If there’s one thing that recent world events have shown us, it’s the value of diversifying your eCommerce business. Thousands of online sellers have been impacted by changing buying habits, broken supply chains, and disrupted FBA services, despite there being a simple and affordable solution: diversification.
In this guest post, we’re exploring the value of diversifying your eCommerce business and sharing some quick and effective areas you can get started with.
The value of diversifying your eCommerce business
Diversifying your Amazon business involves adding more strings to your bow, showing a greater deal of variety, and covering more bases.
1) Spread risk
Diversification spreads your risk. If you rely on one manufacturer, one product, or one sales channel and it becomes unpopular, disrupted, or ineffective, you immediately lose out.
Diversification spreads your risk so that if one SKU or supplier fails, you have other options to rely upon.
2) Increase profits
Diversification increases your profits. By diversifying your products, sales, and marketing methods, you appeal to more customers, increase your sources of revenue, and boost your overall sales.
You can also use diversification to operate your eCommerce business in the most profitable way possible, without impacting service.
3) Enhance business value
Diversification increases your business value. While you might not be looking to sell your eCommerce business right now, it could be something to consider in the future.
Multiple traffic sources, products, and forms of monetization all boost business growth and enhance the overall value of your eCommerce business.
How to diversify your eCommerce business
There are three steps to effectively diversifying your eCommerce business:
Conduct a risk assessment to identify the areas of your business that rely on only one factor for continuity. For example, products, sales channels, advertising, etc.
Research the product, partner, or software that can help you to reduce this reliance and increase your diversification, following your usual research methods.
Test your diversification in action, ensuring that it complements your existing set-up and can be relied upon when necessary.
Where to diversify your eCommerce business
To get you thinking about where you can utilize diversification in your business, let’s look at four common and effective areas for eCommerce; products, sales channels, operations, and communication channels.
If Coca-Cola needs more than one product to survive, then you do too. A diverse product selection is great for:
Attracting new and different customers
Retaining customers and encouraging repeat custom
Reducing the risk of an unsuccessful or seasonal product
Keeping your business in-line with current trends
There are three types of product diversification:
This involves selling products similar to your existing products. For example, expanding from one style of running trainer to two styles.
This involves selling new products to your existing customers. For example, expanding from running trainers to running shorts.
This involves selling unrelated products to a different audience. For example, expanding from running trainers to ski wear.
According to Shopify, multi-channel selling increases revenue by 38%, 120%, and 190% with each additional channel – making sales channel diversification essential for growing eCommerce businesses.
Beyond Amazon, there are four big sales channels to consider, depending on your product selection.
With customer numbers and fast shipping capabilities to rival Amazon, Walmart is a popular second marketplace for mainstream products.
Finally, if you’re looking to bring Amazon shoppers directly to your own website, Shopify is an easy-to-use, and simple-to-set-up eCommerce platform that’s great for selling niche items to direct customers.
According to the State of Multi-Channel eCommerce Survey, eBay is the first recommended sales channel for existing Amazon sellers, especially those selling mainstream products at a competitive price.
Wish’s mobile-first platform and curated product feed makes it a popular sales channel for Amazon sellers targeting younger audiences with niche and budget items.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that a diverse supply chain is crucial for weathering a crisis and keeping your business open. Look at your suppliers and fulfillment sustainability to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Look to spread your suppliers across more than one country to overcome any local disruptions and travel restrictions. If you can’t find suppliers in multiple countries, use suppliers in different regions who use different transport networks.
Protect your customers’ orders by using different packaging suppliers, warehouse locations, and shipping carriers. If you cannot do this in-house, use an outsourced fulfillment partner who uses multiple shipping carriers, warehouses, and sales channels to maintain fast shipping speeds regardless of what’s happening in the world.
For example, Deliverr’s warehouse partner network is spread across the USA, making it more resilient due to the flexibility and ability to expand where demand is.
Offer: Use the promo code TURNKEYDELIVERR in your Deliverr portal to get 30 days of free storage after inventory is received. Create a free account.
