Do you run an e-commerce business and you’re looking to expand? Are ineffective business tactics holding you back from growing further? Read on if you’ve answered yes to either or both questions.
To make it to the big leagues of e-commerce, you need an updated game plan.
The global e-commerce market has major opportunities for growth, from its current $3.3 trillion to $5.4 trillion in 2026, some analysts suggest. That said, it’s not easy money for all in the game. Keeping an e-commerce business profitable while scaling it up presents several challenges.
So, if you’re looking to transition into a successful global e-commerce business, here are the top ten tried-and-tested tactics you need to focus on.
1. Explore new sales channels
Even though you may already be using the usual sales channels, it’s always worth keeping an eye open for what else is out there. As consumer preferences continuously evolve, you may find adding sales channels helpful to keep your business profitable.
The following are some of the most promising sales channels you should be leveraging if you aren’t already doing so.
eBay has come a long way from being a place to auction that old stereo or your sports card collection.
Today eBay gives you access to a pool of 185 million active users domestically and worldwide. With its huge number of active users and focus on mobile shopping, it helps you get through to target audiences that you may not be able to reach with traditional sales channels.
Google Merchant Center
Using Google Merchant Center is one of the best SEO strategies for e-commerce. The platform lets you overcome the dominance of big brands and compete with them on a level playing field.
Google helps drive leads and online sales by helping you tap into new markets and stretch the reach of your product lines. Google allows customers the convenience of adding products from multiple retailers to their wish list. They can then buy these items directly, without having to navigate to a retailer’s specific website.
Despite serious supply chain disruptions brought about by COVID, 76% of all sellers on Amazon continue to be profitable.
Selling through Amazon gives you access to their massive customer base, with a fairly low entry barrier. Even if you’re just starting up, don’t worry. As a small business, it’s easy to leverage Amazon’s reputation and take advantage of its delivery network. Amazon is an amazing sales channel you need to consider.
2. Build an email list and keep it updated
Email marketing is a pretty standard way of driving sales and expanding your business. All it takes is a link on your e-commerce site where customers can sign up to receive special deals, notifications, or information relating to products or services they have bought.
Email marketing is an online marketing opportunity to develop and nurture a direct relationship with your audience and should be the primary source of driving traffic to your website. The more you grow your email list, the better your chances of having more conversions and building customer loyalty. Think about making email your primary lead-generation tool.
Consider a few tips on how to be successful with email marketing.
- Use targeted messaging through emails to help you reach customers at different phases of the buying cycle—research stage, comparison stage, or decided-to-buy stage. Personalize your email messaging accordingly.
- Grow your email list by describing what customers stand to gain out of subscribing to it. Ideally, include call-to-action (CTA) buttons on every landing page. Keeping your email list organized and updated is another crucial requirement.
- Categorize your email list based on customer demographics, email update preferences, and purchase history. You can find tools on the internet to help you analyze your data by tracking email activity.
- Reach out to inactive subscribers. Engaging inactive subscribers is often cheaper than spending money trying to improve your conversion rate for new visitors.
- Stay in touch regularly with your customers and offer customized deals, freebies, and information.
Remember, there’s no better or easier way to build customer loyalty than through emails.
3. Create a story-driven product page
Young or old, everybody loves a good story. Stories can be an amazing way to communicate your brand’s personality without having to expressly spell it out. Product storytelling is emotionally engaging for the customer and can result in better sales performance when done right.
For e-commerce businesses, a story woven around a product can effectively communicate its value proposition. More than that, it can help you distinguish your product from competitors and build desirability.
Craft impactful product stories by doing the following:
- Say it visually. Most people notice product images or videos before going on to read its description. Communicate your product story with images and video. Let them know what your product is, how it is different from others, the type of person who uses the product, and what value it will bring to their lives.
- Secondary attributes. Product descriptions are okay, but customers often want to know more than the basic specs. For instance, an eco-conscious buyer would be more interested in knowing how much water a washing machine will save rather than what its dimensions are. Build your story with elements that tell your audience what they really want to know.
- Appeal to values. Use customer research and profiling to present new products in a way that appeals to their value systems. For instance, some customers would be more interested in knowing if the components of a product were ethically sourced rather than whether it is 5% cheaper than the competition.
4. Streamline your inventory management
Inventory management is one element of business operations that you have to be on top of every day if you want to avoid unnecessary hassles and help your business grow.
The ideal inventory management system is one that ensures there’s neither surplus nor shortage of stock. Successful inventory management systems make e-commerce businesses more flexible, efficient, and profitable. Here are a few ways to streamline yours:
- Tracking. You need to track your inventory depending on the type of products you sell. If you’re selling perishables, for instance, ensure a “first-in, first-out” policy so that the oldest products are always shipped out first.
- Drop shipping. Drop shipping is a great way to cut down on labor and costs by not having to maintain large storage units. You can have certain items on your product list shipped by suppliers while you concentrate on more profitable products.
- Categories. Group your inventory in a way that works best for your fulfillment team. The obvious categories are based on item value, frequency of sale, and items that sell the most and least. Ensure all your teams (sales, marketing, fulfillment) are aware of this grouping.
