up, you’re still responsible for providing an optimal user experience. This means ensuring your online store avoids hiccups, glitches and diminished customer service as it grows. Here are a few key areas on which to concentrate when you’re expanding your online retail business.
Shoppers must be able to navigate your ecommerce website smoothly, no matter how many landing pages or product pages you add as you grow. Always keep in mind consumers’ goals as they navigate forward and backward through your sales funnel. Regardless of the current size of your product catalogue, it must always be two things: “up-to-date at all times and easy to navigate.” A website with convoluted navigation risks frustrating customers, possibly even causing them to abandon their shopping journey before checkout.
Think of your site navigation in a hierarchical fashion. The fundamental structure should descend from broad to specific; from your home page down through your categories and finally to individual product pages. Think about how people actually shop: They click, go back, click on something else, go forward, go back to the home page, explore a different category and perhaps even start the process all over again. The simpler you can make navigation, the more easily people will find what they’re seeking in a timely manner.
Flexible Customer Service
You can rest assured website visitors will have questions along the way. As you grow, it’s important to consider how well you’re equipped to handle an influx of inquiries through various channels. Doing more sales means helping more customers through their purchasing journeys. Failure to provide flexible, responsive customer service can result in missed sales opportunities and customer annoyance.
As one Forbes contributor notes, more than 70 percent of U.S. consumers now “expect personalization” from online businesses. Here are a few key examples:
- Enabling customers to create their own account to keep a record of past purchases, store their checkout information and make customized recommendations based on shopping habits.
- Sending emails with personalized subject lines, containing personalized recommendations, content and offers.
- Offering customizable versions of products.
- Implementing a loyalty program to reward members for taking certain actions.
- Sending personalized follow-up messages thanking customers for their purchases and giving them an opportunity to provide feedback.
Another cornerstone of flexible customer service is providing a variety of channels through which customers can get in touch with your store. As you grow, it’s more imperative to offer more than just email-based customer service.
Consider the difference: In one scenario, you respond to customer inquiries via email, generally within 24 to 36 hours. This means by the time you respond, potential customers will have already exited your website and moved on with their lives—bringing them back into your sales funnel requires them to jump through more hoops. Now imagine you’re able to address customer inquiries in real time using a live chat system, either staffed by humans or featuring a hybrid of artificial intelligence and human input. The latter tool allows you to answer customers’ most pressing questions and listen to their concerns on the spot, allowing you to influence their purchasing decisions without interruption.
Customers are increasingly turning to social media to connect with brands, both publicly and privately. As you grow, it’s important not to let customer comments and questions slip through the cracks across social media platforms. You never want your customer base to feel that you’ve become “too big to care” about them, so emphasized helpful and timely responses on social media for best results.
As you grow, remember the basics: What is an ecommerce store? At its core, an ecommerce store is a place to facilitate the buying and selling of products via the internet. At the heart of these transactions lies a speedy, seamless checkout process. Baymard Institute calculated the average shopping cart abandonment rate across 40 different studies: 69.89 percent. Knowing this, it becomes apparent how important it is to minimize customer churn toward the end of your sales funnel.
So, what might be causing customers to exit your store before making a purchase? Here are a few possibilities:
- Some customers simply want to browse, adding items to their cart without committing.
- Customers may encounter hidden fees toward the end of checkout, prompting them to abandon their efforts.
- People may want more shipping options, either regarding pricing or delivery timeframe.
- Potential customers become impatient if checkout takes too long or requires them to fill out too many fields.
- Shopping cart abandonment is typically higher for sites requiring people to create an account to proceed; allow new shoppers to check out as guests.
- Finally, consumers may bail out if they can’t use their ideal payment method to make a purchase. The more secure, flexible options you can offer, the more people you’ll satisfy.
Scaling up your ecommerce store does not mean shifting your focus from quality to quantity to keep up with demand. Rather, it means growing in a sustainable way and making sure you can still serve your customers well. Navigation, customer service and checkout are all key areas in which people expect top-notch service. This fact remains true throughout the duration of an ecommerce store’s lifespan, from its first days to its future expansion.