Finally, don’t forget that your customers diversify their shopping and communication methods too. Ensure that you deliver your message to customers through ads, search results, and other channels.
Amazon PPC advertising is ideal for getting your products and brand in front of the right audience on Amazon. However, don’t forget about other advertising methods, such as Facebook advertisement, for reaching shoppers at different stages of their product discovery.
Ensuring you have fast shipping tags activated for your listings will help you increase your placement and visibility in the search results. But, remember that when diversifying your sales channels, you must diversify your fast shipping programs too, including Walmart TwoDay Delivery and Wish Express.
There are many ways to communicate with eCommerce buyers about product questions, order updates, and problems – use the same variety of communication channels that your customers use, including social media, SMS, and email.
Diversifying your eCommerce business may sound like a lot of work. You’ve already spent time finding the perfect product and partners, now you need to do it all again?
However, the time invested in diversifying your products, partners, and processes can significantly pay off with business growth, continuity, and survival – even when the unexpected happens.
We hope that this guide has got you thinking about how you can start diversifying your business – whether that’s your products, fulfillment, or advertising.
This post was written by our friends at FreeeUp for the TurnKey Playbook for Amazon Blog
While demand planning can be intimidating, it is the backbone of any eCommerce site. Inventory forecasting will help you increase profits, plan your sales goals, and show you when you need to order merchandise.
Turning to freelancers and boutique agencies to outsource eCommerce operations is not a new concept. It’s been around for a while and it persists to this day because it is one of the most cost-efficient ways to manage certain business processes.
This is particularly true for eCommerce businesses. In 2020, eCommerce businesses can reap a variety of benefits from outsourcing.
For starters, outsourcing lets you focus on your core competencies. Let’s face it, there’s a lot that goes into running an eCommerce store and we don’t always have the skills or the resources to do it. Outsourcing also helps you increase productivity since you don’t have to spend time learning tricky details of eCommerce that are outside of your core competencies.
When you outsource eCommerce operations, you also reduce overhead costs and manage your company’s resources better. Furthermore, you can hire freelancers depending on your current needs so you can save on basic salary, taxes, and benefits.
Over the years, the role of freelancers has evolved particularly in the eCommerce arena. Today, we’re listing down five ways to outsource eCommerce operations in 2020. Let’s get started!
Trend #1: Social Commerce
Now more than ever, eCommerce customers are spending the majority of their time on social media platforms. In 2020, social commerce continues to become an integral part of the eCommerce sphere. It not only supports brand awareness building through social interaction but it also assists customers in their purchasing journey.
In a nutshell, freelancers can help create a pleasant social eCommerce experience that will encourage users to complete their purchase.
A freelancer can help you capitalize on social commerce and bring in more profit. They can make your brand more relatable and authentic by using visuals that resonate with your customers’ social feeds.
A social commerce expert can also help you monitor your fans’ purchase intent and help you make a move when the enthusiasm for a product is at its peak.
Trend #2: AR and VR Experience
Augmented reality or AR lets customers envision your product in their own spaces. This experience helps build their buying confidence and engages your customers better. This year, more customers are being introduced to this concept, and soon, this will be a crucial part of marketing products and services.
Implementing an AR and VR experience in your online store motivates shoppers by offering them more product guidance. It also provides users with a more customized shopping experience right in the comfort of their own homes.
Moreover, it’s an excellent way for retailers like you to provide incredible value to confused or undecided shoppers.
While AR and VR are no longer considered an emerging technology, it isn’t always part of every eCommerce business owner’s core competencies. But the good news is you can always outsource this service to enrich your customers’ shopping experience.
Freelance AR developers can help differentiate your brand from your competitors. If you have a mobile app store, they can incorporate AR capabilities. Alternatively, if you have a Shopify store, you can seek the help of an AR developer to get your 3D products into your store using Shopify AR.
Trend #4: Influencer Marketing
In 2020, consumers are shifting further away from traditional advertising and are relying more on recommendations and reviews for their purchase decisions. In fact, 68 percent of people said trustworthy reviews were the strongest influencing factor on where they decided to shop online. Moreover, product reviews turned out to be the most popular type of user-generated content submitted by online shoppers.
