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Three-step guide for small business success

(Source: Bigstock.)

There are more shoppers heading online than ever before, thanks to the boom in digital over the last few years. But the flip side of this is that the level of competition has never been higher.

Whether you’re new to e-commerce or an established brand, as an SMB, how can you make sure that you’re staying ahead at every step of the way?

In a new three-part series, Three-Step Guide for Small Business Success, industry experts share their tips to help you optimise every stage of the purchase journey, while also saving time and money.

  1. Partner with a website platform that can grow with you

In this digital world, the key to any business’s success is its website, which is the most essential element of any marketing plan.

It is critical when looking for a website platform a business understands their own business requirements and can partner with a platform that can not only provide them with an online presence but also has the ability to help a business scale and grow both locally and globally.

This means understanding if the platform has strong tools to support digital marketing, SEO, business management, payments, shipping (if required), customer management and managing customer lifetime value.

“A platform should also be flexible to meet your design and functionality requirements and be able to adapt as the business grows both from a design and functionality perspective,” explains Nathan Archie, General Manager Australia & New Zealand, at Wix.

Many SMBs are focused on core functionality and ‘the basics’ without realising that decisions you make now impact your success down the track.

“It is important to have a well-designed website that is quick (load speed) and easy for a customer to navigate (able to buy quickly). Retailers need to spend time on the user journey and build their website based on their customer journey and customer needs rather than what they think looks great,” says Archie.

“A website that has the ability to scale with your business is extremely important as it means you don’t have to spend more money to re-platform if you outgrow your current solution.”

Learn more: Three Step Guide for Small Business Success Part 1.

  1. Invest in automation now to save time and money 

Many businesses think automation isn’t for them, especially small businesses or those in the early days of trade. But, according to David Boyer, country manager of ShipStation ANZ, almost any shipping-related task can be automated.

“Retailers often resist automation because they want the security of human verification. The irony is that manually checking each order for weight and shipping destination (apart from being tedious and time-consuming) is more likely to lead to errors,” explains Boyer.

“Automation helps reduce human error, so customers get the correct products on time, every time.”

ShipStation’s shipping automation rules are one way to optimise workflows. Shipping automation rules are dispatching tasks that you want to apply to a set of orders that meet certain criteria.

Those rules run when the orders import and automate numerous actions that you would otherwise do manually.

They work on an ‘if this, then that’ statement and run as the final step of your automation workflow. They allow the highest degree of customisation and let you automate complex shipping requirements.

Additionally, the time saved when you automate means that you can decrease staffing costs and spend that money and those resources elsewhere.  

“When it comes to shipping, retailers should think about automation from the start. This way they’ll be best set up to scale their business, from a fulfilment point of view, they can fulfil more orders in less time,” says Boyer.

“Your automation strategy can grow and develop with the needs of the business as well.”

Learn more: Three Step Guide for Small Business Success Part 2.

  1. Think outside the (delivery) box with sustainable practices 

According to Dennis Oates, Chief Logistics Officer at Sendle, it’s a common misconception that the customer experience ends at check out. However, returns are a crucial part of the customer experience and need to be built into your process. 

“You can have the exact product a customer wants at a price point they’re thrilled with and close the deal with an easy, convenient transaction. The customer won’t remember any of that if there’s a problem with fulfilment or shipping,” explains Oates.

“This is why it’s important to set up clear expectations with shipping and returns policies, live up to the turnaround times you agree to in them, and ship in a timely manner.”

Oates also advises packing items in the right-size packaging to keep goods being shipped safely from damage, while not incurring extra shipping charges.

Additionally, it’s more important than ever to use sustainable packaging options such as biodegradable and compostable satchels as consumers become increasingly eco-conscious about the brands they shop with.

According to a recent small business survey conducted by Sendle, Australia’s first 100 per cent carbon neutral, door-to-door shipping service, 86 per cent of respondents said carbon-neutral shipping is important to them.

“The shipping and logistics industry as a whole account for 17 per cent of global carbon emissions each year. By committing to sustainable business practices and carbon neutral shipping, businesses have an opportunity to position themselves as the responsible option for customers who have many choices when spending their money. Luckily for SMBs, most of the hard work is already done, they just need to shop wisely and do their research when selecting partners,” Oates says.

Learn more: Three-Step Guide for Small Business Success Part 3.