Managing an e-commerce business can be a complicated juggling act. You can make things easier on yourself and reduce costs by using software and third-party vendors to automate and track orders, inventory, fulfillment, warehouses, and ad campaigns. This helps make your business more efficient and your decision-making more effective as you plan for the future.
Many people start an online business by doing everything manually, from tracking inventory to corresponding with customers. But, as the business grows, it gets harder to keep up: You lose time trying to locate inventory, you have trouble fulfilling orders, you don't know whether your ad campaigns are working, you run into legal issues, and you're exhausted by it all.
Here are five ways to save time and money in your e-commerce business.
1. Track your website analytics.
A great website is just the beginning of a successful e-commerce business. It's also important to have a marketing plan, implement it, and track your results. And that's where analytics come in. By studying the analytics for your website and social media accounts, you can learn where your customers are coming from and track the success of online advertising campaigns.
If you don't watch your analytics, you may end up spending money on marketing channels that aren't bringing in sales. You could continue running ads that don't resonate with your customers. And you are likely to waste both time and money.
2. Use an order management system.
What is order management? It is a holistic way of approaching the supply chain. An order management system—also known as an inventory management system—helps keep everything running smoothly by accepting payments, finding the warehouses closest to the customer, routing the orders to warehouses for fulfillment, and providing tracking information to both customers and customer service personnel.
An order management system helps a company implement better inventory management practices by providing alerts about stock levels. It also can be integrated with accounting functions like invoicing, accounts receivable, and accounts payable.
If you are currently using spreadsheets or older software to manage orders and inventory, you may have trouble managing the complexities of modern-day e-commerce And, when your order and inventory management isn't up to speed, you can end up with unhappy customers.
3. Consider outsourcing your fulfillment process.
A startup e-commerce business may do order fulfillment in-house, using employees to pick, pack, and ship goods to customers. But, as the business grows and the volume of orders increases, in-house fulfillment can become an expensive and inefficient way to do things.
One solution is to transfer the fulfillment process to a third-party vendor. What is the fulfillment management process? It means receiving, processing, packaging, shipping, and delivering orders to customers. Because fulfillment process vendors serve multiple customers, they operate more efficiently and at a lower cost than in-house fulfillment systems. And they can relieve you from a time-consuming and complex task.
4. Use a warehouse management system.
What is warehouse management? A warehouse management system allows a company to control the operations of a warehouse from the time goods enter it to the time they leave. Warehouse management is especially important for e-commerce businesses that operate with multiple warehouses.
This is how warehouse management can reduce costs: It can decrease the amount of labor needed to locate and track items, provide a more accurate snapshot of inventory, reduce picking and shipping mistakes, and improve flexibility and responsiveness. Many warehouse management systems also include labor management and loading dock management.
5. Set up shipping integration.
If your company is shipping items through individual carriers like UPS and the U.S. Postal Service, you are overdue for shipping integration. Shipping integration platforms connect you to multiple carriers through a single dashboard.
Shipping integration automates the shipping process, finding shipping rates and creating labels, packing slips, and forms. Some shipping platforms integrate seamlessly with e-commerce platforms, making it easy to get your orders out.
An e-commerce business can get complicated quickly and, if you want to succeed, it's important to stay on top of orders, inventory, and marketing. Using the right software and third-party services can help you handle these functions seamlessly and efficiently.