Influencer marketing or social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from people who have expert knowledge or social influence in their field takes center stage this year.
If you’re new to the influencer marketing game, outsourcing this service is a better option than trying to do it in-house.
Developing and executing influencer marketing strategies and creative campaigns
Identifying and building relationships with prominent influencers and thought leaders in your industry
Developing content ideas, writing, and curating content for your social media platforms
Researching relevant industry experts, competitors, target audience, and users
Brainstorming creative approaches to influencer campaigns
Staying up to date with emerging trends, technologies, and influencers
Trend #4: Customers Have More Expectations with Order Fulfillment
This year, customers have more demands when it comes to order fulfillment. Customers are expecting pricing transparency and are becoming more wary of unexpected prices and fees. People are also expecting financing options, particularly for big purchases. Moreover, free shipping and multiple shipping options are major customer demands these days.
Your customers also expect to be able to track their orders on your store and to have real-time visibility into the status of their orders. Furthermore, consumers tend to expect a standard delivery period of 3 days. If it takes more than a week, then they are likely to abandon their carts.
Hiring a freelancer order fulfillment manager can help you stay on top of your customers’ demands this year. They can manage all of your orders across multiple sales channels to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
They can help process orders as they are submitted to your store. They will regularly check on new orders throughout the day so they are processed and shipped out to customers as quickly as possible.
A fulfillment specialist can also be responsible for adding tracking numbers to orders and letting customers know when to expect their package. Finally, they can deal with issues on orders that your customers may come across.
Of course, you can also automate some of these processes. You can always hire a freelance developer who can incorporate features into your online store that will satisfy the needs of your customers.
Trend #5: The Power of SMS
When you decide to outsource eCommerce operations, you should also consider the role of SMS in your customers’ daily lives.
While text messaging isn’t a new concept, not many brands are taking advantage of this medium to communicate with their customers. Did you know that text messages have an open rate of 98 percent, compared to 20 percent for emails?
SMS can be used in a variety of ways including informing users of in-store or online promotions, advertising opening hours, announcing new stock, and requesting customer feedback.
What’s more, SMS is an excellent addition to your customer service strategy. It allows for multi-channel contact points that people can use if they need after-sales support.
An SMS marketing specialist can help you reach more customers who are glued to their smartphones for most of the day. Some of the tasks they can do for you include:
Choosing the right keyword that’s relevant to your business and will resonate with your customers
Writing automated text message responses and scheduling them to send to subscribers once they join your list.
Creating valuable messages to convince visitors to opt-in.
Growing your list by sharing fantastic offers that customers can’t say no to.
Posting promotions on social media and inserting sign-up widgets and banners on your website
Developing deals and sending them out to customers regularly to reward subscribers for their loyalty
Start Outsourcing with FreeeUp Today
If you’re looking for the right freelancers that can help you achieve your scalability goals, then look no further than FreeeUp. As a freelancer marketplace, it caters to thousands of businesses all over the world looking to save time and money in the hiring process. Sign up today and create an account to outsource eCommerce operations for your business today!
While demand planning can be intimidating, it is the backbone of any eCommerce site. Inventory forecasting will help you increase profits, plan your sales goals, and show you when you need to order merchandise.
What Is Demand Planning?
Demand planning utilizes inventory forecasting to improve planning accuracy and align inventory levels with the demand cycle. In short, inventory levels are coordinated with customer demand. You want to have enough inventory to meet demand but avoid overstock. Solid demand planning lowers costs and leads to increased sales margins and profitability.
What Can Inventory Forecasting Do for Your Company?
Inventory forecasting is essential to profitable operations and increased customer satisfaction. Without accurate forecasting, maintaining a lean and nimble inventory can be challenging. Here is how your business can benefit from inventory forecasting:
Reduced Inventory Costs
Accurate inventory forecasting means lean and responsive inventory. In that way, businesses only purchase and store what will sell. Forecasting enables merchants to keep track of sales and anticipated demand.
