Ecommerce is a business model that takes advantage of the internet to buy and sell goods and services using a number of technology platforms. There are a variety of e commerce examples - the B2C online marketplace where multiple third parties sell goods (Amazon), peer-to-peer stores like Etsy, and B2B wholesale markets like Alibaba. There are even consumer to business (C2B) types of e commerce where individuals sell freelance services to businesses. These include freelance graphic designers and website content writing services. In 2019 DTC or direct-to-consumer ecommerce businesses dominated headlines with sales figures and high-profile investments.
The answer to what is e commerce business has a foundation that is built on e commerce technology. To survive and grow in ecommerce, a company needs the electronic resources to perform the following:
- Build an online store to present services or products
- Register customer information and take online payments
- Provide an order management system or shopping cart
- Manage the inventory and infrastructure to fulfill and ship orders
All of these functions of e commerce stores are essential to a successful business and are what sets these stores apart from brick-and-mortar locations. But many of the backroom operations are similar to a typical business model such as attracting customers using a sales and marketing strategy. As a matter of fact, many successful online stores transitioned from a physical location to the internet. Here they are able to cut overhead costs, reduce staff, and best of all - target a global market with unlimited sales potential.
Continue reading to discover operating frameworks and business strategies for successful online stores and service providers.
Understanding the Omnichannel Retail Strategy
Many businesses are taking advantage of omnichannel retail strategies that give the customer a seamless shopping experience using multiple channels - landline telephone, mobile device, desktop websites, and often these stores may tie-in with their brick-and-mortar or flagship stores. Omnichannel retail will use any combination of these resources to promote their brand, engage the customer, and distribute their products or services.
Another feature of an omnichannel retail strategy is the multiple ways the customer can interact when they have a problem or concern. These types of retail providers will have service representatives or customer care agents ready to respond by email, phone, social media, or web chatbots. A successful omnichannel business will efficiently weave together multiple channels of back end information, such as customer data, vendor information, and inventory or logistics.
The best omnichannel retailers have mastered the art of providing the customer with an enhanced shopping experience. Take for example Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service. They use smart technology to personally interact with the customer, algorithms to select clothes best suited for their personality, and they provide fast and free shipments of clothing both ways.
Recreational Equipment, Inc., also known as REI, is an American retail and outdoor recreation service provider that understood most of their customers went online first to check out their goods on a mobile phone. So they equipped their in-store sales associates with mobile devices - merging the online and in-store experience.
Ecommerce and brick-and-mortar beauty products supplier Sephora helps customers navigate their 300 personal care and beauty brands with in-store, complimentary make-overs and beauty workshops while also providing in-store touchscreens for customers to scan items in-store, watch tutorials online, and track their shopping and rewards points.
Ecommerce Operations Strategy
A successful operations strategy for an ecommerce business must account for a robust IT infrastructure that can handle the e commerce operation process of taking and fulfilling online orders, has established efficient domestic and global shipping, along with sufficient inventory to keep customers happy and to fuel new business.
It all starts with e commerce operations management built on a number of fundamental strengths including store presentation, order-taking, inventory management, and order fulfillment.
What is e commerce strategy?
- eCommerce operations must be run like any other retail store, and not as a hobby or side business.
- The business owner must find the right ecommerce platform that is secure, scalable, and has integrated marketing tools.
- As with any business, online stores must develop their brand and research their target demographic so they can successfully market their business to their core customers - which leads to more conversions.
- A key operations strategy process is to leverage the power of social media allowing your customers to be brand ambassadors with testimonials and review.
For example, consider the operation strategy of Amazon. The company is laser-focused on customer service and supply chain management. The way Amazon's website takes orders smoothly and gets them shipped quickly is an excellent operation strategy example.
The importance of operations strategy and its main benefit is to remove any friction between customers and stores. And the more you improve your ecommerce operations, you will find it easier to focus on supplying those products that sell faster and bring greater profit.
Ecommerce Strategy Frameworks and Examples
An ecommerce strategy framework is used to guide and plan for the customers you will be attracting to your ecommerce site. There are a number of types of e business strategies that can show you how to dominate e commerce. Partner with an ecommerce platform service provider that can produce successful e commerce strategies to build brand loyalty through unique and memorable shipment tracking and marketing.
