With so many powerful and comprehensive ecommerce platforms available to retailers today, there is a booming online industry. In fact, there are currently more than 25 million online stores, of all sizes, that are built on various ecommerce platforms. But, statistics show that only about 3% of those stores are successfully making a profit from their websites. Why is that? Well, the discrepancy seems to come from the challenges that smaller ecommerce businesses, that are originally successful, face when transitioning into enterprise-level ecommerce. It’s true that it seems that operating an enterprise ecommerce business should be just a larger, more active version of running a regular online store, but there are some serious challenges that retailers face as they attempt to evolve into something bigger. Enterprise-level ecommerce is quite a different endeavor, and it’s not easily accomplished. If your ecommerce business is primed and ready to move up into the enterprise level, it’s important that you prepare for the challenges to come. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trials and tribulations you may encounter and some tips to help along the way.
#1 – Handling Traffic Spikes
Spikes in site traffic can significantly slow or even bring down a website, overwhelming the server and causing major problems for your retail business. Particularly detrimental during the holiday season. As your company grows so does the need for increasing advertising and social media spend. Increased advertising spend will inherently drive an increase in order volume to the point that your ecommerce platform may not be able to keep up with the demand. With the increased use of machine learning, the number of companies using automated bid strategies for ad spend (ie: Google Adwords) increases every day. How is one to keep up with technology trends?
Pro tip: Select an enterprise level ecommerce platform such as Magento Enterprise or Shopify Plus. Combine the enterprise ecommerce platform with Enterprise level analytics to really understand what is causing the increase in traffic. Analyze trends by device or by hour of day or day of week to really see the common trends in site traffic. Take it one step further and analyze where the site traffic is coming from by doing a heat map.
#2 – Scalability
It’s common for online businesses to find that scaling their ecommerce platform to handle increased product offerings is difficult. Making the transition to enterprise-level ecommerce typically includes increasing the number of SKUs offered – sometimes exponentially. With copious numbers of products comes even more product variations and variable costs, which have to be managed and updated regularly. This challenge, the inability of their platform to keep up with dramatically increased products and sales, is frequently the reason that businesses with the potential to become enterprise-level never really do so.
Pro tip: Most businesses start small, hoping that they reach enterprise-level at some point in the future. What they fail to do is plan for it when they select the platforms and systems they use. Looking for ecommerce platforms that are easily scalable including Magento, BigCommerce, or Shopify, will help alleviate future growing pains, as will choosing Enterprise level analytics solutions, like Glew Enterprise, that can adapt seamlessly as your business expands.
#3 – Mobile Integration
Another challenge that enterprise-level ecommerce businesses face is the cross-platform integration that caters to the new generation of users. That means that there are huge numbers of consumers who are looking for buying options that integrate with all of their various devices including their iPhone or tablet. Mobile optimization and application customization are key to the success of enterprise-level businesses, and some are slow to adapt.
Pro tip: The best thing you can do for your customers is understand who they are, how they find your products, and what their shopping behavior looks like. This will allow you to adapt with the trends as they do. Customizable reporting analytics will help you gain valuable insight into your customers, their preferences, and behavior, so that you can make the best sales and marketing decisions for your business.
#4 – Uniform Branding
Along the same lines as mobile integration, today’s customers expect to see uniformed branding across all of an enterprise-level ecommerce business’ sales channels. For example, it’s not unusual for a customer to walk into a brick and mortar store for a particular product, consult the store’s website on their mobile phone to read customer reviews and get additional product information, and then go home and place an order online from their iPhone, tablet or laptop computer. You can see from the above scenario that to be successful, all businesses need to have uniformed branding to appeal to tech-savvy shoppers. Consistency creates trust and loyalty with customers, making the customer experience positive and ensuring that they return to your business in the future.
Pro tip: Monitoring the right metrics is key to understanding the performance of your branding and marketing efforts. With Glew Enterprise, you are easily able to customize dashboards and reports to analyze growth trends for both an ecommerce or brick and mortar environment. Which allows for customized tracking of everything from your email / social campaigns to Lifetime Value (LTV), New vs Repeat Customers, and even inventory. Customized reporting for different departments is incredibly valuable for enterprise level companies who have both a store front and an online presence.
#5 – Increasing Competition
The amount of competition that is out there for ecommerce businesses is enormous – and it’s continuing to grow as more and more stores introduce an online cart to keep up with the increase of consumers purchasing online. This presents a real challenge to companies who are in the process of advancing toward large-scale enterprises. Staying competitive means that online retailers have to employ some truly radical marketing strategies to maintain their share of the market.
Pro tip: This is a challenge that is best overcome with powerful analytics and reporting. Using product-specific reporting, you are able to drill down into how your products are performing, which is essential in the current competitive market. Glew Enterprise can help you understand product segments, such as most profitable products or best bundles, to learn more about what’s helping or hurting your store’s performance, allowing you to make the necessary changes to stay competitive.
The above is only a few of the common challenges that growing ecommerce businesses face as they reach the enterprise level. Of course, every business is unique and may not struggle with the same issues. However, whatever the challenges are, they can be overcome with comprehensive planning and strong operational and marketing strategies in place.