18 Tips to Grow Your Ecommerce Business

Tips to Grow Your Ecommerce Business

Just about everyone wants to grow their business. There’s hundreds of growth strategies you could follow, but only a few that will be right for you. So where on earth do you start?

To help narrow it down, I asked fifteen online sellers, suppliers and consultants to tell me their top piece of advice for a growing ecommerce business.

Here’s what they said.

1. Broaden (or Narrow) Your Range

John Lawson

Hire more people! Find more stuff! There’s only two ways you can really grow: either source more stuff – different SKUs and different categories, or move closer into your own product niche. Whatever you sell today, if you are really successful at it somebody is going to try to copy you. Start moving to other platforms that you own the traffic on – your website – and try to move closer to manufacturing your own products, or at least sourcing your products from places other people won’t get to.
John Lawson, CEO, 3rd Power Outlet and ColderICE Media

2. Choose the Right Software…

Elizabeth Hitchins

If you want to step over to become a professional eBay business, one of the first things you need to look at is automation. You need to have the right ecommerce automation system that can grow with you. A lot of people go for an expensive solution too early in their growth, find that they don’t get the return on their investment, and start to sour against such systems. Actually their business wasn’t quite ready for it.
Elizabeth Hitchins, Freelance Consultant, KidsonTalks

3. …Then Outgrow It!

Matthew Ogborne

The biggest enabler is – and always has been – software. It doesn’t matter which software you choose, even Excel, just put a package in place to help expedite the process. Then outgrow whatever you are using, in fact I dare you to!
Matthew Ogborne, Co-founder, UnderstandingE.com

4. Diversify and Build Resilience

Dan Burnham

Diversification holds the key for growth; automation will help scale but diversification will build resilience. A lot of eBay sellers don’t have a website and one could help a seller diversify. Any seller that is trading on eBay is playing in an eBay sandpit and is subject to the whims of eBay. If eBay make changes, you have to live with them, and a subtle change could materially impact your business. By diversifying away you’re protecting yourself from that kind of change.
Dan Burnham, Head of Account Management, eSellerPro

5. Hand Over Responsibilities

Tayyab Akhlaq

Sellers start, and they don’t really know what to expect. They are the customer service department, the fulfillment department, and so on, themselves. Look at what part of the business you can leave alone, then outsource or have someone look after it, so you can focus on building the business. Bit by bit the responsibility is passed over, and everyone realizes that nothing fell down or broke.
Tayyab Akhlaq, Managing Director, Genie and the Geek

6. Optimize Your Website

Robert Gilbreath

Optimize your site. Today’s website testing and optimization tools are extremely cost efficient and easy to use. The testing you do doesn’t have to be complicated and, in fact, I suggest you start off with simple tests that can be launched quickly and provide you actionable results. Failed tests are ok – just fail fast, learn, and move on.
Robert Gilbreath, VP of Marketing, ShipStation.com

7. Put Aside Time for Trying New Things

Mark Hayes

Once you have nailed down your top sales channels, focus 75% of your marketing and sales time and budget there. Those are qualified channels that you know are going to drive traffic and sales. But always, no matter how good your business is doing, spend at least 25% on experimenting with new potential marketing strategies. Every day, put in an hour toward new things you haven’t tried yet – like sponsored Instagram posts, Tumblr, comparison shopping engines, PR stunts, print advertising, the list goes on. You never know where your next big opportunity is, so keep on hunting.
Mark Hayes, Head of Communications, Shopify

8. Use Social Media That Fits Your Demographic

Jane Bell

Get involved in social media without trying to sell. The younger generation are using Tumblr and Instagram as well as Twitter and Facebook – different platforms appeal to different demographics. Use eBay’s social media links – each link back to a listing tells eBay search that somebody is talking about it, and gives that all important back linking to your listing.
Jane Bell, eBay Specialist Consultant, eBay Anorak

9. Concentrate on Your Best Products

Dan Wilson

Know your business, cut the numbers and concentrate on your most profitable lines. One key way to be profitable is to cut the crap out and focus your efforts onto those products that make the most for you. This means you can then expand by identifying and trying new lines. The worst thing you can do is persevere with mediocre stock that isn’t shifting. However efficient you are, you can’t win there.
Dan Wilson, Editor, Tamebay.com

