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.
Do you sell on both your own website and Amazon? A major objection we hear from physical product sellers is that they don’t want to sell on Amazon because they don’t want to cannibalize their sales on their own site. While we totally understand this concern, we also wanted to provide you some rationale about why being on Amazon can only help your overall sales. So if you’re on the fence about selling both places, let’s dive into why we advise physical product sellers to have an Amazon presence.
The first thing people object to is simply the idea that if someone buys your product on Amazon versus on your website, you have a lesser margin on the sale after Amazon fees. This is completely valid, and there may be a percentage of buyers that hear about your brand from somewhere and then search to see if it’s on Amazon. When they find it there, they follow through because it’s just easier than going to a separate website. While those pesky Amazon fees do cut into your margins, what if someone hears about your brand and doesn’t go to the effort of tracking down your website? You lose the sale entirely. But if someone is able to type in keywords close enough to yield your product listing on Amazon, you’ve just made a sale that could have been lost.
Going along with this same idea, some people don’t feel comfortable shopping on websites they’ve never heard of. In an age where credit card fraud is a major issue, Amazon tends to be the most trusted shopping site. People already have their payment info logged in and they are literally one click away from an impulsive purchase. Sellers want to eliminate as many barriers as possible to get someone to purchase.
Making it easy for customers to to find your product, put it in their cart, check out with ease, and trust that they can get the product on their doorstep reliably and in a short timeframe, is what makes shopping on Amazon a customer’s #1 preference if given the option. To be honest, if I am shopping on a seller’s website and go to complete my purchase, but my purse is in the car and I don’t have access to my credit card right away, I will typically just abandon my cart. Sale lost. But there have been countless times when I remember while waiting in the carpool line that I need to order new supplements, and I pull out my phone, easily find the ones I want, and less than a minute later the purchase is done!
Here are some tips for sellers who are still concerned about if Amazon is the right fit:
If you have a large catalogue of products, only list your top sellers. Don’t waste time on less profitable or less popular SKUs. Spend your time and money on listing the ones that will offer you the most return. That way, even without having all your products there, your brand has a presence on Amazon when someone searches for you.
Check the potential in your niche. Not every product is a homerun on Amazon. Heavy, hard to ship items (unless you go the FBM route), products with tight expiration date, merchandise that is so unique no one would think to search for them, and SKUs that are doing less than $10k per month are typically not a good fit.
If you’re worried about profit margins after the Amazon fees, you can always list the retail price slightly higher on Amazon than it is on your website. Many customers either won’t compare the prices at all or, if they do, they figure the speed and ease of Amazon make the price worth it.
While every case is different, and we’re super happy to give you our honest assessment as to your potential on Amazon, we believe that it is in the best interest of most sellers to have a presence on Amazon, even if they are already doing well on their own site or in retail. The exposure you get being featured on Amazon’s platform is unmatched by any other sales channel in the world! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow your audience beyond those who have already heard about you, and reach the millions that click “Add to Cart” on Amazon every single day.
We talk to sellers everyday who feel like their sales have plateaued or they are just getting started and they aren’t sure if they are even doing this whole Amazon thing the right way. But…they don’t know what to do about it. That’s why bringing in a coach at any stage of business is a wise choice, because then you can ensure you are moving the needle forward and focusing on the right things. If you haven’t already signed on with a coach, it might be because you feel pressed for time and can’t imagine adding one more to-do to your list. We totally understand the hesitancy, but trust us, this is one to-do that’s a must-do!
A Fresh Perspective
A coach can come in and help you see the things that you might not have noticed. You are so entrenched in your business, and if you’ve been staring at your product listing for years and know your product inside and out, you may benefit from having fresh eyes on your listing. It’s totally normal to maintain the status quo as an Amazon seller, but you can’t expect different results until you do things differently.
Cutting Edge Strategies
Part of an Amazon coach’s job is to understand the new strategies, systems and tools that are available to Amazon sellers. While you may only know a bit beyond what is working (or not working) for your personal business, a coach has experience in various niches and the time to stay up-to-date on what is working on Amazon right now! For example, while physically mailers may work great for some products, expanding social media might be a better choice for others. When you’re able to dial in new strategies that work well for your products, you can apply them across your entire product catalogue and replicate it week after week.
Prioritizing Your Time
I know your time is precious and you don’t want more to-dos, but a coach can help you select which tasks are the most important and what actions will yield the biggest bang for your buck. Don’t waste time on tasks that don’t give you a high ROI. Let your coach offer you the direct path to success as they tell you not only what to do but also how to do it. Think about how much time you’ll save when you aren’t handed a personalized roadmap instead of fumbling around in the dark trying to figure things out on your own. You’re welcome!
It’s a new year and we want the BEST for your business. We would love to help you supercharge your sales. To find out exactly what type of coaching your business needs, click here to apply. Be sure to let your client success team member know that you read this article and we’ll give you 20% off your first month! Good luck!
Who’s in your Rolodex (for you millennials, a Rolodex is where we used to keep contact information before cell phones and social media)? Do you know who to call when you are struggling to find a new manufacturer or who can help you redesign your packaging? Connections are everything in the business world, but so many times we aren’t connecting with other peers in the e-commerce space because we are too busy and feel like networking is just another thing on a long list of to-dos. Networking is essential when it comes to growing a successful business and it’s easier than you think. Here are some simple principles we follow when it comes to networking and cultivating business relationships:
Quality Over Quantity
At conferences and networking events, you don’t need to meet everyone in the room. We recommend identifying exactly what you hope to gain from the event before you go and keeping this goal in mind while you’re there. Do you want to connect with someone who can help you with marketing? Is meeting someone who is a target customer and getting your product in their hands your goal? On Episode 3 of the Playbook for Amazon Podcast, we heard Kevin Liang (one of the best networkers we know) talk about how he always focuses on the one type of person he wants to meet at a business event, and is strategic about seeking out that interaction.
Relationships are More Important Than Receipts
Sometimes we are so focused on what we are getting out of someone or something that we neglect to develop positive rapport with others and end up coming off too pushy or salesy. The best partners we have are those with whom we’ve developed genuine friendships. We want people to know we aren’t just in it for what we can get out of a connection, but we genuinely want to add value for others. Plant the seed of trust and friendship and it will sprout into a tree of networking dividends.
Broaden Your Peer Group
In this coming year, make sure to seek out networking events to create new contacts and continue to nurture the ones you already have. You never know when a casual relationship will be the answer you’ve been looking for to grow your business.
Remember, you don’t need to go to an expensive conference across the country to network. Networking can happen anywhere you interact with other! Strike up a conversation with someone in a coffee shop or join a relevant Facebook group and engage with other members. When you open yourself up to positive interactions with your peers, you will find that they really are all around.
Now it’s time to get out there and build those connections! If you are ever in need of an Amazon consultant or you come across someone who is, you can honestly say, “Well I’ve got just the guy for you. Let me introduce you to TurnKey.” We’re happy to help (and have great affiliate programs so you can make some money just by making the intro). Sign up here to become an affiliate.