Five mistakes most high growth eCommerce brands make

Starting and growing a business is no easy feat. The ATO realistically expects that many new businesses won’t turn a profit until their second or third year, and when you start to experience some strong growth, it can be really easy to make some ill-advised decisions. 

If you started your own business, chances are you have (or will) invested months or years working hard to make the dream a reality. It’s not something you suddenly just know how to do, it’s more a ‘learn how you go’ type of thing, full of ups and downs, success and failures, and that’s to be expected. However, what also often happens is eventually, business owners realise that the structures they built and the strategies they used to get to where they are, are not the ones that will help their business continue to succeed. 

Start-ups in particular can be a real grind. Long, long hours spent doing jobs you may not necessarily have ever wanted to do. While a lot of the time, it’s completely necessary to tick the initial boxes, it’s not a routine you want to rely on as an ongoing business model. Preparing yourself for success is just as important as the road you take to get there. If you’re passionate about what you’ve created, a lot of other people might be too. So knowing what to do when money starts flowing in is going to make a huge difference in the longevity of your business.

Here, we dive into 5 common mistakes most high growth eCommerce brands make.

Mistake Number One: Mistaking Revenue for Profit

When you’ve spent years doing everything in your business - from marketing to packing orders - it can be pretty exciting when you start to see some significant growth in your sales. When this growth continues and your revenue is looking pretty healthy, you need to ensure you’re looking at that figure in the broader picture. It’s important and incredibly necessary to account for the time and money you’ve invested prior to this point, as well as the money you’re about to invest back into the business. As your revenue grows, it usually means you’re going to need more resources (whether that be people, a bigger space, equipment, or technology) and you will have greater tax, super, and GST obligations. Once all of this is considered, your actual profit figure is probably a little less exciting. 

If finance isn’t your thing, speaking with a financial adviser would be the number one tip at this point.

Mistake Number Two: Thinking the Resources That Got You Here Will Take You There

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insane. Just because you’ve seen growth in revenue, doesn’t mean you can continue doing the same thing and expect to keep growing through different business stages and a changing market. Both businesses and the environments in which they operate are constantly evolving, and change is crucial, particularly in eCommerce. As your business grows and your needs evolve, you need to be able to identify when it’s time to bring in specialised experts (either through experienced hires or engaging third-parties/agencies), who have done what you want to do and/or been where you want to go. You also need to be ready to increase your marketing budget and activity, as you strive to gain increased market share, to allow you to reach new and wider audiences. 

Always ensure you have processes and growth strategies in place so that if one person leaves, another can easily slot in their place and it can be like nothing changes. 

Mistake Number Three: Enterprise Technology

Having decent enterprise level platforms will be a key driver in the long term success of your business. Investing in platforms that are going to be able to grow with you will save you from running into issues later on. While there may be cheaper alternatives that seem like they’ll do what you need to begin with, you need to consider what purpose that technology will serve as your business grows. For example, a Shopify website is a great enterprise level platform with extensive capabilities that won’t run into issues as your online sales grow. A WordPress website would initially be a cheaper option, however it’s not designed as a purpose built eCommerce platform and would be more likely to run into issues as your business grew.

Always consider scalability and future requirements when selecting technology for your business.

Mistake Number Four: No Risk Mitigation Strategy

While your business may be booming and you think everything is running smoothly, you should always be considering a back up plan. Understanding what makes your business run smoothly will allow you to realise how things could very quickly come undone if certain situations occurred. It’s not necessarily just the structure of your own business either; it’s businesses you partner with, (suppliers, advertisers, etc.), understanding what might happen if a new competitor came into the space and started outselling your number one product, or having a plan if your main supplier went bankrupt overnight. These are examples of things that could very well happen and need to be considered to ensure your business survives. 

Sometimes things go wrong that are out of your control, but knowing how to handle them is what will allow your business to have long term success.

Having strong brand USP’s and excellent customer service will help lead to a loyal customer base. People will continue to support your business if they feel a part of a community.

Mistake Number Five: Customer Support Processes and Technology

When you start a business, you want all of your customers to feel valued. You might even go to extreme lengths to make sure they get their package on time, hand write thank you notes in their parcel, or promise to respond to every single direct message on Instagram. This is all well and good while your customer base is small but as it grows, it might be hard to continue this special level of service you’ve been providing. While making your customers feel valued is super important, keeping things consistent is probably more important. If one of your initial customers loved the level of service and support they received on their first couple of orders, it might be a bit of a deal breaker when the service they receive in their third of fourth purchase is not what they’d become accustomed to. 

You need to have processes and technologies in place that will allow you to deliver a level of customer support and service that you’re happy with, and able to continue with as you grow. There are hundreds and thousands of apps and plug-ins that can be installed on your website to provide that extra level of value that can be kept consistent as your customer base grows. From simple apps that allow for things such as order tracking or message automation, through to full scale customer support apps like Gorgias that offer a more ‘all-in-one’ customer support solution.

Make sure you are setting customer expectations that can be maintained as you grow, and have the systems in place to consistently deliver the same level of customer service long term.

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