Setting Up Your Online Store For Growth
You may have heard of the saying (attributed to Colin Powell), “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” Powell’s advice also applies to growth for your Shopify store. There are no secrets to growth, only a recipe. In this article, we’re sharing our recipe for setting up your online store for growth.
Prepare and plan
Growth can be devastating if you aren’t prepared. Preparation and planning include making sure that your systems, processes and manpower are able to accommodate the strain of having more customers.
Some experienced business owners might scoff at this mindset. Many people believe that if you expect the worst, you’ll be more prepared when something inevitably goes wrong. While you should indeed prepare as much as you can, continually expecting the worst is going to make it harder to achieve growth. Optimism, on the other hand, gives you the confidence to grow your store.
It’s never too late or too early to adjust and plan for your growth. So even if you’ve been running your store from a place of fear so far, you can turn your mindset around today--and start running it from a place of optimism.
Base your plans on trends
The biggest advantage of being an online store is the wealth of data at your fingertips. Yet, too many online store owners don’t take full advantage of their customer data. The future might be uncertain, but so much of it can be predicted using data. Base your plans and preparation on data (provided by Shopify analytics or Google analytics).
According to Forbes, one of the secret facts that make online businesses successful is outsourcing. There are multiple benefits in outsourcing work for your store:
- Remote employees will not take physical space.
- It’s economical, compared to employing an on-site worker.
- It ensures that the people you’ll hire are as competent as they can be (rather than you trying to do everything on your own, including the things you’re not good at).
- Everything from contracts to payroll will be easier and more seamless.
- If you need more people, you can hire more easily.
Treat your store like an economy
The backbone of your store is your existing customers. Don’t focus too much on acquiring new customers. Instead, focus on the existing ones. They are the ones who will fund your growth.
Market to your loyal customers. It may sound counterintuitive, but it works effectively. This makes sure that they keep buying, which sustains your revenue. They will also be more likely to buy more and invite more people because they are delighted with your store. A core of loyal customers leads to growth and success.
Use positive reinforcement for your customers, like loyalty programs, referral rewards and promos. Incentivize loyalty. Give a reason for customers to come back.
Here are some Shopify apps that can help you with that:
Smile: Rewards & Loyalty by Smile.io
Referral Candy by ReferralCandy
Loyalty & rewards program by LoyaltyLion
Feature customers by reposting their user generated content. This hits three birds with one stone. It makes the highlighted customer happy, it shows other people that you recognize your customers and it encourages other customers to post content for you so they can be featured, too.
A story for your store
Stories and growth are synergistic. Growth always has a story behind it, and a story will not be worth telling if there is no growth. A story also shows you and your audience how much you’ve grown. It’s a beautiful entanglement.
Just starting your online store is already a story of growth. You built a business out of nothing!
You might feel pressured to make your brand’s story stand out. While you should consider highlighting what makes your store unique, it shouldn’t affect your true story.
That’s to say that your story doesn’t have to be over-the-top. It should, above all, be real. Authenticity is more valuable to your audience than novelty.
Speaking of authenticity, you have to be very careful of the relationship between your story and your brand. If what your brand stands for is not in line with the story you’re telling about it, it will diminish your perceived authenticity to your audience.
Have a story for the wares you sell. Take this advice literally: “People don’t buy products you sell, they buy stories you tell.”
Instead of making generic product descriptions, use stories that help people understand why to buy, how to use it and when to use it--and even, what buying that product says about them. . This is especially important if you have a very unique selling proposition or a motivation for why you want to sell your products.
Communication and content
The greatest key in any healthy and productive relationship is to communicate with and help everyone involved in the relationship. Your store and your customers are in a business relationship, and the same principle applies: you must communicate and help one another.
The best way to interact with customers is to use social media. Not only are most of your customers using social media, the platforms also pave the way for interaction between humans and businesses.
Social media posts
Posting useful content is the easiest way for you to ”talk” to your customers. Post tutorials, tips or even memes that your customers would appreciate.
User Generated Content
You can highlight user generated content, instead of always creating your own, new content. The easiest way to find user-generated content is by asking for it through social media.
One of the best ways to interact with your customers is to do it in real-time. Use the live feature of social media platforms to hang out, show your everyday life, give a behind-the-scenes tour or gather questions from your community and answer them.
Even partnering with just one brand influencer for your store will help support and encourage your growth.
First, the influencer already has a community. Depending on their fame and how long they’ve been an influencer, they could have followers ranging from one thousand to millions. These are the potential customers you can reach through the influencer. We recommend you go first with nano or micro influencers with a range of 500 to 10,000 followers, because the cost is going to be lower.
Second, that means that your store’s content and communication isn’t solely relying on you on your marketing team. Influencers can take on some of the load of your marketing content, depending on what you’ve agreed upon.
Get ready to step back a bit
You can’t see how much you are growing if you are too focused on reaching your goals. Have a set amount of time for you and your team to reach your target growth. After reaching your designated time, have a meeting to look at your progress with fresh eyes, detached feelings and a new perspective.
If you measure and quantify your growth immediately after reaching your designated time, you might be too attached to the work, and you might make decisions based on emotions rather than data. Step back, let it out of your mind for at least a few days and then go back. That way, you can realistically and objectively see if you’ve really made progress or not.
Improvise, Adapt, Overcome
This is a very effective mindset to have, especially for online stores. Being flexible enough to improvise and adapt, and resilient enough to overcome challenges are some of the biggest advantages of having an online store.
The online environment is very fast-paced. Trends pass by so fast, and sometimes, a decision needs to be made while the tide is high. Don’t hesitate to think on your feet. The greatest ideas might sound the craziest. Humor yourself and just try. Shopify’s platform gives you the freedom and flexibility to do that.
However, if you want to make a less risky decision, consult your data.
Shopify’s built-in analytics or Google analytics analyze the data of your customer behaviors and your store traffic, and then they present it in an objective and understandable manner. It’s smart to use this data to adapt a strategy that isn’t working into one that might do better.
Fortunately, Having Shopify’s flexible platform, makes it easy to implement changes on-the-fly in real-time, even without interrupting business operations.
Switch to a growth mindset
Sometimes, the only thing that’s stopping you from growing is yourself.
Doubt is one of the most handy behaviors that we have for self-preservation. However, if you don’t keep it in check, it could be a very big hindrance to growth. Get perspectives from outsiders such as a consultant, a loved one or your friendly neighborhood Shopify expert. Someone who’s not emotionally attached to the success of your store will be able to tell you if your doubts are reasonable or unreasonable.
It can be helpful to think of your store like a tree. Remember that for a tree to grow in a healthy way, you need to prune unhealthy branches. Similarly, don’t be afraid to change course if a campaign, plan, decision or marketing tactic doesn’t work. Shopify has plenty of tools and opportunities for you to tweak, test and experiment.
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Growth is growth, no matter how little your progression. It’s definitely way better to have little growth, than to have losses, stagnation or growth that’s too fast for you to handle.
Growth is a constant. Having an online store is a never-ending journey of learning, adjusting and growth.