When you have the right inventory amounts, you don’t need to order more than what will sell, and customers can enjoy accurate and timely delivery of their products.
Plan Your Goals
Know what your goals are for your inventory and ensure that they are realistic. There are many variables in your stock, and you must consider these when goal-setting. If you don’t have some reasonable idea of what will be needed, you run the risk of tying up your capital unnecessarily. Leading you to spend money that will not earn you an immediate return in the form of unsold inventory.
Inventory forecasting also makes it easier for you to project anticipated margins. You can determine how much will sell, what revenue you anticipate to receive, and how much profit you will eventually make.
Proper forecasts mean critical business decisions can be made with greater accuracy. For example, decisions regarding business expansion, cutting costs, or requesting outside funding can be made based on projected inventory and sales.
Insight About Your Current Stock
Forecasting provides a framework for obtaining detailed information. If you manage multiple warehouses, you can track the demand and availability of a particular product to determine the quantity you need. Forecasting allows you to plan for the pricing and movement of specific products in advance. For example, a product that sells well on the West Coast might not sell as well on the East Coast. Demand forecasting allows you to optimize your stock so that the right products are always in the right place.
Forecasting gives you visibility into your current inventory so you can make better informed and more strategic decisions. In seeing demand trends by category or product option, you’ll have more information to decide which new products to add to your catalog. For example, if red dresses show increased sales month over month for the last year, you can forecast that demand will continue to grow.
Order What You Need, When You Need It
Want to determine which products will be available and in what quantities? This is another reason to use demand planning. This ensures that you order items only when they’re needed, thereby saving on inventory costs and improving cash flow. More efficient ordering enables you to order the right items at the right time for customers. This leads to effective cost management and continuous growth.
How Does Inventory Forecasting Work?
To determine what inventory you should have, begin with a forecast of future sales. Sales for the coming 30, 60 or 90 days are based on past sales velocity and seasonality of the products.
Consider the following for an accurate sales forecast:
Sales velocity is the rate of sales, minus stockouts (days out of stock). Use sales velocity rather than average sales over the past 30 days because you want to know the rate of sales when inventory is available for sale. If you don’t omit days when inventory was out of stock, then you could underestimate future sales.
Seasonality will inform you if the emphasis for past sales should be on the most recent months or should be on trends from 12 months prior.
Sales trends show you if demand is holding steady or increasing in recent months.
While many factors come into demand planning, you simply cannot afford to ignore it. Inventory forecasting lets you to have the fingers on the pulse of your business. Your inventory will be adequate and nimble, making for greater profit margins and more money for you to invest in your business.
About Inventory Planner Inventory Planner launched in 2012 to help eCommerce merchants save time and money when purchasing inventory to better meet customer demand. Inventory Planner supports merchants as they grow to see information from all of their sales channels. Merchants use Inventory Planner’s replenishment recommendations and assist with inventory planning, forecasting, reporting, and purchase order creation. Learn more about how Inventory Planner helps Amazon sellers to forecast demand and improve profits.
Let’s be honest. Hiring can be one of the hardest things to do in your business. It can be difficult to let go of certain tasks or responsibilities, because are worried that you’ll never find someone who will be able to do them like you. Am I right?
The fact is, when you take the time to hire the right person and properly train them to execute tasks according to your systems and standards, you’ll find that hiring is the best thing that ever happened to you. So let’s talk about hiring for your customer service team. Here are three tools you should focus on building prior to hiring your first team member:
A Tone Guide
Whoever is doing your customer service is a representative of your company. That’s why it’s important that they learn to speak like the company “speaks”. We recommend creating a tone guide so that they know the way in which you want communication from your company to feel. Is your brand formal or more laid back? Would you close and email with “Love, Jenny” or would that be totally strange coming from your gym equipment brand? Listing out words and phrases that reflect your brand will help your customer service team members communicate in a way that is aligned with your brand while still feeling spontaneous.
