As hard as it is to believe, there are only days left in 2018. And while you're probably still busy with holiday sales, don’t forget to take some time to sit down and map out your 2019 ecommerce strategy. Whether 2018 was your first year in business or you’re proud to be an established ecommerce success, an annual plan is always beneficial. For one, it's proven that writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them - anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely, in fact. Having a concrete strategy, even if it's subject to change (because let's be real, what isn't?), also helps you stay organized and focused - when you have a plan you can refer back to, it's easier to say no to distractions that aren't necessarily a good fit. Need some guidance when it comes to planning - and executing - your 2019 strategy? We'll walk you through the basic steps.
Evaluate your 2018 performance
You can’t plan out the next leg of your journey without knowing where your business currently stands. Start planning for 2019 by reviewing your most important metrics from 2018. Don’t rush this review - really take some time to dig into your performance by month, by season, from different marketing channels, within different customer demographics and for different product groups. Ecommerce follows its own set of rules (and they’re constantly changing). Fully understanding your current performance is the only way to set realistic 2019 goals. Analyzing ecommerce metrics is more than just looking at sales and revenue, though. While your review should include financial reports, there are several other metrics to consider, including:
- Customer acquisition cost: How much it costs you to find and secure a new customer
- Customer lifetime value: How much your average customer is worth to your business
- Average order value: The average amount a customer spends on a single order through your site
For more on analyzing your 2018 ecommerce data, check out our guide to annual reporting using ecommerce metrics.
PRO TIP: Analyzing your past year's performance is much easier with a robust analytics tool - one that combines all your data sources in one place, ETLs your data for cross-channel reporting, and seamlessly delivers metrics, visualizations, automated reports and more to help you get the insights you need. If that's not something in your toolkit today, check out a free trial of Glew.
What to include in your 2019 ecommerce strategy
Now that you have a firm grasp on your 2018 performance, it’s time to piece together a winning 2019 strategy. How to start this process? Determine your overall goal. This will be different for every business (maybe it’s a certain number of sales, an increase of a certain number of new customers, or a dollar amount in growth) but all goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and have a time-frame attached - otherwise known as SMART goals. Once you have a clear goal in mind, start stacking your 2018 metrics against it to see what you need to adjust. Here are a few examples:
Is your 2018 target audience the same group that’s going to help you reach your 2019 goal? If you know you need to switch gears, do it now - and figure out how you're going to reach that new audience, whether it's with new products, new marketing campaigns, new events, or something totally different. If you’re not sure, it may be time to implement some A/B testing.
What to look at:
- Performance for different customer groups and segments, including number of customers, number of orders, revenue, gross profit, average order value and lifetime value
- Consider customer segments like wholesale buyers versus individual consumers, different demographic groups, value shoppers versus big spenders, VIPs versus first-time buyers, etc.
As an ecommerce business, your marketing plan should include keeping up with changing trends and testing new things, while still making the most of the channels that deliver for you. Use your 2018 data to determine if it’s time to cut out a channel entirely or allocate your marketing dollars differently, based on what channels are performing well with your target demographics.
What to look at:
- Performance for different marketing channels, including revenue, ad spend, net profit, ROAS and profit margin
- Also look at channel-specific metrics like CPCs, email campaign open and click rates and conversion rates
In the competitive ecommerce landscape, your product offering needs to constantly evolve - whether that means adding new products or refining your standbys. Competitors can (and do) pop up overnight, so now’s the best time to decide whether you need to add more products to stay ahead, or drop low-performing products to free up resources for new innovation.
What to look at:
- Performance for different products, including revenue, number of orders, number refunded, total amount (in dollars) refunded, product cost, gross profit and margins.
- You can also look at product groups and segments to see things like high-volume products, high-margin products, most- and least-profitable products, most refunded products and most bundled products to inform your product strategy.
Ideally, your ecommerce business is experiencing an upward trend right now with holiday sales. But there are other seasonal trends to be aware of throughout the year. Did any catch you off-guard in 2018? Could you have planned better for them - whether with additional marketing efforts, more accurate inventory forecasting or something else entirely? Plan accordingly for 2019. So far, we’ve only brought your business data to the table. But don’t forget to spend some time anticipating changes in the ecommerce market for 2019. Research your competition and read about predicted upcoming trends. While you can’t see the future, readying yourself for as many scenarios as possible can help you reach your 2019 goals.
What to look at:
- Your overall store performance at different times of year, months, days of the week and even times of day (this is easy using Glew's date picker functionality). Compare with previous years to make sure what you're seeing isn't an anomaly.
- See how you do during key ecommerce seasons like back to school and the holidays. If you sell a seasonal product (like bathing suits or cold-weather gear) look especially closely at the times of year that make sense to you.
Making your strategy a reality
Everyone's seen it before: a business takes all the right steps to prepare for the coming year, but then reality hits. Before they know it, a full year has gone by, and they've been so in the weeds of the day-to-day that they haven't even thought about the goals they made last winter. Follow these steps to avoid abandoning your 2019 strategy:
1. Break down your big goal into steps
Take your goal and break it down into several mini-goals, with hard deadlines. This will prevent that end-of-year shock and keep your overall goal front and center.
2. Evaluate on a regular basis
Based on your mini-goals, decide how often you should evaluate. Whether it’s quarterly or monthly, keep everyone on your team informed of the company’s progress.
3. Tackle hurdles and setbacks while celebrating wins
You can’t win them all. When you experience a setback, learn from it, and carry on. At the same time, allow yourself to celebrate advancements accordingly. If developing a 2019 ecommerce strategy wasn’t on your radar before, it should be clear now that this is an important step for the growth and development of any store. Ready to take the first step and start analyzing your 2018 data? Head over to Glew to start your free trial and get help with easy data integrations, seamless metric calculations and visualizations, scheduled and automated reports and more.