Growth is generally good; it indicates you have a product worth buying, and that an increasing number of online users are hearing about your online store. Growth is the reason you invest time and money into various forms of marketing, both organic and paid. Chances are you’ve always dreamed of expanding your ecommerce empire—reaching more online users, commanding a healthy market share and adding new products to your catalogue over time.
But growing your ecommerce business the right way comes with a distinct set of challenges. Indiscriminate growth can be profitable in the short term, but typically ends in chaos for merchants unprepared to deliver a quality experience.
Here are three key areas to prioritize when you’re in the process of growing your online retail business.
1. Keeping Your Target Audience in Mind
Bigger does not mean broader in the ecommerce world. It’s important to make marketing and sales decisions with your target audience in mind, even during periods of growth. However, it’s entirely probable you will develop an increasingly detailed portrait of your target audience over time—perhaps necessitating you update your approach to reaching online users matching your ideal buyer persona.
Customer analytics will help you generate data-driven insights about your buyers. In turn, you can use this information to micro-target niche markets. It may seem counterintuitive to target increasingly specific audiences as you grow, but this strategy will help you connect with those more likely to engage with your brand.
This way, you can avoid casting a wide, but expensive, net. Rather, your goal remains to target people with characteristics in common with your proven customer base.
2. Scaling Up Without Shutting Down
Growth without the infrastructure to handle increased site traffic and conversions is a slippery slope. In other words, your enterprise ecommerce software must be able to keep up with rising demand—and offer as close to 100 percent uptime as possible for the best day-to-day user experience.
In 2016, Amazon experienced a 20-minute outage during which customers received an error message reading, “We’re sorry! An error occurred when we tried to process your request.” Internet Retailer estimates this short outage cost the company approximately $3.75 million.
Of course, the amount of revenue you miss out on during downtime depends on your revenue. But the point remains the same for any ecommerce company: Downtime damages your bottom line. Beyond that, it causes customer frustration, possibly resulting in a loss of trust.
If customers associate your website with slow load times, glitches or error messages, they’re more likely to seek out better service from a competitor. So, for the sake of your profit margins and the loyalty of your customer base, it’s important to scale up without shutting down.
3. Personalizing the Shopping Experience
Just like bigger does not mean broader, it also does not mean more generic. The last thing today’s online shoppers want to feel is like they’re simply a number in a sea of visitors. Work on providing personalized shopping experiences as you grow.
The site search tool is a perfect example of an opportunity for personalization. People enter search queries hoping to find the products or content they’re seeking on your site. Harnessing artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, your site can go above and beyond to deliver results truly in line with what specific customers are seeking.
As Mar Tech Advisor writes, “As you collect more data on [visitors’] context and previous behavior, your website should deliver relevant, personalized results, as well as recommendations for their next steps.”
Growing your ecommerce business the right way requires paying special attention to infrastructure, audience and user experience.