We love using Loom videos to train our employees. Making a video of yourself performing the task you are wanting to delegate is a great way to ensure your team gets the job done exactly the way you would do it. Walk them step by step through every part of the process, and be sure to narrate as you go along so they have a reference that is both visual and auditory.
In any business, employees are going to run into questions or scenarios that are unexpected. That’s why it’s important to establish a process that your customer service employee can use if they don’t know how to handle a particular situation. In addition to having someone above them that can answer their question directly, you should also create a document where these responses are recorded in case the same issue comes up again. Don’t just consider these scenarios one-time occurrences. Make sure the information is easy to document and disseminate across the whole team for future reference.
Customer service is one of the first positions we recommend hiring for in order to free up your time from more pressing tasks! With the right team members ensuring your customers are happy, just imagine what other goals you’ll be focus on and accomplish! If you have any other questions about building your team and growing your business, we’d love to share more with you. Head over to www.turnkeyproductmanagement.com/apply/.
If you work in e-commerce, you’ve probably heard of the dynamic Ezra Firestone, founder of Smartmarketer.com. He has helped countless online sellers to dial in their marketing and increase their sales, using his arsenal of tools and resources. Ezra was on the Playbook for Amazon Podcast episode 19 last month, and shared some real gems with our audience. In case you haven’t tuned in yet, here are three of Ezra’s teachings that have truly transformed our business:
He gives more than he takes.
While Ezra’s created multiple businesses now doing $20M+ in revenue, he also freely gives of his advice, content, mentorship, and experience so others can work towards achieving their own massive success. We love his Facebook page and his frequent videos that are always the kick in the pants we need to take things to the next level.
He enjoys his life and lets his quirkiness work for him.
While it takes an extraordinary amount of work to be an entrepreneur, we love how Ezra doesn’t preach a 23-hour workday mentality. He’s about working smart so he can enjoy his hobbies, his family, his rural living, etc. Check out this video to hear more about his view on business. If you have something that makes your business unique, use it as an asset to set you apart!
The most successful sellers we work with have systems in place so that their entire business is not hinging upon them showing up to keep the motor running. If you are at a place where a day off would tank your sales, you need to make some changes (check out these Accelerator courses to get started with some of these systems). Ezra epitomizes success in this field, and we love watching him work smart and remember to laugh at himself.
He recognizes that you are only as strong as your team.
We learned so much of what we know about hiring and developing rapport among a virtual team from Ezra. Check out his video on team building here. It’s not easy trying to scale a business, and it’s more than just the nuts and bolts of a business that make it thrive. Ezra shows how it’s really about developing a team culture and when everyone is all in on the collaborative vision you share for your team, THAT is the recipe for success.
So, whether you are in need of marketing tools and tips or you just need a virtual mentor, Ezra has made such an impact on TurnKey and our team members, and we’re grateful for all he shares with this industry. Who do you look up to in this space?
This post was written by our friends at FreeUp for the TurnKey Playbook for Amazon Blog
So you’re ready to consider hiring freelance virtual assistants for your online business – Congratulations! Hiring remotely is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. They will help you get unstuck and fuel the growth of your business.
Here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you begin the process of looking for and hiring freelance virtual assistants for eCommerce.
1. Value Your Time
Delegate Simpler Tasks
When you find yourself spending too much time working on repetitive tasks, you are hurting your business. As the owner, you might want to spend some time systematizing those tasks by SOPs. You need these to keep things optimized as you aim to automate what you can — this is how eCommerce businesses like yours can get ahead.
Once you’ve created the different processes and systems to execute repetitive tasks, you are ready to outsource them to freelance virtual assistants.
Avoid Becoming Overwhelmed
Another sure sign you’re in need of a virtual assistant is that you find yourself completely overwhelmed by the number of tasks on your to-do list. You may hesitate about delegating these tasks because you’re good at them or you enjoy them, but you need to spend your time focus on what tasks that cannot be handled by anyone other than you. If you continue to perform these tasks you run the risk of getting burned out because there’s just not enough hours in the day. As a result, these delegatable tasks won’t get done properly anyway.
