Getting Started Online

Complete Guide to Running an Efficient eCommerce Store

Want to run an efficient eCommerce store? We break down the key steps - from organizing workflow and fulfillment to ...

Want to run an efficient eCommerce store? We break down the key steps - from organizing workflow and fulfillment to writing policies and linking sales channels. Tips to track data, schedule promotions, focus on inbound marketing, consolidate metrics, and more. With the right systems in place from the start, your online shop can operate smoothly and see sustainable success.

So you're ready to set up shop and start that eCommerce store?

Or maybe you already have a successful eCommerce, but it's not running as efficiently as you'd like. Well good news, we built this guide for you! We'll cover the basics you need to know about running an efficient eCommerce store the right way from the get go.

First thing to keep in mind when you're starting out is it might not be as easy as you think. Getting setup is by far the most important part of making it all work but it doesn't end there. If people place orders and you can't fulfill them you'll fall behind and might even pick up bad reviews for even the most honest and simple mistakes.

So you'll find when you're truly busy, having a good flow will be crucial to keeping up and staying ahead. We're going to touch on topics like setting up an inventory and shipping room as well as designing a conversion optimized shop.

Let's dive right in!

Create an organized workflow (that works for you) for new orders

As your eCommerce store grows and time goes on, it will become increasingly important to have a well-organized workflow for processing new orders. A good and efficient process will help you stay on top of your inventory and also help to make sure that your customers are satisfied with their purchase.

There are a few key steps that should be included in your workflow:

  1. When a new order comes in, add the customer's information to your client management system.
  2. Pull the items for the order from your inventory and pack them for shipping.
  3. Create a shipping label and send the order out as soon as possible.
  4. Update your client management system with the tracking information.
  5. Send the customer an email to let them know their order has shipped.

By following these steps, you can be sure that each new order is processed efficiently and effectively. You may also want to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for other areas of your business, such as returns and exchanges, to further streamline your workflow.

Trust me when I say, a set of SOP's not only help you, but they help when you hire. If your business works like a well oiled machine there's not much to get in your way.

Prepare your eCommerce fulfillment room

In order to run your ecommerce store efficiently and operating on all cylinders, you must first prepare your ecommerce fulfillment room. It's best to find an area, or room with ample wall or desk space. It should be a decent enough blueprint so that you can get a really good look at your inventory without digging.

This could mean having shelves, totes, or boxes that are well organized and labeled, so that you can easily find the items you need to fulfill orders. Taking the time and investing now will save you from handling all your products more than once and keep them safe from day one.

You should also get yourself a shipping label printer, or dedicate a printer so that you can quickly and easily print labels for your orders. We've found it easy to start with labels on the shelves at stores with office supplies, they are compatible with any printer. Keep in mind it doesn't need to be fancy. Find a spot for this that's safe, it's basically your money printer.

Finally, you should have a schedule for when you will be shipping orders out, so that you can keep track of your inventory and make sure that everything is running smoothly. Setting one or two days a week aside for this will help decrease workload and give a more stable feel to the operation. It doesn't hurt to put your calendar on a whiteboard.

Tip: There's local courier & delivery companies you can call to pick up and drop them off so never have to leave the office. It's common and pays in dividends during seasonal shopping.

Consider and create your policies and terms

Your policies and terms are some of the most important pages on your site. They’re there to build trust with your visitors, let them know what to expect when they buy from you, and help you manage customer expectations. Being up front yet concise will stop most if not all of the big problems like high return rates or cancellations.

When creating your policies, it’s important to keep them clear and short enough to read in a minute or two. No one wants to read a long policy and might even intimidate them enough to not shop at your store, so get to the point.

And always be sure to address these key questions your customers will have:

  • What are your terms and conditions?
  • What is your return policy?
  • What are your privacy policies?
  • Do you have any marketing disclaimers?

Your customers might even come up with even more questions or niche specific problems. So right here and now I tell you, start to catalog these. You can find trends and gaps and fill those in to reduce customer friction, it's exactly what the biggest companies do at scale.

Once you’ve created your policies, take some time to review them periodically. Things change, including the law, so it’s important to keep your policies up-to-date. There's a lot of great tools out there so shop around and find one that suits you.

Link your sales channels though a good tool

If you want to take your eCommerce game to the next level, you need to start thinking about linking your sales channels. And we don't mean on the technical level, really use it to coordinate sales, offers, events or whatever your particular goals deem.

What does that really mean though? It means using a tool to track your inventory, customers, and orders across all of your selling platforms—including your online store, brick-and-mortar location, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and even custom content sites. It sounds complicated, and it kind of is. Having a professional online marketing agency streamlines this but isn't always needed for start-ups.

When your sales channels are linked, it’s easier to keep track of your inventory, manage abandoned carts, and process orders—plus, you can be sure that your customers always see the most accurate information and that your listings are optimized with well-written descriptions and photos.

Think about it, when you have that much data you can actually make INFORMED decisions that will help you move in the direction you want.

Build and optimize your re-marketing and email campaigns

To ensure your eCommerce store is efficient, you should build and optimize your re-marketing and email campaigns. Have a seat and pour a cup of coffee, depending on what you're selling depends on how deep you can go. It's a good idea to build an entire set for each interaction, from thank you's to reminders.

You can use tags to segment your lists so you can send relevant offers to each list. This is especially helpful if you have several categories or product lines. Tags simply give you a way to search through your CRM for people who meet that criteria or need a specific type of information delivered.

You can also create newsletters to keep people updated on your latest products, freebies, and website performance. Newsletters are not dead believe it or not. I actually find myself signing up to marketing newsletters often, and yes I read them all (sorta).

I myself have gotten awesome deals so when your customers care about your brand they might even be waiting for them emails.

