There are over 26 million e-commerce sites as of 2023. Almost 14 million of those are from the United States. Global e-commerce sales equal $5.8 trillion in 2023, and this is only projected to grow by about 8% over the next few years. Whether you’re starting a new e-commerce business or looking to build up your existing one, it takes guts to compete. However, the market is large for a reason. People are increasingly interested in making purchases online. Find out how to make sure your e-commerce business stays resilient during this surge and beyond.
What Is Resilience in E-commerce?
Business resilience refers to an organization’s ability to adapt to anything that comes its way. The resilient business not only adapts but thrives, continuing to turn a profit and keep a positive public perception. The magnitude of success will depend on each business owner’s personal goals, but the overarching themes are the same — to stay afloat, make money, and satisfy consumers.
In e-commerce, you won’t have as much overhead as a brick-and-mortar store. However, to bolster your business and prepare for the future, you have to think critically about each component of your processes. All companies deal with unexpected changes, but there are ways to prepare for everything from inflation to bad press.
Set Yourself Up for E-Commerce Success
The first step to resilience is to start correctly. Laying the foundation for a successful e-commerce business involves:
- Defining your market and offerings: Solidifying what you will sell and to whom, often within a specific niche and catered toward a certain demographic;
- Choosing a business model: Clearly defining how you will sell, including but not limited to subscriptions, digital products, dropshipping, and traditional online retail;
- Setting measurable goals: Having goals beyond broad success that include tangible results that are achievable and tracked, such as the number of sales per quarter;
- Pinpointing your brand image: Creating a tone and visuals that give consumers a cohesive picture of your brand, such as logos and social media captions;
- Creating an online presence: Establishing your e-commerce website, social media profiles, Google business profiles, press releases, and any listings on aggregate sites.
Of course, this is all easier said than done. Even if you’re already established, take a hard look with your team — or yourself if you are a solo entrepreneur — and determine your e-commerce goals. Then and only then can you start to build up resilience.
Focus on Accessibility
The ease of finding products and having them shipped directly to them is what drives consumers to make e-commerce purchases. Cater to this by taking accessibility into consideration. This includes:
- Availability of products that are in demand;
- Accessibility features for consumers with disabilities;
- Omnichannel presence and ease of communication.
Accessibility in e-commerce simply means showing up where consumers need you the most.
Your online store should be user-friendly, visually appealing, and optimized for various devices. Incorporate responsive design elements to ensure a seamless browsing experience across desktops, tablets, and smartphones. When you consider consumers living with disabilities who may want to purchase your products online, intuitive navigation and clear product categorization can enhance user engagement and encourage consumer loyalty for the long haul.
Work With Reliable Partners
Collaboration is paramount in e-commerce. From suppliers to shipping partners, align yourself with reliable entities that share your commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. Establish strong working relationships to ensure consistent product availability and timely deliveries. Optimize your e-commerce supply chain further by:
- Using multiple, reliable fulfillment centers, allowing you to have options to pick from to create the best shipping experience for customers;
- Implementing AI and automation where possible, streamlining demand forecasting and restocking processes;
- Optimizing warehouse management with inventory tracking systems, employee tracking, and automation tools.
Implement inventory tracking systems to monitor stock levels and forecast demand accurately. Automation tools can further expedite order fulfillment processes, reducing the risk of errors and delays. Solid partnerships form the foundation of a smooth customer experience and contribute to your business’s credibility, allowing you to bounce back more quickly in the event of any disruptions.
Use Reviews to Your Advantage
Online reviews, particularly those on platforms like Google, wield immense power in shaping your business’s reputation and success. Positive reviews build trust and credibility, while negative ones offer valuable insights for improvement. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and respond promptly to all feedback, showcasing your dedication to customer satisfaction.
Leverage Google reviews to enhance online visibility and build a positive brand image. A higher quantity of positive reviews can improve your search engine ranking, making it easier for potential customers to find your products or services. However, you can build resilience by harnessing negative reviews and turning them into learning experiences and positive responses. Respond promptly to inquiries and comments on all platforms, including social media, website comments, and reviews on all sites. Even if someone has something negative to say, it’s better to reply and show your company’s willingness to improve. This will bode well for your customer service, showing potential customers your initiative while informing your team of what to do differently next time.
Have Contingency Plans
Adaptability is key to resilience. Develop contingency plans to address unforeseen challenges such as supply chain disruptions, changes in consumer behavior, or shifts in market trends. Establish alternative suppliers and explore flexible shipping options to mitigate potential disruptions. By anticipating and planning for various scenarios, you’ll be better equipped to navigate uncertainties along your e-commerce business journey.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor