Regardless if you run a small online business or a full-fledged enterprise, ecommerce management remains complex. Online retailers have to organize and oversee all sorts of moving pieces to stay on the path towards profitability (and customer retention).
Luckily, there’s software that can help you overcome the challenges of ecommerce management so you reach your growth targets with ease.
What is ecommerce management?
Ecommerce management is the practice of maintaining an online business. Generally speaking, the goal of ecommerce management is to help brands reach their goals for product quality, customer acquisition, and customer retention.
An ecommerce manager helps select products and create pricing strategies and sees to it that products reach the customer as quickly (and as cost-effective) as possible.
Once these products are selected, the ecommerce manager (or operations team) makes sure inventory levels and inventory records are in alignment. From there, the manager or ops team joins forces with the marketing team to develop a digital strategy for customer acquisition, search engine optimization (SEO), and affiliate programs.
On top of that, the ecommerce manager also has a hand in customer retention. More specifically, they oversee a seamless user experience and buyer journey—and make recommendations on improving website performance so customers come back again and again.
Why is ecommerce management important?
Ecommerce management is a critical part of running an online storefront. Effective ecommerce management helps your business avoid common inventory challenges (like overstocking and overselling), and ensures you uphold the standards for product quality.
In addition, ecommerce management helps you adapt to fluctuations in demand in real-time so your customers stay happy (and your revenue stays high). Plus, the most successful online brands have leveraged ecommerce management to grow their audience and stay competitive in such a crowded retail environment.
In short, ecommerce management helps brands of all sizes make sense of their operations and run the most profitable business possible.
Common ecommerce management challenges
Even though ecommerce management is foundational to your online store, it’s not without its share of challenges. Below are some of the most common pain points related to ecommerce management today.
Supply chain challenges
Ecommerce businesses have had to deal with incredible supply chain volatility the last few years—from massive stock shortages, to fulfillment delays, to lengthy backorders on popular SKUs. For the most part, these challenges are a result of increased consumer spending, the convenience of online shopping, and catching up from bottlenecks (caused by the pandemic).
Looking ahead, some of the biggest issues on the horizon are things like material scarcity, freight prices, port congestion—and of course, inflation. But in spite of such a fragile supply chain network, ecommerce brands can still address these inefficiencies head on.
For example, ecommerce sellers can overcome these challenges by maintaining flexible access to capital and diversifying sourcing in their supply chain strategy. Along with that, online stores who work with a freight forwarder or who partner with alternative shipping ports can keep their supply chain flowing smoothly. In other words, the best chance for your store’s survival is to get lean, sell through your inventory, and focus on your working capital.
Implementing an effective ecommerce marketing strategy
An effective ecommerce marketing strategy doesn’t happen by chance—it requires a thoughtful business plan and intentional follow through. Even still, it can be difficult to create a marketing campaign that speaks to your audience and convinces them to add items to the checkout.
After all, it’s not enough to drive traffic to your ecommerce website. You also have to convert browsers into buyers (and ideally, turn this conversion into retention).
While building an ecommerce marketing strategy can get tricky, it helps to conduct short-tail keyword research for your website, social media, and online marketing campaigns. Using this research, you can optimize your content for relevant search terms so customers have a better chance of finding your brand (and the products they want).
The more you get customers’ attention via meaningful digital marketing, the more likely you are to create loyal shoppers and consistent revenue for your brand.
Ensuring proper inventory management
Another challenge with ecommerce management is ensuring proper inventory management. The reality is, it can be tough to keep track of which products are selling well versus which aren’t. But without this product tracking, your business is at risk of under- or overstocking—both of which will cost you money (and in the case of understocking, frustrate your customers).
Worse yet, if your products are out of stock, there’s a chance customers will move on and buy a similar item from a competitor instead of waiting for you to be back in stock. Not only does this lost sale impact your revenue, but you might also lose that customer for good.
One of the best ways to overcome these inventory management obstacles is by investing in the right ecommerce tools. With proficient inventory management software, you can keep track of your inventory levels, sales data, and more. And by increasing your inventory control, you can also prevent understocking/overselling and provide an exceptional customer experience.
Offering reliable order management
As your ecommerce store continues to grow, you might be inundated with more orders than you’re prepared to fulfill on your own. That is to say, as your online store scales, you might exceed your bandwidth for picking, packing, and shipping customer orders. In this case, you’re likely to run into a lot more errors (and delays) within the order management process.
Even as your brand expands or adds new selling channels, you need to keep up with order management at every turn. However, not everything has to fall to you as the business owner—you can actually improve order management while lightening your workload.
When you incorporate order management software into your ecommerce strategy, it’s a whole lot easier to track orders and complete all the processes around fulfillment. Better yet, you can team up with a 3rd-party fulfillment company for increased efficiency.
By outsourcing order fulfillment to a 3rd-party provider, you can offload everything from storing inventory to packing boxes to shipping orders. This way, you can focus more on your ecommerce growth rather than getting weighed down by order management details.
5 ways to ensure ecommerce management success
Now that you know the challenges associated with ecommerce management, you might be curious how to ensure success in this area. Fortunately, there are several routes you can take to make sure your ecommerce management is the best it can be.
1. Hire an ecommerce manager
If at all financially feasible, ecommerce companies should consider hiring an ecommerce manager. An ecomm manager is an important position with a wide range of responsibilities—but the advantage for your business is that this person oversees the entire online presence of your ecommerce site. Meaning, they manage your marketing campaigns and order fulfillment as well as directing the activities of web developers, copywriters, and other specialists on your team.
With that said, if you’re an entrepreneur or running a small business, it might not be in your budget to hire for this role. In that case, you don’t need to be tied to this specific job title. Instead, you can focus on the principles of ecommerce management—products, acquisition, and retention—and then ramp up your operations team to tackle these areas.
Alternatively, you can look into agencies, chatbots, and remote freelancers instead of hiring an in-house manager right away. This approach saves you time, while allowing you to assess whether the ecommerce manager really needs to be in-person/full-time.
2. Implement tight feedback loops
Customer feedback loops are a strategy for constantly improving your products. These loops are based on the natural (and mutual) interactions that happen between a company and its customer base. The great thing about integrating feedback loops into your ecommerce management is that it helps you connect with customers on a deeper level—which is often a challenge for online retailers who don’t engage with customers in-person.
Some great ways to collect feedback from your customers is by using surveys, emails, and reviews. These tools give you a pulse on who your customers really are, and shine a light on their buying habits, product preferences, and more. While each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, you might find that one is a better fit for your business than the others.
In addition, you can also use machine learning to collect large amounts of data and customer insights—leading to a more personalized shopping experience. Machine learning leverages algorithms that remember product choices and preferences so you can advertise accordingly.
Even if you don’t have tons of data for machines to ‘learn’ from, there’s new ecommerce solutions coming to market all the time that are geared towards startups and small businesses.
3. Use technology to make data-driven decisions
While a lot of online businesses start out using spreadsheets to track and manage their inventory, these spreadsheets tend to be time-consuming, error-prone, and inflexible. Not to mention, this fragmented, inaccurate spreadsheet data limits both your profits and your ability to scale to an omnichannel business.
The good news is, there’s a much better option for managing your ecommerce operations. Not only do inventory management systems (like Extensiv’s Order Manager) track your online sales, inventory levels, and deliveries, they also help you avoid the pitfalls of understocking, overstocking, and overselling. Extensive Order Manager centralizes your ecommerce inventory management, so you can get a full picture of your stock levels and sales data across all selling channels and marketplaces.
But the best part? The Order Manager platform helps you make data-driven decisions related to demand forecasting, reorder points, and optimal inventory levels. Using Order Manager, you can compare current data and previous sales trends to forecast spikes/declines in demand—and provide product listings that are tailored to customer preferences.
4. Optimize inventory and fulfillment workflows
Another advantage to inventory management software is that it naturally optimizes your inventory workflows. The best ecommerce platforms, like Order Manager, have automations to help with stock requests, purchase order approval, and streamlined replenishment. So if you’re using these systems within your ecommerce management, you’ll be set up to maintain a continuous flow of inventory in and out of your warehouses.
Speaking of warehouses, don’t forget that you can outsource fulfillment to a 3rd-party provider. Teaming up with a 3PL means you no longer have to pack boxes, print shipping labels, negotiate with shipping carriers (and the list goes on). Completing these tasks on a daily basis is too much for most ecommerce sellers, which is why so many businesses optimize their order fulfillment workflows with the help of a 3rd-party partner.
5. Reevaluate goals often
Goal setting is a huge part of ecommerce management. How can you know whether you’re successful if you don’t have goals in place to gauge where you’re winning and where there’s still room for improvement? Once you’ve developed specific goals and/or revenue targets, you can use ecommerce metrics—like sales conversion rate and average order value—to see if you’re hitting your numbers or falling short in certain product categories.
The point is to continually redefine and reevaluate these goals as your company grows and acquires new customers. Paying attention to your sales and ecommerce metrics helps you determine if you’re on the right track with your marketing, fulfillment, and so on. But more than that, these metrics are a great indicator of the products you should keep or cut from your catalog (so you always generate the greatest possible revenue).
Supercharge your ecommerce management with Extensiv
Looking to level up your ecommerce management and improve operations across the board? Extensiv can help! Extensiv’s Order Manager gives retailers unmatched visibility and control for all sales channels—and helps you deliver the flawless fulfillment modern consumers expect.
Streamline sales channels
One of the highlights of Extensiv’s Order Manager is its ability to seamlessly integrate all your selling channels into one centralized platform. In fact, Order Manager offers comprehensive integrations with major channels and marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and Shopify to give your greater visibility into your inventory and increased control over your order management.
Even better, you can tap into new sales channels using application programming interface (API) integrations that are specially designed to handle higher order volumes (at a faster speed). And if any issues crop up as you move into multichannel territory, Order Manager will be right there to allocate your inventory and help minimize stockouts/overselling as you propel your business to new heights.
Automate order management
Order Manager is equipped with all the intelligence you need to automate routine tasks and identify when intervention is needed. Thanks to Order Manager’s end-to-end validation, you can take advantage of innovative automation that puts all your orders in order. This system ensures you always have the products your customers want—and it automates the processes you need to move orders from your sales channels to the end customer.
More accurately, Order Manager’s advanced routing and processing tools help you route orders to the optimal warehouse by configuring logic-based rules that account for inventory availability and geographic locations. What’s more, additional actions can be automated via orderbots to split orders based on available inventory or determine ideal shipping methods. The result? Improved efficiency, higher customer satisfaction, and up to a 67% reduction in order lead times.
Improve customer satisfaction
The reality of retail is that customer expectations have never been higher. Like it or not, modern consumers expect a lot from their favorite brands—like unlimited product availability and the shortest possible delivery windows. Thankfully, Order Manager can help you meet (and even exceed) customer expectations by handling 99% of purchasing and fulfillment decisions on your behalf. And if that wasn’t enough, Order Manager will even alert you when intervention is needed, so your customer support team can step in/help out to the best of their ability.
Request a free demo from Extensiv to supercharge your ecommerce management in no time at all.