A Quick guide to planning for smarter and faster eCommerce growth If you have a great product, your eCommerce business can quickly double or triple in size. But if your eCommerce platform isn’t ready to scale with this kind of fast growth, your customer experience will suffer and your business could stall. Your website could crash, frustrating customers. A cookie-cutter buying experience could leave you vulnerable to competitors. Not complying with regional regulations could get you in trouble. And you shouldn’t assume that your eCommerce platform is ready for anything. A limited platform that isn’t really scalable can lead to technical headaches, higher costs, and missed opportunities. Instead, you need an eCommerce platform that’s up to meeting your changing requirements, now and in the future. Prepare for traffic surges. Traffic surges can be a blessing or a curse. They mean customers are flocking to your online storefront, and that’s good. But they can also be a potential disaster. They can crash your website and knock your business offline just when you’re gaining traction. If you’re planning a big sale or viral marketing campaign, it’s important to plan for traffic surges. How can you do that? First, make sure your designated IT person, if you have one, knows you’re planning something big that could result in a big surge in web traffic. If your eCommerce platform is in the cloud, talk to your vendor about how they handle traffic spikes. Finally, ask about your current service-level agreement (SLA) and make sure your service plan is still a good fit for higher traffic. Engineer your customer experience to encourage repeat business. To sustain growth over time, you need to turn new customers into repeat customers. Increasing customer loyalty by five percent can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent per year.[i] In other words, it’s important to think beyond the first transaction. To do this, you’ll need to carefully analyse your repeat customers and figure out why they’re coming back. Do they all tend to buy the same products? Do they have certain characteristics in common? Or is it something else? Your eCommerce platform should offer business intelligence reporting that lets you understand repeat customers and test new strategies designed to keep customers coming back. Increasing customer loyalty by five percent can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent per year. Capitalise on interest from global buyers. Some of your biggest opportunities may be overseas. As you grow, you may attract international buyers and start shipping internationally. As you grow even more, you may even decide to create a fully localised experience with custom products, local-language content, and local-currency payments. But cross-border eCommerce can be complicated. Your initial shipping partner may not cover some markets. Different regions have different data privacy and tax rules. And crafting a localised experience requires a deep understanding of your market. As you develop your international eCommerce strategy, you’ll need to learn whether or not your eCommerce platform supports localised selling experiences—and how to extend it if it doesn’t. Start thinking multichannel. Globally, marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba represent 40 percent of eCommerce.[ii] In fact, $1.86 trillion USD was spent globally on the top 100 marketplaces in 2018.[iii] Many businesses are flocking to them. Others are adding social channels, physical stores, retail partnerships, and more. Adding new channels can be rocket fuel for growth. But treating new channels as separate silos—each with its own platform—can make them harder to manage. You’ll have to synchronise inventory between multiple systems. Your user experience may be disjointed or inconsistent. And managing multiple stand-alone eCommerce sites can be expensive. Ideally, you should use one eCommerce platform for all your channels. Multiple front ends should work with a single backend. Before you add channels, find out if your eCommerce platform supports multichannel commerce. Invest in a truly great mobile experience. Mobile commerce has arrived. It’s 60 percent of retail eCommerce worldwide.[iv] To succeed, you must deliver an excellent mobile experience. At a minimum, you need a responsive theme. Even better is mobile-first design. Better still is the ability to integrate native smartphone features like push notifications and location-based features into your mobile web pages. (This is possible through Progressive Web Apps, a new way to build web pages that act like native apps.) Progressive Web Apps—a new way to build web pages that act like native apps [i] Amy Gallo, “The Value of Keeping the Right Customers,” Harvard Business Review, October 2014. [ii] Michelle Grant, “Living in a marketplace world,” Retail Dive, April 2018 [iii] “Infographic: What are the top online marketplaces?”, Internet Retailer, 2019. [iv] Internet Retailing, February 2018.