10. Play to Your Strengths

Ian Dade

Don’t be afraid to sub-contract areas of your business that are not your strength. An expert in that field will take a quarter of the time, do a better job and could offer a cost saving against you doing it badly yourself.
Ian Dade, Senior Account Manager, UK Fulfilment

11. Don’t Try to Optimize Forever

John Lawson

Many of us have optimized and optimized our processes, but there’s only so much juice you’re gonna squeeze out of that lemon rind. We never really think about it: we make our money when we buy products. If you increase the buying, and buy better, you’ll make a lot more money. If people keep that in mind, it will change everything.
John Lawson, CEO, 3rd Power Outlet and ColderICE Media

12. Develop Cross-Border Capabilities…

Rory O'Connor

When looking to grow a business, merchants often are reluctant to look beyond domestic markets, however exporting often offers the best opportunities for growth. Investing time and resources in developing shipping, translation and local marketing capabilities will give you access to new markets and growth opportunities. Spend some time researching some of the online tools that can help you automate these processes, its probably the best investment in growth you can make.
Rory O’Connor, CEO and Founder, Scurri

13. …and Identify Your Key International Products

Dan Wilson

Look overseas for growth markets and identify key products that will fly. Too many ecommerce businesses stall when it comes to international selling because they think they must take their whole UK inventory and translate that for foreign markets. Not so. Cherry pick key lines, identify specific countries and optimize the best of your stock. It’s not hard to find growth of 20% if you are strategic in your decision making.
Dan Wilson, Editor, Tamebay.com

14. Go Multichannel

Prabhat Shah

Offer products to as many channels as possible. It is easier said than done, but starting with one new channel is a good start. Apart from eBay and Amazon it is good to explore other opportunities such as having your own webstore and building your brand on it. You can learn what customers want from your sales on eBay and Amazon, and offer better prices or offers from your website.
Prabhat Shah, Founder, DayToDayeBay

15. Only Sell Proven Products

Neil Waterhouse

The absolute most important part of building an eBay business is product selection, and only selling proven products which have a minimum of 90 days sales history is the best way to consistently get high profits. Our criteria is we only sell products which have a proven history of making an absolute minimum profit of 50% after all expenses, and they sell a minimum of 15 times per month.
Neil Waterhouse, Author of Million Dollar eBay Business From Home

16. Don’t Make Assumptions

Antony Chesworth

Aim to improve but never assume. It’s paramount that you scrutinize all areas of your business, even while searching for growth opportunities. Never get distracted looking for the next ‘big thing’ when other areas of your business have room for improvement. A/B split test everything! Test your paid advertisements (banners and text), email marketing, landing pages and call to actions. The results will help you make informed decisions on what to change next and will ultimately lead to a better conversion rate.
Antony Chesworth, CEO & Founder, ekmPowershop

17. Focus on Profit, not Turnover

Ian Dade

It is vital to understand the difference between turnover and profit. Focusing time, effort and money on growing turnover is pointless without also concentrating on reducing costs and increasing efficiencies to increase your profits.
Ian Dade, Senior Account Manager, UK Fulfilment

18. Cultivate Your Own Audience

Shabbir Nooruddin

Focus on growing and solidifying your audience more than your product. Remember, a business is only as strong as its audience. If you sell a product to random passers-by, there will be a point where your revenues will stagnate. But if you cultivate an audience, you will be able to sell them something over and over again – while providing value and delivering something your audience loves and wants. But be warned – if you don’t prioritize value, you’ll lose your audience quicker than your store’s sale notification email!
Shabbir Nooruddin, Bootstrapping eCommerce

In Closing

Our experts have provided a lot of great advice, and I hope it’s given you some food for thought. The rest is up to you now!

Have you enjoyed this article? I’d love to hear your feedback – and stories about growing your own business – in the comments below.

6 comments on “18 Tips to Grow Your Ecommerce Business

  1. These are excellent tips I do hope sellers heed. So many of them are putting all their eggs in one basket and doing everything the hard way. Three things that most really need to may priorities are 1) Using software like SureDone to manage inventory 2) Building a list 3) Increasing conversions through testing. Most find these challenging so they don’t get them done. Find a mentor if need be or just jump in with both feet and figure it out. But do it NOW not later or you will be looking back with regret wishing you had.

  2. In regards to #3, try to outgrow ChannelAdvisor. You can’t because it is an enterprise solution & used by 30% of the IR 500.

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