Transactional emails that re-sell through referrals

When you’re first starting out, it can be difficult to get the word out there about your eCommerce store. You need to find ways to stand out from the competition and get people talking about your brand. One great plan to execute this is by sending transactional emails that offer premium freebies or discounts in exchange for reviews or backlinks. This will not only help you get more exposure, but it will also help build your brand’s reputation.

One of the new trending ways to get people talking about your eCommerce shop is by cultivating user generated content. This can be in the form of reviews, social media posts, or even blog posts. If you can get people talking about your store in a positive way, it will go a long way in helping build your brand’s reputation. Don't discount this, modern brands have been built up and tore apart by user generated content.

Businesses like digital marketing agencies can help you create great content that drives return content. If you're an outdoors company try to get pictures of your gear in action. If you're a cleaner showcase the great work you do.

Finally, you need to make sure that you are actively managing your brand’s reputation. This means monitoring what is being said about your store online and responding to negative reviews or comments in a timely manner. By doing this, you will show potential customers that you are dedicated to providing a good experience and that you are willing to go the extra mile to ensure their satisfaction.

Focus on your inbound marketing first to get a good start

Inbound marketing strategies on average can return 62% more on your efforts. That's a big number when you're starting out. It involves a lot of research and patience, as well a good mapped out customer journey.

The first step to this efficiency is to make sure your inbound marketing is gap free and incorporates your goals. This means you need to be sure your SEO optimization is top-notch and you have a strong support ticketing system in place.

Inbound marketing may start out on a technical level in the search engines but it transitions to a design and customer journey flow. Even the prettiest sites can create massive friction, and in the worst scenario the customer might have been happy with product but the process was crappy. This actually happens, and many people turn great products away from one bad moment.

You also need to make sure your website navigation is easy and intuitive. It's easy to clutter the top because you want everyone to go to all the pages and see everything. But believe it or not a tidy navigation, and using internal linking (links inside text or on pages) to fill those gaps helps create that navigable flow.

Once you have those basic things in place, you can start to focus on scheduling your activities. This means creating a system that allows you to track your progress and measure your results. One way to do this is to create a referral system or . This will help you keep track of where your customers are coming from and how they interact with your site.

Another incredibly important part of eCommerce efficiency is to make sure you have a strong customer service system in place. This system needs to be able to handle all of the tasks associated with customer service, including returns, exchanges, and refunds. Your employees should also be able to answer any questions or concerns that customers may have.

By following these tips, you can create an efficient eCommerce store that will save you time and money. It's not hard but it can be a headache.

Keep your eCommerce station separate

It goes without saying!

Probably one of the most important things you can do to keep your eCommerce business running smoothly is to keep your eCommerce station separate from the rest of your living or working space. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s one of the best ways to stay organized and on top of your orders. 

When you have a dedicated space for packing and shipping orders, as mentioned above, it’s much easier to stay on schedule with shipping pickups and simplify your packaging process. You can also invest in branded mailers and other packaging materials that will make your business look more professional. Plus, if you have a high volume of orders, having a dedicated space will make it easier to scale your business.

Consolidate your data and track your KPI's

We touched on KPI's above but let's get into them a bit more.

To run an efficient eCommerce store that's going to compete well online, you'll want to be tracking the right data. But with all of the different numbers out there, it can be tough to know where to start and what to track. That's why we've put together this on consolidating your data and tracking your key performance indicators (KPIs).

KPIs are the metrics that will help you understand how your business is performing. By tracking your KPIs, you can make informed decisions about where to place your efforts and resources, as well as how to improve your eCommerce store.

What drives Sales?

What drives Engagements?

There are several different KPIs that are particularly important for eCommerce stores: website traffic, demographic data, referring domain data, average checkout purchase size, and location data. Start with these and work your way into more like email open rates and specific button clicks.

To track these KPIs, you can use a variety of methods, including Google Analytics or Console, spreadsheets, or specialized software programs. The method you choose will depend on your needs and preferences. But remember to focus on the ones that drive dollars and engagements. Engagements make your world go around, really they do.

Once you have your data consolidated and organized, you can start to look for trends and patterns. By understanding which KPIs are most important for your business, you can make sure that you're always moving in the right direction. It's literally like an advisor telling you what would be the best play.

And better yet. the longer you track them the bigger the picture you get. Netting you even more opportunities.

Stay ahead and schedule your promotions well in advance

When you’re scaling and running your eCommerce store, you'll need to be proactive about all your seasonal promotions and sales. To ensure that your store is always running smoothly, it’s a good idea to schedule your promotions well in advance. This will give you time to adapt to any price changes, offer up-sells, and capture leads.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Schedule your promotions at least three months in advance. This will give you plenty of time to make any necessary adjustments and ensure that everything runs smoothly.
  2. Be flexible with your promotions. Things change all the time, so be prepared to adapt to price changes, new products, and other unforeseen circumstances.
  3. Offer up-sells and free gifts with purchase. These can be a great way to increase sales and capture leads. You might even pick some up last minute.
  4. Make sure you capture leads. When someone makes a purchase on your site, be sure to capture their contact information so you can follow up with them later.

By following these tips, you can be sure that your eCommerce store is always running efficiently and effectively.

Conclusion: Efficient eCommerce starts from day one

If you made it through all this I commend you, but like anything else, a proper plan makes a great ally. From setup to marketing your efficiency begins on day one and you'll forever be grateful you took a moment to organize ahead. Setting up a good foundation gives you the absolute best chances for a vertical sales trajectory.

Buckle down, pull out a notebook and draw out the customer journey YOU would feel comfortable with. You can even bounce these ideas off you friends or loyal customers to get a good idea where you falter and where you excel.

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