When it comes to running an online store, it can be difficult to define success.
No two stores are exactly the same, from different product sourcing and shipping to branding and marketing. This makes it important to think of ecommerce success in relative, pragmatic terms, even when you’re trying to answer some of the biggest, most ambitious questions about running a successful business.
How do you define success with all of these variables to consider?
Will My Online Business Be Successful?
Success in ecommerce ultimately means converting shoppers into buyers, but getting from Point A to Point B is more layered and complex than it seems. Here are a few examples of ecommerce success:
- If your product is straightforward and simple to use, steady sales through a paid advertising campaign could be your measure of success.
- If you sell a product that can last for months before it needs to be repurchased, success might mean repeat sales every few months.
- If your product requires a lot of research and consumer education, success could mean gathering email addresses to keep a list of qualified leads for newsletter marketing.
- Maybe you’re focused on building an engaged and responsive community with your customers – a robust and active social media profile is likely your measure of success.
Keep some more specific questions in mind when you start thinking about what success means to you as a business owner.
- Do you need to educate customers on your product or how to use it?
- Is it important for your customers to become brand advocates of your business?
- Is repeat business important?
- Is a business’s social responsibility important to your customers?
- Are your customers in need of incentives in order to buy?
Success for a customer could mean great savings, responsive customer service and supplemental information, an engaged community of loyal customers, or anything in between.
Pinpointing that definition of success will help lead the way for the rest of your business efforts.
Is My Business Already Successful?
It can be easy to overlook small victories that may already be happening on your site.
From great product reviews or an engaged social community, not every success is synonymous with a sales graph moving up and to the right. Here are a few scenarios of how you could measure success when you’re first getting started.
- Order processing is consistently fast and efficient.
- Abandoned shopping carts are minimal, signaling affordable shipping and competitive pricing.
- A customer leaves a great review or vouches for you online, which indicates your product is high quality and your site’s content makes the buying process intuitive and clear.
- A social media ad garners great engagement and sends traffic to your site, even if that traffic doesn’t purchase right away.
Defining an Ecommerce Success Outlook
We all want to see the fruits of our labor materialize, especially when we’ve invested time, energy and money into something. However, it’s important to scale success for the short and long term to make sure realistic goals are being set. Below are some realistic goals to set for the future of your online business.
Focus on foundational tasks in the first quarter of being open for business rather than looking at sales. Success at this stage is the opportunity to lay all the groundwork for future success on your site.
- Core SEO elements are optimized (meta tags, descriptions, photos, videos, etc.).
- Social media profiles are up and running with supplementary ads and an organized content calendar.
- Data analysis (Google Analytics & Search Console, for example) is in place and target demographics are clearly defined.
- Site design is clean, the user experience is simple, and the site has been tested for usability errors.
At the half-year mark, a business likely has a clearer picture of who its customers are and how they interact with a site. Aside from associated sales from those early customers, success at this stage is the chance to refine the look and feel of your site to better match your emerging customer base.
- Patterns in sales may start to emerge, letting you know what products sell well, to whom, and how frequently.
- Potential content gaps are more evident now that customers are visiting your site.
- Search engines will start making correlations between your site and the target market to identify qualified traffic and site pages relevant to that traffic.
- Engagement data on social networks is more robust, helping you understand how customers are interacting with your brand.
At 12 months, you’re able to review site performance data for any trends, review recurring business costs, and make adjustments for Year Two. At this stage, success is having enough data to make informed decisions about what to invest in during the next year of business.
- Costs such as inventory management, product development, and shipping have had time to be weighed against revenue.
- Analytics data can help you understand business seasonality and customer behavior when users visit your site.
- Social media ad and content data can define what sort of relationship customers are looking for from your brand.
At Year Five, your business has streamlined its processes and your customer base is well-defined. Success at this stage is having a very clear understanding of which products sell, what content customers want to consume, and how customers want to be engaged online.
- You can make very accurate forecasts of sales performance based on site traffic and user behavior from year to year.
- You have a firm grasp on what sort of advertising your customers prefer and how they prefer to shop.
- Overhead costs are lean, and logistics networks are lean and efficient.
How Can I Ensure Success for My Business?
With so many websites competing for the same customers in the same space, success depends on continued investment in promotion.
Handling the day-to-day operations of a business often takes up the majority of one’s time, leaving promotion and marketing behind. An ecommerce business owner regularly wears dozens of different hats to make a business successful, so why not hand some of those hats over to dedicated professionals?
Studio is designed for entrepreneurs just like you. We’re a full-service digital marketing agency built to grow your ecommerce store. Growth isn’t just your site’s sales and performance – it’s your brand, your customer base, your marketing expertise, and your confidence as a business owner. From web design and development to search engine marketing, social media marketing, and conversion optimization, Studio is here to grow with you.