You can improve the success of your ecommerce store when you build ecommerce strategy frameworks that includes useful content, powerful images, value-added products, social media engagement, video marketing, personalized messaging, and outbound product promotions.
Great examples of ecommerce sites with a strong operations strategy framework are those that continue to acquire new customers, engage those customers interests, and retains those same customers for repeat sales using a framework that may include the following:
- Product promotions to current customers
- Subscription-based frameworks
- Offer free shipping or other delivery options
- Create urgency sales (limited time or limited stock sales)
- Highlight reviews or customer ratings on the ecommerce site and in email marketing messages
- Offer exclusive items to exclusive customers to build loyalty
- Use visual styling and professional photography for social media branding
- Create an offline and/or in-store experience for online customers
- Optimize your product descriptions and website SEO
Each of these strategies can be used to build an ecommerce framework that drives customers to your site and encourages them through to the end of the sales funnel.
Ecommerce Roles and Responsibilities
When listing your company's eCommerce operations jobs, your first hire may be the head of ecommerce operations. Create an ecommerce job description template that lists all the duties required to develop a strategy for your online store's order fulfillment, shipping, and inventory management needs. The ideal candidate should be experienced in the following:
- Retail operations and shipping logistics experience
- Able to analyze and interpret sales and customer data
- Proactive attitude that is sales-driven and results-oriented
- Excellent organizational and communication skills
An e commerce manager job responsibilities include developing a strategy for the customers’ online and offline experiences. When you review an ecommerce operations manager resume look for someone who has shown proven performance to reach target sales metrics with a focus on attracting and converting customers. They should also have a business education that includes financial procedures, inventory management, and merchandising best practices.
Depending on the size of an ecommerce business, they will likely write and distribute job descriptions for multiple ecommerce roles and responsibilities by creating an ecommerce manager job description pdf, developing an ecommerce operations specialist job description or ecommerce warehouse manager job description. This person may also be able to craft an ecommerce operations job description that better details their day to day activities and goals.
As an example of how much it might cost to hire someone for these types of jobs, a Walmart ecommerce operations manager salary ranges from $73,000 to $125,000 per year. For a small-to-medium sized business (SMBs), you can expect to pay less than this for an ecommerce operations manager salary. When your operations are not as large as a Walmart's online store, you may consider not hiring an operations manager, but instead opt to pay an ecommerce operations coordinator salary which can start around $15 per hour.
Ecommerce Operations Conferences
The eCommerce business community is very active, offering a number of ecommerce operations summit and operations conferences 2020. These conferences include industry-leading speakers, ecommere strategy sessions, networking, and entertainment. The North American eTail Operations Summit 2019 will be held again in 2020 in Dallas, Texas.
This is a must-attend event for networking and learning all about omnichannel success, mobile strategies, overcoming fulfillment challenges, and how to leverage new technologies. Attending ecommerce conferences are a great way to discover tactics to meet and exceed your customers’ growing expectations for seamless service at every touch point.
Here are more ecommerce operations conference offerings worth looking into to learn more about ecommerce operations:
- IRCE, or the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition is held in June in Chicago, Illinois
- eTail West - Palm Springs California in February
- CommerceNext is held in New York City every summer
- eCommerceFuel LIve in San Antonio, Texas in January 2020
- ShopTalk in Las Vegas, NV in March 2020
You will also find platforms like Shopify offering learning seminars, like this Hands-on Class Building Your Shopify E-commerce Store held in Atlanta, Ga. in January. Today, many universities and colleges are offering continuing education classes to business degree holders that want to learn more about starting an e commerce business.
Here is a list of quality, online service providers that offer a wide range of ecommerce modules to get you started in managing and operating an ecommerce store:
Ecommerce Courses Online
- Khan Academy
- HubSpot Academy
- WordStream PPC University
- The Online Marketing Institute
Visit us at Malomo to learn more about how you can engage your online customers with multiple branding and product promotion strategies.