Hiring a virtual assistant will allow you to regain some freedom in your business and give you time to focus on growth and help you maintain the passion that you had for your business at the beginning. Not only that but if your business is reliant solely on you to complete every day-to-day operational task, how will you ever take a break? You need to have the flexibility to get away when you need to and spend time with friends and family, or at the very least know that your business can function in case of an emergency.
2. Know Your Weaknesses
As you look into different areas of your business, you will encounter different tasks that you continually performing, but aren’t necessarily good at. You can continue trying to develop the skills needed to perform these tasks, but that may not be the best way to tackle it. If you’re not an expert in these areas, you won’t be able to complete them with excellence or create the best processes for their completion.
Your business deserves the best! Hiring people who are experienced in the areas where you lack knowledge is a worthwhile investment. From creating the process or system to performing the actual work, you need freelance virtual assistants who have made careers out of doing these exact tasks. With the boom that eCommerce has experienced over the past decade, these professionals are easy to fins. Moreover, hiring them will save you the time and hassle of learning eCommerce tasks, which are usually highly technical.
3. Prepare a Detailed Description
Before you even begin to look for freelance virtual assistants, you need to know exactly what you’re hiring for and exactly how to enumerate these tasks. The more attention you give to the task description you’re going to post online, the better your chances are of attracting the right candidates.
Since you usually do not speak to freelancers face to face, a proper description of the position you are hiring for will help both of you determine whether or not it’s a good fit.
If you’ve spent some time creating systems and processes within your business, then this shouldn’t be too much of a burden for you. Just make sure to be as clear as possible about what you want done and how you want it done. Be sure to add in any other requirements you have, like specific skills and experience, along with your personal preferences. Being clear from the outset will ensure that you are able to find the perfect match for your tasks and your business!
4. Don’t Settle
If you’re busy – as most business owners are – you’ll be tempted to hire as fast as you can. For most people, this means picking up the first freelance virtual assistants who respond to your postings and seem “ok”. Don’t make this mistake!
You need to be careful and patient throughout the hiring process if you want to find the right people for your business. The Internet is a wild world with a lot of scammers lurking around, and because you’re online, there’s a higher chance of attracting them.
Consider utilizing a contractor marketplace like FreeeUp rather than an online hiring platform. FreeeUp pre-vets freelance virtual assistants with a focus on eCommerce so that you don’t have to wade through dozens of resumes, cover letters, profiles and portfolios (on top of trying to weed out the scammers and spot the true professionals). You submit your request and get introduced to the best match. This allows you to use your valuable time to focus on a final interview before you hire and do a test project to make sure you have the right fit.
5. Properly Onboard Hires
Once you’ve found a few great freelance virtual assistants to work with, don’t just send them off to start working on tasks. You need to spend some time to properly acquaint them with your business. Even though it seems that there are thousands of stores just like yours, every eCommerce store is unique.
Onboarding is a very important step when working with remote contractors. Freelance virtual assistants don’t have the benefit of a central office location where they can meet everyone they’re going to be working with on a daily basis. They won’t be able to get a feel for the company culture or the work environment unless you talk to them about it. They won’t know what you expect from them unless you tell them directly because there are no conversations to listen in on or water cooler talk to guide them during their transition.
Schedule a time to meet with new hires and introduce them to your business and the people they’ll be working with. Write down your personal preferences and your expectations regarding the tasks they’re going to take on. Then discuss these with them so everything is clearly laid out. Make sure that everyone is on the same page before they get started on whatever you’ve hired them to do. Also, be sure to build in periodic check-ins to state expectations and offer feedback.This will make everything go so much more smoothly and prevent costly misunderstandings.
Hiring freelance virtual assistants can be a truly rewarding experience if you go about it carefully. Make sure that you keep these 5 tips in mind as you prepare to search for the people you need for your eCommerce business, hire the right fit for each task, and integrate them into your business operations.
TurnKey Tip: Pair our Inner Circle Coaching with a great hire from FreeeUp! Not only will you get the customized strategies you need to grow your business, but you’ll also get a quality team member to help you implement those strategies!