5 Limits to Small Business eCommerce Growth and How to Recognize Them

5 Limits to Small Business eCommerce Growth and How to Recognize Them
May 3, 2019 Brian Young
Welcome sign on storefront

Running your small business is a complicated and demanding task. Operating and managing your eCommerce site at the same time compounds the issues that prevent you from doing the things you do best, creating and selling merchandise that delights your customers. As eCommerce begins to take the lead in generating new revenue for businesses of all sizes, small businesses in particular face challenges in cultivating that growth. It’s a harsh reality that decisions that were made when resources were scarce may become obstacles to generating the growth you need to compete and succeed into the future. Typically, these “growing pains” can be broken down into two main categories: 1) “I invested in tools and systems that I could afford and manage, but now they’re inadequate”, and/or 2) “I can see that I have to become more sophisticated about eCommerce practices, but I don’t know exactly what to do”. Let’s take a look at some of the questions you may ask to determine if it’s time to consider changes. If these issues describe your current position it may be time to seek answers and find help.

“Do my tools do what I expected, will they get me to where I want to go?”

You may have started out with one of the popular low-cost SaaS platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce, or an easy-to-implement open-source system like WooCommerce, and they were adequate for launching your site and supporting early growth. But now you’re experiencing limitations of flexibility, merchandising capabilities, and operational efficiency:

  • Does the system support unlimited capacity to expand and add merchandise that may support the growth of your business into new markets or demographics?
  • Are you able to provide an easy-to-use site experience with a low-friction checkout process?
  • Does your site load fast or do you experience slow loads leading to dropped baskets and bounces?
  • Are you seeing sluggish mobile conversions while more traffic originates in that channel?
  • Do your systems exchange product and sales data automatically or are you stuck in spreadsheets and manual processes taking time away from merchandising and selling?

“Am I getting the consultative support I need?”

You’ve learned a lot about eCommerce through trial and error and meticulous research, your “baptism by fire”. But you’ve got a business to run and being a full time eCommerce guru is not an option:

  • Is your staff well-versed in product, merchandising and customer support, but not expert-level in technical SEO, systems integration, theme development, A/B testing, marketplace strategy, platform extensibility with 3rd party providers, and the myriad of topics and issues that contribute to the long-term success of your site? If not, how do you supplement your staff to overcome limitations?
  • If you know the obstacles and issues that lay before you, do you have a proficient roadmap on how to proceed, and in the right order? Do you have the resources to execute efficiently and with the desired result?

“What happens if the unexpected happens?”

It can feel like eCommerce is one big minefield that has to be swept every day and constant vigilance is hard to sustain when you’re busy running a business:

  • Who has your back to help you sleep soundly knowing that your site is constantly monitored not only for uptime but for data breaches, denial of service attacks, and other system failures that you can’t anticipate?
  • Are you prepared for patent trolls, GDPR regulations, PCI compliance issues, and the Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines and laws?
  • Are you at risk over the new state eCommerce tax laws? How do you get started?

“How do I afford everything I need to do”?

Resources are scarce. Growth is terrific but it has to balanced against investment which needs to be justified over time.

  • What will be your total cost over 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? Will the ratio of cost to revenue diminish over that period of time?
  • Does your provider offer all of the services and products (redesigns, integrations, reviews, SEO roadmaps, hosting, etc.) you need under one roof in a cost-effective way, or do you have to juggle multiple vendors and systems that eat up resources?
  • Does your provider help you find efficiencies in your operations such as reducing shipping and fulfillment costs, marketplace integrations, etc.?

“How do I stay current”?

eCommerce is a constantly changing universe. Not only tools but strategies, providers, channels, and more are continually evolving. Navigating that shifting universe is a never-ending challenge:

  • Do you have a coherent marketplace strategy? Do you regard Amazon, Wal-Mart, eBay, Jet, and others as threats or opportunities? How do you engage them and use them to your benefit?
  • Is international selling an option for your business? How will you implement it on your site while avoiding the pitfalls that lurk?
  • What features and 3rd party providers are the right fit for your business and customer demographic? How will you navigate the vast sea of providers and will my current tools be capable of utilizing them?

There’s never been a better time to grow your eCommerce business with the tools and strategies available today. The challenge is to break through that invisible wall beyond which exponential growth is possible. You are probably ready to explore your alternatives if you’re asking yourself these questions. You deserve to find the answers from a source with a proven track record of eCommerce expertise and results.

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