A profitable e-commerce business requires investment. Not only in advertising, but also in organizational and technological improvements that will allow your online store to generate even higher turnover. What investments should you make and at what point? It is worth considering carefully the stages of online store development.
The development of online store – steps
Regardless of whether you already run an online store or are just beginning – the business development strategy is the most important thing that determines success. Therefore, it is worth knowing what stages you have to go through in order to achieve higher and higher profits.
Step 1: dropshipping
Thanks to dropshipping starting to sell online today is a piece of cake. Why? Because you don’t have to build your own warehouse from the very beginning. All you have to do is choose a wholesaler’s product offer, sign a contract and integrate their stock with your store’s website. You get access to products, their descriptions, photos, as well as stock level without having to take care of stocking them yourself and (above all!) without having to organize storage space. In this way you save not only money, but also the time needed for logistics. In the dropshipping model, order picking, shipping, and even returns and complaints will be handled on your behalf by the company with which you signed the agreement. You are only responsible for promoting the selected offer in your marketing channels.
Step 2: your own warehouse
For many online stores it’s the first step of business activity. A step in which they have their own base of products and can offer it to customers. For stores operating so far in the dropshipping model, their own warehouse gives them the opportunity to expand their offer with goods not available from distributors, as well as to take full control over the logistics process. At this stage it is also worth thinking about the best possible optimization of the store website, in accordance with the current trends. You can learn more by reading the following article on our blog: PWA – what is it and what it can do for e-commerce. Building a store with the use of modern technology from the beginning will give you better optimization and speed of its operation than standard solutions, such as ready-made SaaS online stores which are popular among beginners.
Step 3: integration with ERP
Increasing sales results mean not only higher profits, but also more problems with order processing. That is why the next step in store development is integration with ERP system. ERP systems (e.g. Comarch Optima, Subiekt GT, enova365) are complex tools allowing to manage many aspects of the enterprise operations. In online store they are used, among others, to manage warehouse and product database and to issue sales documents. Implementing an ERP system at this stage is crucial for one extremely important reason: it prepares your store for the next stages of growth, which would be much more difficult to accomplish without a properly implemented ERP system.
Step 4: omnichannel
In the previous step we put a strong emphasis on online store integration with ERP systems. All of this to prepare your business for the next important step – omnichannel. If you still don’t know what it means – we explain briefly. Omnichannel is a multichannel sales strategy where you offer products not only through your store, but also through other channels to reach your customers. Such channels include: Allegro, Amazon, eBay, Empik and other operating in Poland marketplaces. The primary advantage of multi-channel selling is opening up your offer to entirely new places where other consumers are. This, in turn, means you can show your offer to more prospective customers while increasing the chance of even more orders. And here come the advantages of early integration with ERP systems:
- you are able to handle orders from all channels in ERP system, without the need to switch between trade panels, which reduces time of ordering process
- all sales channels integrated with your warehouse show your current inventory, greatly reducing the risk of customers buying more products than you have in stock,
- issuing new offers, when you already have all the necessary data in the ERP system, is very simple and does not require tedious completion of long and complicated forms.
Step 5: sales automation
Selling across multiple channels opens up new opportunities for you. But with them come equally tangible risks. Increased customer traffic and order volume can lead to longer processing times for individual shipments. So the next step in developing an online store is to automate the process. Special automation tools are able to do most of the work for you when it comes to issuing invoices and receipts, sending messages to customers, and even ordering supplies from distributors. Well set up automation saves time for both you and your employees allowing you to focus on tasks that have a greater impact on the future growth of your store. You will read more about automation in this entry: What does sales automation bring to e-commerce?
Step 6: international sales
With a prepared and developed store successfully operating in Poland, you are able to conquer new markets. How? We have two ways here. The first one is to use foreign Marketplace services (already mentioned Amazon and eBay). The second is to set up your own store in the domain and language of the country in which you are interested. The technological infrastructure already prepared in accordance with previous advice and a good e-commerce agency that provides constant technical support will help you quickly expand into new markets.
Step 7: the development of online store based on modern technologies
This stage doesn’t really exist. We created it only to show that e-commerce industry does not like stagnation. Every year new, interesting solutions appear in it. Solutions, the use of which in online stores positively influences the popularity of online sales. Will it be placing orders by voice? Or maybe using virtual reality on a larger scale? Or a new, more secure way of making online payments? I don’t know about you, but we are very curious what the future will bring.
Stages of online store development – which stage is your e-commerce business at?
Whether you’ve been running your e-commerce business for many years or you’re just thinking about starting one, a good business development strategy is an extremely valuable document that lays out all the smaller and larger goals which lead to success. We hope the above division will allow you to clearly define which stage you are at and what you should do in the next step in order to maximize the profits of your business.