- Auditing. Schedule regular inventory audits to ensure your stocks are in good order and everything tallies up. You can avoid discrepancies (like shipping products with the wrong specifications) if you use a combination of manual audits and inventory management tool audits.
5. Work with influencers to gain visibility
Social media influencers have become an indispensable part of the growth strategy for any ambitious e-commerce platform. From driving brand awareness to increasing website traffic and achieving conversions, influencers are part of a high-return marketing strategy that you simply cannot ignore.
Here are a few pointers on how to use influencers for e-commerce success:
- Product discovery. As content creators, influencers know exactly how to present your products to their audiences. Consumers consider influencers more trustworthy than brands, and you can use them to launch authentic content marketing campaigns through unboxings or reviews.
- Online footfall. Depending on where a customer is on their purchase journey, design your influencer content to speak to them directly so that it influences their purchasing decisions.
- Sales boost. Your e-commerce brand can target specific audience demographics with tailored content. Create sales-generating campaigns by having influencers share promo codes or affiliate links.
6. Focus on a niche
To stand out among the sea of e-commerce businesses, you need to focus on a niche, which is a uniquely differentiated industry segment selling a specific type of product.
Operating in a niche market has several advantages.
- Fewer competitors. Differentiating yourself through sales strategies can reduce the number of competitors.
- Easier to zero in on customers. Instead of trying to reach a mass audience, use your niche products to easily reach that segment of the market that is already searching for the unique item you offer. You can expand your product list once you’ve found the right audience.
- Save on costs. Niche markets allow you to save on advertising and inventory costs. Focusing on a niche will help you optimize warehouse space and also cut storage costs since you have a smaller customer base and fewer products.
7. Run flash sales
Flash sales are limited-period promotions that can ignite huge interest among customers and generate more clicks and increase e-commerce sales. Besides the obvious benefit of getting rid of unwanted products and obsolete stock, flash sales can offer your e-commerce business several advantages. For instance:
- Attract potential customers to your brand and website
- Create a huge impact on social media users
- Increase positive associations with your brand
- Make the user experience more fun and exciting
Success of flash sales depends on several factors, the most important being timing and duration. To get the most out of your sales, make sure they stand out with tactics like mystery promotions, discount coupons, or freebies during the checkout process. Focus on customer retention and measure your performance with sales analysis tools like Google Analytics.
8. Use SEO
Ranking their website at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) is the top priority for any online store owner. While paid rankings may be attractive, they may not be sustainable in the long run. Your motivation should be to reach the top of the search page organically, that is, by users finding your page naturally rather than through ads you’ve purchased. Focusing on SEO (search engine optimization) versus search engine marketing (SEM) metrics can help you get there.
Here are the top components of an SEO strategy to improve visibility for your online business and drive sales:
- Product-focused keywords. Use keyword research tools to prioritize optimized keywords that are not difficult to rank for. Focus on keywords that are relevant to your brand.
- Unique descriptions. Write compelling product descriptions that include a call-to-action (CTA). Highlight unique keywords to avoid content duplication that may impact site rankings.
- Build backlinks. Guest blogging is a surefire way of getting high-quality backlinks to your e-commerce website. Generate traffic by having your platform recommended by authentic and reliable resources.
9. Interact with customers on social media
Social media platforms give your e-commerce business a wonderful way to engage with potential and existing customers on a one-to-one level. However, this must be more than just a presence; you need to have a social media strategy with specific goals.
You can leverage social media to achieve multiple objectives, like:
- Building brand awareness
- Advertising through Instagram or Facebook ads
- Selling directly
- Providing customer service
Use social media to strike up interesting conversations online or to share important information about your products. Leverage this versatile tool to hook new customers who would like to have a relationship with the brand.
Make sure that your e-commerce social media strategy is geared toward fostering privacy and transparency. You have much to gain here as long as you always keep your interactions respectful and customer-centric.
10. Personalize your customer experience
Successful e-commerce businesses create their online shopping experience around customer choices and expectations. Use the following strategies to personalize your customers’ experiences:
- Data. Use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to follow results in real time. Track user purchases, reviews, likes, and shopping cart abandonment data for users. Use that data to build a personalization and retargeting strategy to deliver a unique experience for each visitor.
- Traffic sources. Develop insights into your target customers' intent and interests. By customizing content to buyers from different sources, you can enhance the relevance of your messaging and motivate them throughout the buying process.
- IP address and geolocation. Make relevant product recommendations based on a customer’s location with IP address tracking and geolocation. You can also use this feature to switch to local currencies and come up with area-specific product recommendations.
Get expert help managing your e-commerce store
From digital marketing to fulfillment, sourcing to storage, e-commerce involves a wide range of highly specialized activities, each with its own unique complexity and challenge for business owners.
That need for wide-ranging skills is why you’ll find it worthwhile to engage an e-commerce expert who can guide you through the growth stages of your e-commerce business. Get professional help with planning, conducting, and analyzing market research and creating and executing your business plans.
Beyond just helping you with a website, an e-commerce expert can provide assistance in anticipating risks, lowering business costs, and upselling customers.
Let Upwork help you hire the right freelancer to design, build, and run an e-commerce business that you will be proud of.
Or if you’re a professional looking for work as an e-commerce expert, browse available jobs on Upwork.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.
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