So you’ve started your own ecommerce store. You’ve read the articles claiming you can manage and maintain an ecommerce business in only a few hours a day — but maybe you find it a full-time job just to keep everything running smoothly. Is your ecommerce side hustle draining away your productive hours? Maybe it’s time to see where you can streamline your process and make doing business a joy again.
Set Workable Strategies
Before you can truly begin improving your process, it pays to consider what you’re trying to improve in the first place. Is your ecommerce store your lifeblood, or a side hustle? Do you want to sell on only one platform, or diversify across several? Will maintaining the store take away from time you spend actually the providing goods and services you sell? If so, how much can you give it? Is there anything you can and should subcontract? The answers to these questions will pay off when the time comes to start trimming the proverbial fat.
Create Small, Sustainable Habits
Staying on top of your ecommerce business can be a challenging prospect, especially if you’re juggling it with a full-time job and trying to have a social / family life. Getting overwhelmed is easy. Setting boundaries and sustainable habits is harder, but vital to your long-term success and happiness.
Set a sane, workable routine and stick to it as closely as you can. Start your day with processing transactions and handling your inventory. Social media and customer service can be handled at certain times of day — not whenever they happen. Maybe check your analytics and website traffic a few times a week instead of multiple times a day. Updates and data backup, if not fully automated, can be handled before the end of your day. Control your workflow — don’t let it control you.
To Streamline, Simplify
When looking for ways to make the most of your time without cutting corners, look for where you can simplify instead of eliminate. Can that customer contact form be made a bit more minimalist? Would your website look and work better with a simplified CMS theme? Can templates and stock photos to add flavor to your social media campaign without a lot of extra work? Can that huge, complex blog post be broken down into an easy-to-digest series? Everyone’s busy and short on time. Sometimes stripping away the unnecessary frills can be just as welcome to your customers as it is to you.
Automate Your Work Life
Life is so much nicer when the little details are taken care of for you. One of the best ways to streamline your ecommerce business: be your own best friend. Schedule those tweets or that blog post with an app or scheduling feature. Automate your payment, inventory and sales. Use cloud-based accounting software to sync up your expenses and invoicing. Every process you automate frees up more time to do what you do best. Take advantage of the tools you have on hand!
Protect Your Data
Because you’re trusting so much to software, it’s prudent to make sure you always have the latest software. Make sure your CMS is up-to-date, as well as any plugins. If you have any back-end software, stay current. How is this streamlining? Simple: hacks and data breaches can cost a ton of time and money, and doing damage control is much more labor-intensive than doing your best to prevent problems in the first place. Make backups, updates, and necessary patching a part of your daily routine.
Focus on the Customer
One of the best ways to streamline your business: look at your business through the eyes of a customer. Is that registration pop-up on your website useful, or does it get in the way of the content people came to find? Are your newsletters informative and attractive, or could they be shorter and punchier? Do those paragraphs of blog copy convey your message efficiently… or could the same information be conveyed in a few sentences? Making life easy for your customers will often make life better for you and your business.
Every business involves struggle and challenge, and ecommerce is no exception. Whether you’re in it part time or it’s your personal passion, the secret lies in taking control of your obstacles and not letting the details get the best of you. Remember: your most valuable commodity is time, and you must manage it more ruthlessly than any other resource.