Starting any eCommerce operation is tricky thing enough on its own, but that is definitely not the hardest part of the entire process. Of course, those who fail at the very beginning are simply done with it, but what happens with the companies that actually manage to make an impact and expand their business to such an extent that their online resources become insufficient?
They face a completely different challenge and need to devise the way to keep expanding, and that is not an easy task, as the contemporary online operations are extremely fast paced and not that easy to comprehend in a proper way. The evolution of eCommerce operations is the only key to success. They need to find the way to expand and improve, rather than to do everything from scratch and pass through all the growing pains they’ve already been through. So, is there a way to carry out this evolution ion a way that is natural, and without damaging what has already been done and works well?
The simple answer would be – yes there is. All you need to do is to find the experts to do it for you. Still, this is definitely not the approach that many companies would see as professional and polite. So, let us see what the parameters that could affect the transition to the higher level are and how to navigate the murky and stormy waters of online business.
There are two basic approaches to the entire ordeal, and each of them has its application in certain situations:
- Upgrading operations on existing frame
- Switching to a better eCommerce platform
Upgrading on the existing frame
This is the first and the most logical step towards the evolution of your eCommerce operations. We already mentioned the ways to pick the right platform at the very beginning in one of the previous articles, and if you have done the job properly, you already calculated future challenges into your plan. This allows you to upgrade your operations by adding bits that will improve certain segments of your effort. If you have chosen the best eCommerce platform for your initial operations, there will be space to include a 3rd party service provider or a few of them and improve the overall experience you are bringing to your customers. These upgrades carried out via third party providers will bring new features to your storefront, and that will prove to be a great way to improve quality of what you offer without a need to invest heavily in replatforming operations.
The services that should be considered as a major upgrade include:
1. Translation services
2. Logistic options
4. User experience upgrades
5. Customer retention systems
6. Shoppable content services
7. Automated marketing and reporting systems
1 – Translation services
Adding automatic option to translate the content you already possess for new markets is a good approach for fast and relatively painless expansion. Addressing to the new customers in their own language is something that will be always appreciated and rewarded with decent sales.
There is no need to invest too much and do everything from scratch if you are not attacking the new market with all the force you’ve got. A simple translation, without too much SEO optimisation can do wonders.
There are several options which are at your disposal for this segment. First and the most common thing is the manual translation. You can hire professional translators and then simply put the new content on the version of the website for the new market and that is it. This is not always the cheapest way to pursue it as the translation services can prove to be rather pricey, and it also takes a lot of time to simply make the entries. It is a lot of manual work and takes a lot of working hours.
You can also opt for the machine translation which is not of the highest quality in most cases. So, is there a way to do it in a more efficient way? Yes there is!
There are specialized translation service companies that could be actually integrated into your eCommerce website! This drastically decreases the work hours needed, the process is highly automated, and there are several levels of translation quality at your disposal.
2 – Logistic options
Adding new logistic options is always a good idea when expanding to new geographies. Simply, some nations are used to certain delivery systems, and it also may be the case that the ones you are using are not available or are too expensive in the market you are expanding to. Even the most popular global delivery and logistic systems may prove to be insufficient in certain countries, so investing in this segment is always a good move that will provide decent return on investment.
Adding new options is in most cases possible. It requires a bit of a web development effort, but it is something your developers can help you out with easily. By adding these new logistic providers you will be able to further adapt your operations to the new reality.
3 – Personalization
Adding personalization tools to your website is something that can bring your entire operation on a whole new level. The end result is a completely new user experience for your customers, easier navigation based on the recommendations these tools provide, and ultimately – increased sales.
We have discussed this in detail in the article on AB testing. These tools of course vary in quality and effectiveness, but they vary in price and integration requirements as well. Even the simplest options will bring a qualitative increase to your website, and it is always possible to further upgrade and add the more powerful tool.
The part that is important here is that these tools will allow you to track the user’s behaviour on the website, make recommendations based on the type of product they are browsing and increase conversion rates and sales. Simply put – many customers will be encouraged to make impulsive purchases. They will simply get the suggestions to buy items they would most probably overlook if there was no personalization tool involved.
