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Lessons learned from the world’s most successful ecommerce brands

Whether you run a brick-and-mortar business or are thinking of starting a digital-based company, there is much to learn from the success of large ecommerce firms around the world. No matter what the industry, online businesses have shaken up the way people buy and sell, communicate, share and learn in all corners of the globe.

While there is no one single way to guarantee success, ecommerce companies provide a raft of insights into new ways of starting, operating and growing businesses that are built to last.

Here are three:

1. Turn constraints into innovation.

Successful ecommerce companies worldwide know how to turn constraints into innovative ideas. In fact, getting creative in order to solve a problem is often the identifying factor that leads to success, as it opens up whole new markets or completely new ways of doing things.

Companies like BuildDirect thrive because they’ve discovered ways to ship large and heavy items in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Netflix, too, disrupted the entertainment industry by swapping out physical products (DVDs and VHS cassettes) in favor of digital ones.

For entrepreneurs, there are many benefits to addressing constraints creatively. Before you give up, when you’re faced with your next big business obstacle, spend some time instead looking at the problem in different ways to find an innovative solution ripe for the picking.

2. Utilize data

Successful ecommerce businesses also spend plenty of time gathering, tracking and utilizing data to come up with new product ideas or service offerings. For instance, food subscription service NatureBox leverages big data to power its snack-recommendation engine to deliver customers products they will truly enjoy.

Companies that collect customer information more easily identify effective ways to attract new customers, convince more shoppers to buy or entice clients to repurchase. No matter what type of business you run, it’s important to focus on metrics. The common saying “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” is certainly true, and in this digital age is a key element to running a successful business long-term.

There are a number of different indicators to keep a watch on. These include: average daily, monthly and yearly sales, cost per acquisition for each new customer, website and landing-page conversion rates, average order value, customer lifetime value, repeat purchase rate and average number of visits before a purchase is made.

You can use all of this information to operate your business more effectively. For example, if you know your conversion rate is low, you can test out multiple strategies to increase it. Alternatively, if your cost of customer acquisition is prohibitively high, you can focus on lower-priced marketing techniques.

Keep testing and measuring every element in your business over time and you will be able to radically improve your bottom line.

3. Seek feedback.

Another thing popular ecommerce brands do really well is seek feedback from their customers. This is a crucial business practice that all firms should employ, yet many either don’t, or fail to do it well. So, connect with clients on a regular basis to find out what is working well in your business, and where things could be improved. The best time to ask them is immediately after they complete a purchase.

Customers who have already spent money with you are more likely to give their opinion because they are invested in helping your company succeed. In fact, many buyers actually love the idea of having a say in co-creating products or services with brands they admire.

To gather customer feedback, send out email questionnaires, conduct quick surveys on your website, host polls on social media, call customers, send letters and so on. Questions might include:

  • What is one specific thing we could be doing better?
  • Was there anything in particular — positive or negative — that stood out from your experience shopping with us?
  • What was it that ultimately made you decide to buy from us?
  • What is the number one thing we should never stop doing?
  • Would you recommend us to your friends and family members? If so, why? If not, why not?

No matter what type of business or industry you are in, there are plenty of strategies you can emulate from ecommerce concerns in order to improve your own company’s operations and offerings.

If you get stuck for ideas at any stage, seek inspiration from some of the biggest ecommerce brands around.