eCommerce

Why eCommerce Partnerships Are Essential For Early-Stage Stores

Partnering with eCommerce experts can seem presumptuous when you’ve only just decided to sell online. Isn’t it better to wait until you’ve sold your first few products before reaching out for help?

If your budget is tight and speed to market is no concern, that approach may well be the best. That’s not the case, however, for established brands that wish to scale or businesses that want to go DTC fast. For them, partnering with eCommerce experts is a no-brainer.

Reaching Customers Directly is More Important Than Ever

There has never been a more appropriate time to start selling your products directly to consumers. Novel coronavirus has made clear the limitations of physical retail-based shopping. While retailers are closing their doors and struggling to survive, eCommerce brands are experiencing bumper sales. 

DTC eCommerce will bring you better returns over time too, writes small business consultant Dragan Sutevski. “By streamlining the sales and distribution process and going directly to consumers, the DTC sales model allows brands to retain revenue that would otherwise be going to supply chain partners such as wholesalers.”

You get more opportunities to sell to consumers as a DTC brand, notes digital marketer Brian Lee, Vice President at Ament Programmatic. Retail-only brands have no chance to cross-sell, upsell or resell. DTC brands can experiment with all of these at little cost. 

Further, going DTC increases the size of your potential customer base. Physical retail limits you to a specific area, writes former Zebpay CEO Ajeet Khurana. Those limits don’t exist when you sell online. Nor does it matter if a pandemic closes your store. 

You don’t need to be a venture-backed startup or household brand to make the jump to DTC. As Visiture’s Ron Dod and Yuri Iskhakov, CEO at Nano, point out, smaller brands can sell DTC just as well as the big boys. They point to brands like Ciner and Glamorise as proof that small stores can thrive online. 

Nor is your physical store a disadvantage. In some ways, it puts you ahead of DTC big hitters. Brands like Casper and Indochino are opening experiential and educational stores across the country, reports business journalist Corinne Ruff. You can have your cake and eat it, too.

eCommerce partnerships

Leverage eCommerce Experts to Get There Faster

Brands who want to transition to DTC more quickly and effectively should seek out eCommerce expertise in three forms.

A Full-Service eCommerce Platform

Even if you have a team of world-class developers at your fingertips, there’s no point hacking together an online store when several great eCommerce solutions are available. These platforms won’t just help you get your brand selling online faster. Because they are created and run by teams of eCommerce experts, they can help you sell better online, too. 

Thomas Smale, Founder of financial services company FE International, writes that eCommerce software is “foundational to the entire operation.” He explains: “Security concerns, scalability, usability, marketing tools and other factors have to be taken into account when you’re looking for the right software to rely on.” 

In this respect, WordPress plug-ins are not enough. They lack the usability, scalability and security to be of any use to established brands. SaaS options can also limit your business because of a lack of scalability.  A full-service solution, designed and delivered to your specific business’s needs, is the way to go. 

It’s important to find a balance between what you need now and what you need in the future, writes Amanda DiSilvestro at SearchEngineWatch. You shouldn’t have to pay for features you don’t need as a brand new store, but you still need to know they are there. 

Take content personalization, for instance. You may not have enough traffic at first to warrant this level of marketing, but it is an essential tool for larger stores, according to Lilach Bullock at SmartInsights. You need a lot of data to deliver it effectively, however. Your platform must be able to collect demographic data and visitor histories, for example. 

Whatever platform you choose, things can go wrong. Even a few minutes of downtime can result in hundreds of lost orders and thousands in lost revenue. When the worst happens, you need to know the issue will be resolved fast.

The problem is that most SaaS solutions only offer support in forums, email and chat, says FatBit Technologies’ Ankush Mahajan. You’re left to do the work yourself. That’s unacceptable, even if you are a developer. It’s also another reason why a full-service platform — one that takes responsibility for your store’s upkeep — is preferable.

On-Hand eCommerce Consultants

A great eCommerce platform isn’t enough, even if it is fully managed. There’s simply too much ground to cover for new entrants, writes DevriX CEO Mario Peshev. Yet many new stores are hesitant to hire a consultant because they think they can copy strategies used by big brands and expect the same results. 

What works for Casper right now probably won’t work for your new store, however. You need strategies designed specifically for your store and your niche. In fact, hiring an eCommerce consultant is “one of the best things most e-commerce owners need to do if they intend to improve the performance of their business,” according to David Fleck at 3DTechInfo. “You need to understand that successfully selling your products online does not happen by putting them for sale on a business website,” he adds. 

You should see a return on the upfront investment quickly. “Consultant advice can often pay for itself almost immediately,” says FreeeUp CMO Connor Gillivan. If cash flow is an issue, hiring consultants for specific tasks is another option. This is perfect when you have a small budget and the expertise to handle some of the eCommerce activities on your own.

eCommerce partnerships

Supporting Business Infrastructure

Your eCommerce operation is more than just an online store. There’s no point giving a manufacturer a digital presence if you aren’t going to help them with the supporting operations, writes Simon Landi, Founder and Managing Director of Access Digital.

There are logistical, tax and regulatory issues specific to eCommerce operations that need to be solved. All of these require expert knowledge and often specific software.

It takes a lot of planning and expertise to optimize fulfillment costs, writes Whitney Blankenship at eCommerce Nation. In the vast majority of cases, this can only be achieved by partnering with a fulfillment service. Such a partnership also gives new stores access to an exclusive network of carriers and a reduction in risk. 

Keeping track of specific eCommerce sales tax laws, creating reports and filing returns is a full-time job that most stores don’t have the capacity for, writes Jennifer Clark at Learning Hub. Combining tax management software with third-party expertise can remove this problem and ensure your store pays the tax it owes and no more. 

If you think there’s a lot of regulation in the U.S., wait until you go abroad. “Dealing with taxes, fees, and tariffs for international trade can be a major obstacle for a lot of companies – especially smaller businesses,” says the team at TradeGecko. While you may be focused domestically right now, the opportunity to sell abroad may come sooner than you think.

Get Online With Scalefast in Just 15 Days

Seeking out all these experts is a lot of work, which is why leading eCommerce brands turn to Scalefast for an all-in-one eCommerce solution. With expertise in each of the areas outlined above and much more, we have your entire eCommerce operation covered. Plus, we are currently offering our services at cost to help businesses get online in just 15 days. Find out more.

Images by: Perry Grone, Kira auf der Heide, Norbert Kundrak