As we already mentioned, there is a variety of such tools out there and there will be an option available for you regardless of the platform you are using.
4 – User experience upgrades
User experience upgrades are a constant in eCommerce development. They can vary in form, and can range from simply changing the outlook of the website (already explained in detail in the article dedicated to the UX), to adding new 3rd party service providers that will increase the quality of the UX in general.
This involves everything mentioned in the previous points, but also brings some new moments. The most apparent and at the same time the most important segment is connected to feedbacks and interaction with the customers.
Adding live chat option for the customer support, ratings, and reviews options for the customers, and even option to carry out true comparison of the sizes of purchased products to the ones customers are already familiar with.
Each and every of these improvements allows increased customer satisfaction, increased engagement, and finally – increased sales.
5 – Customer retention systems
In case that you have opted for an open source eCommerce platform, or some of the weaker SaaS platforms, the chances are that you don’t have very well developed customer retention options at your disposal.
However, this is not hard to remedy, as the integration of various customer retention tools is usually quite simple and inexpensive. The most common cases in dealing with this issue involve a small web development operation in order to integrate a cart abandonment system.
6 – Shoppable content systems
These services are able to bring the entire user experience to a completely new level. With this addition, it is possible to create all sorts of content (articles, pictures, videos) and to make it shoppable with a single click.
The entire concept is rather new and mostly targets the mobile users, but it allows creation of highly engaging content that converts extremely well.
There are several well established options available worldwide, and the integration process is rather simple with all of them. Given the investment required and benefits provided, this is one of the upgrades that can prove to be very effective.
7 – Automated marketing and reporting systems
All the businesses that expand rapidly sooner or later start experiencing troubles with manpower and excessive work hours required to carry out all the necessary operations. The problem is not easily solvable, as expanding internal resources can increase the expenditures on a massive scale.
The best possible approach to overcome this problem is the attempt to automate as many operations as possible. The largest savings can be made via automating marketing processes, especially if the company uses paid advertising on a massive scale.
Integrating product level marketing platforms, full stack customer platforms, and mailing clients into the eCommerce platform you are using can provide all the necessary cuts you are looking to make. It also allows all operations to become more reliable and less prone to critical errors, as the number of people involved in them is significantly smaller.
Also, implementing advanced reporting systems which most of the marketing platforms provide allows deeper insight into the business and customers conduct. The data are available in a more precise form, and usually the key parameters are perfectly digested in order to provide the option to make assessments and decisions fast. This additionally decreases the need for more personnel, makes operations smoother, and reduces costs while increases the efficiency and reliability.
If all the mentioned options have been depleted and you still need to improve further, replatforming is the only solution.
Switching to a more powerful eCommerce platform
This is the last option you should explore. Replatforming involves huge investments, and when you are moving onto something significantly more efficient and powerful than you are using at the moment – there will be a hefty price to pay.
The cause to this step can be either the fact that you have made a bad assessment with the initial choice of the platform, or the fact that your business has grown so much that the option you choose at the beginning is not sufficient anymore. These things happen. At least in the latter case, it means that due to the increase in business, the transition to the new platform is well established in financial terms.
In any case, this operation will include an entire web development segment now under a different platform; complete revamping of the front end, and a significant change (in most cases) in running expenses for licensing or platform rental. It may also be a perfect opportunity to improve graphic design and visual elements of your online store. Additionally, it may require some retraining for the staff in charge of running daily operations.
Still, at the end you will have a new work frame which contains a lot more powerful core features, that usually works much better, and causes far less problems. It can actually reflect quite positive on the running expenses in terms of maintenance.
However, when there is definitely no more options for upgrade and you have to change the eCommerce platform you have been using so far, make sure to go through the entire selection process properly. Replatforming in eCommerce makes sense only when it is done with a solid plan, and having to do it every 2 years can cause more problems than it brings benefits. So, always plan in advance and make sure that the new platform will be able to fulfil your needs for at least a few next years. We have already published an entire article on the selection process, and you can check it out HERE.
Naturally, we are available for consultations whenever you might need our help. Studioworx has a huge experience in both upgrading eCommerce operations and in replatforming and we are able to provide all the guidance you might require. You can contact us via our website or via phone whenever you feel you might require our assistance!