8 Tips for eCommerce Success in the Year Ahead
by Irina Balyurko, on January 31, 2017
The beginning of a new year is a good time to take a look at how you can set your business up for maximum success in the coming year. Here is some advice for momentum, growth and opportunities for your eCommerce business.
Review 2016 Performance
The importance of reviewing past performance and results can not be overestimated: It gives a lot of insights into achievements, mistakes, what worked and what did not work. It can also highlight trends and patterns in your business that you might not be aware of. Reviewing financial performance is very important, as numbers usually reveal valuable data.
Some other qualitative insights can be gained through answering questions, such as:
- What were the biggest successes for the business?
- What were some learning opportunities?
- What do you wish you had done more of?
- What do you wish you had done less?
- Were there any unexpected wins, possibly a positive "side effect" you did not anticipate to one of your initiatives in 2016?
Reviewing your 2016 business performance by asking questions like these gives you the information you need for success in the year ahead.
Set Goals for the Year Ahead
The combination of your insights from the review of 2016 and your ideas about what you want to accomplish in your business in 2017 should give you a comprehensive list of what you want to achieve by the end of this year. Make sure that goals are specific, measurable and have time constraints. For example, instead of "increasing product reviews in 2017," set "improve percentage of product reviews from 2% to 5% by June 1st" as a goal.
Make a Plan
Create a plan for how you will lead your business towards achieving your goals. If you have one overarching goal (for example, grow sales to $500,000 by December 31st) break it down in multiple projects to capture all the inputs and factors that go into reaching that goal. The key is to map out actions that are required to reach each goal and track your progress consistently. If you are not certain what steps to take to reach your goals, allocate time to research or seek feedback from others.
Set Up a Product Calendar
Do you have seasonal products or products that are built around specific holidays? Are you planning any new product launches for the year ahead? Creating a product calendar will visually show you times to focus on your product inventory and launches, including lead time for marketing and inventory management. It can also help you identify dependencies and potential risks. For example, if the majority of your products sell well only for part of the year, you need to diversify your product portfolio to avoid potential cash flow issues.
Audit Branding and Marketing Assets
Has your brand evolved in the past year? Does your branding and marketing (from packaging, to copy on your Amazon product listings, to how you represent your brand in communication with customers) reflect how your products are unique, and the underlying promise of your brand? Does feedback from your customers reflect how you want your products to be perceived in the market? Reviewing your business through these type of questions is a great way to assess your marketing strategies, positioning and how you stand against your competition.
Review Operational Processes
Often operations are put on the back burner, but it is important to review your company’s operations to identify areas to increase efficiency, reduce risk and possibly automate manual processes. If you have a team and do not have written procedures or training materials, allocate time to create a knowledge base and SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) to give your team a good start for 2017. If you are a solopreneur running an eCommerce business, creating SOPs will make training and delegating for your first employee or a contractor a lot smoother.
Developing peer and mentor relationships is invaluable for any business, whether it’s for troubleshooting, learning, mutual help and support or simple camaraderie with somebody who understands the business you are in. Running an Amazon business can bring additional challenges due to complexities and, at times, uncertainty of navigating the platform’s own ecosystem. Having a trusted network of peers or mentors can help immensely at times when advice, feedback or somebody else’s insight is needed.
With the post-holiday rush winding down, now is a great time to review and plan how your Amazon business will operate in 2017, and what you as a business owner want to accomplish this year. What are some of your goals for the coming year?