6 Steps to Jumpstarting Your E-Commerce Platform

Tips for E-Commerce Businesses

When it comes to online business, the simple truth is that what ultimately separates top-performing e-commerce companies from everyone else is growth — rapid growth. Online businesses are created every day, but those that have the most success grow fast and reach an exit velocity that hurls them into an echelon most businesses simply never reach.

Whether you're just starting an online business or you’re an existing brick-and-mortar that’s migrating your business online, if you’re the kind of entrepreneur who wants to light the world on fire, you need a plan. Here are the six steps you must take to create an online strategy that drives sales and fuels rapid growth.

1. Find product/market fit
2. Hit the ground running
3. Get people hooked on your store
4. Encourage repeat purchases
5. Increase your order values
6. Focus on and reward top customers

1. Find product/market fit

In an RJMetrics study of over 200 e-commerce businesses, they analyzed the three-year sales trends of businesses doing between $1 million and $60 million in revenue. Their fundamental finding was that top-performing companies were making roughly 2.5x more than other companies that started sales around the same time. A common theme to this success was answering a consumer need in a different way. It could be your product was truly new or just branded/marketed in a refreshing tone, but significance of “natural product/market fit” and execution cannot be overlooked when you’re aiming for a rapid rate of growth early on in a company lifecycle.

2. Hit the ground running

For those who want to take off after going live, there is no “soft launch.” You need to have your plan worked out months beforehand. This includes creating your marketing materials, choosing your vendors, developing and testing your site, creating social tone and plan, and connecting a launch moment to immediately stoke the flames — among many other things. The most successful businesses feel like they’ve been doing it for years on their first day.

3. Get people hooked on your store

Successful e-commerce brands always focus on the customer experience. Before even entering the space, business owners must be ready to create, engage, entertain, inform and truly serve your customers. Then at launch you put it all out there and actually provide something that makes your business worth caring about. As Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of Vayner Media, says, “You must be willing to provide a disproportionate amount of value up front with zero expectation of return.”

Citing the same RJMetrics study, top-performing companies acquire new customers at 2x the rate as other e-commerce companies. This isn’t an accident. Top-performing companies plan and test their customer acquisition strategies well ahead of their launch — often securing strategic partnerships, press contacts and early buzz months in advance of the initial release.

4. Encourage repeat purchases

Likewise, top-performing companies aren’t just acquiring buyers once and hoping they turn into customers on their own. Instead, there is a plan in place early on to get a person buying again and again and getting them hooked on buying from you. By the time these companies reach the three-year mark, repeat customers actually end up accounting for more revenue than new customers. Moreover, marketing to existing customers can be more profitable and come at a fraction of the cost. In contrast, what the “average” companies don’t realize is how much of a missed opportunity that is. For instance, a Harvard Business School study found that increasing customer retention by as little as 5% can increase profits between 25% and 95%.

5. Increase your order values

What’s even better is that other research by RJMetrics found that top customers spend up to 30x more than the average customer over their customer lifespan. It’s reasonable to assume that most, if not all, of these top-performing companies are focusing on their best customers and developing their business around acquiring customers just like those who are spending more and more frequently.

6. Focus on and reward top customers

It was also found that the average customer for a top-performing company makes around seven purchases in a quarter, whereas the customers for the other companies are doing less than half of that. Given these two facts, it should come as no surprise that the customer lifetime value of top-performing companies was also 5x higher than each of the other groups. Whether it’s through a continual stream of great new products, discounts and presale opportunities and clever marketing that treats these customers like insiders, these people feel rewarded for their brand interactions and it makes them want to keep coming back.