You launched your eCommerce, hired the right team, customers love your products and everything is going well. When a business shows sustainable demand and stable growth, it's time for scaling. Scaling a business is about systematically broadening your range of operation. It's not just like regular business growth, scaling makes you rethink your whole business and adapting it in a way that enables it to serve more people and generates more revenue. In scaling, changes take place in nearly all the departments in your business.
Although scaling your eCommerce business is a stepping stone to more opportunities, new markets and more profit, it's a risky move. The scaling process requires changes across multiple functions in the company, where you need all the different departments to be on the same page. There are also many other factors that can stall your business when ignored in the scaling process. Today's article is about giving you a heads up about some of them, and it isn't just a side note, unsolved problems in the scaling process can bring your entire business to the ground. According to Neil Patel's article, 74% of startup failures can be explained by premature scaling.
Here are a few things to take care of and check on when scaling your online store.
A lot of factors affect the inventory management part of eCommerce. These factors change significantly based on the type of product you sell and the level of scaling you're working on. That's why you'll need to re-check, and re-design if necessary, your inventory management systems and warehouses to adapt to the new vision that you're working on. Maybe you'll need to move to a bigger warehouse to accommodate the projected increase in sales. Maybe you'll need to cut back on the inventory of some products while increasing your stock on others. If you ignored the inventory part in your scaling process, it can lead to huge problems when you operate your online store in the scaling phase.
Can your current logistics system support your new inventory levels and adapt to the new changes that are happening as a part of your scaling process? the answer to this question can't be done by a quick look at the current system. You need to sit down with the actual number and see which changes need to be made so that your company's logistical operation can cater well to the new demands. It might be that you need to change the shipping provider to be able to meet the new same-day shipping that you included in your online store. Maybe new legal its and bits need to be tackled before scaling the business to ensure smooth logistical operations,....etc.
Maybe the numbers are telling you that in the next stage you need to eliminate products that aren't profitable enough, increase the production of high-demand products and maybe try putting this new collection that your team developed into production lines. Scaling your business will require changes in the production system that you're following on some level or another. Businesses rarely miss out on this factor, but it's important to remember to take a close look at how the scaling process will affect, or entirely change, your production.
Marketing and Sales
Marketing and sales are what reflects your scaling process to the outer world. Usually, in the scaling process, more budget is pumped into marketing and sales to create more demand for the new products. Sometimes it's about big changes in budget allocation and other times you want your scaling process to come with a brand face-lift. Meaning that you want to change the logo, its colors, the tone of voice or the colors used by your brands...etc. (this usually happens when you decide to target a new market segment). So you'll need to make sure that the marketing changes you'll make during the scaling process are in sync with the other changes that will happen in products, inventory and the rest of your business.
Since you'll be bumping more money into marketing your online store, thus bringing in more visitors, you need to make sure that they'll come to see your brand represented in a good way. This starts from your website, your social media, blog,....etc.
Perform a quick audit to see if your current online presence resonates with what your company stands for and is in sync with your target customers. This is important because in many cases during the scaling process, businesses start targeting new segments and invading new markets. This will call for some branding and online presence changes as well.
Scaling in its core is about serving more people. And with that comes more questions, more requests and more customer service tickets. So its very important to adapt your customer service team to these new changes. This can mean increasing the number of people on your team, assigning certain customer service representatives to address specific problems that you receive repeatedly or any other change that serves your scaling process.
If you want to serve more people through your online store, you'll either need more people on board, with certain expertise that will serve your company in the new stage. Or you'll need to train and equip your current employees with new skill sets that will increase their effectiveness and enable them to handle the new challenges that will come with scaling the business. It's better to plan this out and put in on pen and paper. So that you know what are the best investments that you'll need to make in your team to equip them for the scaling process.
Automation and outsourcing
If you did this one right, you can save a lot of money, effort and hassle in scaling your online store. With the huge rise of technology, you can now literally automate anything in your business. Starting from social media by using the scheduling features on platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer, to inventory management systems all the way to using online services like Shopify Flow online store to automate refunds, checkouts and more.
On the other hand, there are certain things that aren't quite automatable yet. Yes, you can automate your social media posting, but you'll need a team of people to create the content that will be posted. This is where outsourcing kicks in. With millions of service companies worldwide, you can delegate any function of your business to another company to handle all its hassle. Like hiring social media agencies to take care of your social presence or hiring web development agencies and individuals to take care of your website maintenance and more.
See what parts of your business that you need a dedicated in-house team to work on it, and what parts you can delegate to another company or agency to take care of it on your behalf.
These are a few general aspects that you need to tackle when scaling your online store, but maybe you have other aspects that are unique to your business that you need to consider while scaling as well. Go through all the different functions that keep your business running and list the business functions that you need to work on.