Online sellers can often feel like Jacks of all roles. Managing listings, orders, stock, invoicing and reporting alongside marketing, accounting, warehousing and facilities. Sure it’s fun to begin with, but it soon becomes time-consuming, money-draining and stressful. And with the festive season well on the horizon, it’s about to get worse – but it doesn’t have to.
At Expandly, we help online retailers save time every day, and we’ve gathered together our top time-saving tips to share with the FreeeUp community. So, grab a well-earned coffee (or tea) and set aside the most important five minutes of your new streamlined ecommerce life.
1. Sell on multiple sales channels
Multichannel selling might seem like an illogical way to save time, but bear with us. Multichannel selling involves selling your product on multiple sales channels, including the big guns (Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Wish) and your website shopping cart (e.g. Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce).
How does this save you time? Being on multiple sales channels increases your exposure by reaching different customers on different platforms. This, in turn, increases your sales, growing your business at a quicker rate than single-channel commerce. This means less time waiting for the funds to grow and more time actually having the funds to grow. Now you just need to find the time to use it.
2. Do things in bulk
Ever planned to go to the grocery store to get milk, take it home, go back to get bread, take it home, go back to get eggs, take them home and so on? Of course not. That’s a huge waste of time. So why are you doing the same with your online business?
Logging into each sales channel, individually updating listings, processing orders one-by-one, creating picking and packing lists for each, and manually printing shipping labels – no wonder you’re reading a blog on time-saving techniques!
Invest in the tools that allow you to complete these processes in bulk and, if possible, across all of your sales channels to save even more time.
3. Stop making errors
Description typos, listing duplications, erroneous prices – we all make mistakes. And we all know the time they cost in noticing, amending, updating customers and apologizing. While we can’t recommend a magic wand to eliminate all mistakes in your life, we can recommend a way to significantly reduce the chance of mistakes happening.
Using listing software reduces the need to retype information by duplicating listings across sales channels, populating invoices, pushing data directly to accounting software (such as Xero) and generating reports. Fewer mistakes means happier customers and less time spent handling complaints and cursing yourself.
4. Automatically sync where possible
If Amazon can automatically replenish your kitchen towel when you run low, then you can automatically sync your stock and sales data. Advancements in technology make inventory management software and accounting integrations readily available and affordable. Pick a multichannel management platform that incorporates these two features to save not only time but money, too.
Accounting platform integration has the added benefit of ensuring that your accounts are up-to-the-minute, allowing you to make sound financial decisions and invest in stock, marketing and sales accordingly. What’s more, with all of this information flowing back and forth automatically, preparing your accounts and completing your tax returns will be a real breeze.
5. Remove the guesswork
Guesswork is one of the biggest time-suckers we see in ecommerce. Guessing what products to stock, when to stock them, where to stock them, when to replenish stock and which stock bundles work. Guess right, and you’re onto a winner. Guess wrong, and you’ve wasted effort, resources and costs. And you’ll need to do it all over again.
Reports might not be your favorite word, but they don’t have to be your least favorite, with plenty of software out there that can remove the guesswork and base your stock, sales strategy and plans on robust and accurate data that has been gathered for you.
6. Integrate your platforms
It takes a lot of different platforms to run a successful ecommerce business. First up you have your website and shopping cart. Then you have additional marketplaces. Shipping carriers are essential. Then there’s inventory and accounting software. Oh and don’t forget reporting. Overwhelmed yet? We are.
All of these platforms aim to make your ecommerce business functioning and easy, but they can quickly have the opposite effect. Consider using a tool that integrates all of your different platforms into one single platform – viewing, managing and processing them all centrally. One login, one location, one dashboard. Simple.
7. Outsource if you can
At the beginning of your ecommerce journey, it was no doubt necessary for you to take on all roles within the business. A practice that can easily stick, despite your growth. But sometimes, letting go of control is a good thing, especially when it’s in areas where you’re not a self-proclaimed expert.
Freelance experts can complete your marketing, social media, blog, bookkeeping, and admin quicker and better than you can, reducing mistakes and giving you more time to invest in growing your business.
8. Stay current
When time is tight, staying on top of ecommerce news, trends and insights falls to the bottom of the list. Many ecommerce entrepreneurs overlook the importance of staying relevant to save time, but it’s important.
Imaging planning a big product release, investing in marketing and sales, preparing for the big release day, only to find out your competitor did it last month. Or that Amazon has launched a new feature that could double your sales, but you didn’t know about it. Keeping on top of the latest happenings in the ecommerce industry is easy when you follow blogs, social media and ecommerce news roundups – letting them do the crunching for you.
9. Reduce complaints
No one likes complaints. They damage your reputation and show flaws in your service, not to mention the valuable time you spend dealing with them. We know you don’t set out to receive negative feedback or angry emails, but sometimes you’re so caught up running your ecommerce business that you fail to see customer pain points.
Reduce niggles with your service by ensuring your listings are accurate, that stock is synced (and never oversold) and that any orders are promptly processed, invoiced, picked, packed and shipped. If you’re struggling to do this manually, invest in multichannel management software that incorporates inventory management features to do it all for you.
Planning your business strategy, marketing plans and growth is easy. Planning some me-time is the hard part.
When you’re done making all the time-saving changes above, plan some downtime and stick to it. You deserve it. And you need it to be at your best – because your business deserves it.
Expandly is the multichannel management software saving ecommerce businesses time and money. Easily integrate your online marketplaces, shopping cart, shipping carriers and Xero accounting to manage listings, process orders, monitor your inventory, bulk-print shipping labels and run informative reports. All at an affordable price. Integrations include Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Wish, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, Royal Mail, DHL and more. Find out for yourself with a free 14-day trial here.