With the economic strain of COVID-19, there has never been a better time to optimize and re-evaluate your e-commerce operations.
The last several months have been marked by an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. The US GDP dropped 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020, the steepest decline since the financial crisis of late 2008. Further, the US unemployment rate made a whopping leap to 14.7% in April 2020 as many brick-and-mortar businesses were forced to shut down operations due to stay at home orders.
Despite these shocking and discouraging statistics, not all sectors of the economy are suffering. According to an analysis of emarketer’s customer database, daily average sales for e-commerce businesses in April were 39% higher than March. Further, some reports indicate that e-commerce retailers have seen a 43% increase in sales.
Although overall spending is certainly lower now than it was this time last year, e-commerce has quickly become the new norm. For retailers looking to stay competitive in this new market, optimizing their e-commerce operations will be a key revenue strategy.
For those looking to launch an online presence, this guide can help with the digital and marketing aspects and this guide can help with the operational side of running an e-commerce warehouse.
For companies with existing e-commerce operations, Upright Labs recommends the following methods for optimizing supply chains and finding additional revenue opportunities.
1. Conduct a Product Category Analysis
Certain categories of products sell for higher price points online than they do in traditional retail settings. One great resource to analyze online price points is Terapeak by Ebay. In order to maximize revenue, those categories should be sold exclusively online.
To identify these products, it’s important to conduct a full analysis on the financial data for items sold in store versus e-commerce by product category and subcategories. The financial data analyzed should compare the total revenue and total costs including labor, shipping time, and storage expenses. All categories where the revenue increase is enough to offset any additional costs associated with transporting items to e-commerce locations should be transitioned to e-commerce sales.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Upright Labs conducted a product analysis that helped a client generate a 25% increase in revenue for a particular product category by sending all of that category’s inventory to their e-commerce department. |
2. Maximize Your Digital Footprint
Another method for optimizing e-commerce is to utilize search engine optimization (SEO) to get a better return on certain categories of products.
Before starting Upright Labs, our founders David and Jackson utilized this strategy to maximize their own e-commerce business. They found they could buy used Birkenstocks in bulk for $1 per lb and sell them online for $20 or more per pair when marketed via niche websites during peak sandal season.
Focusing on SEO and creating niche websites can improve your return by making products easier for customers to discover and purchase.
3. Minimize Shipping Costs
One of the primary costs associated with e-commerce is shipping and transportation. Depending on volume and scale there are a number of measures that can be taken to reduce those costs.
One avenue is reducing the cost of packing goods by using cardboard shredding machines and water based adhesive tape. These measures reduce the time spent packaging (and therefore labor costs) while also allowing you to reuse common and inexpensive materials like cardboard.
Another opportunity to reduce costs is to choose the cheapest shipping methods available. Upright Lister, our multi-channel inventory management platform, pulls real-time shipping costs from a variety of providers like USPS, FedEx, and UPS to ensure you get the best rate every time.
4. Maximize Operational Efficiency of E-commerce
Operational efficiency is key for leveraging your workforce and scaling in a cost effective manner. With social distancing measures in effect, setting up streamlined operational processes is of even greater importance than usual.
As a proponent of lean methodologies, Upright Labs recommends frequent examination of workflows and product movement to identify and remove bottlenecks and sources of “waste”.These audits will ensure your organization is constantly iterating, innovating, and improving from an operational perspective.
5. Expand Your Offering
At times, a boost in revenue may come from creative initiatives designed to expand your existing offerings in low-cost ways. This may mean trying variations on existing products like adding patches to denim jackets or selling seasonal or related products as gift baskets. Experimentation in this realm can yield interesting insights when properly tracked and analyzed.
E-commerce is an increasingly important offering for consumers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our expertise and operational insights have allowed us to optimize and implement over a million square feet of e-commerce operations via Upright Services and process over 100 million dollars in gross revenue with Upright Lister. During COVID-19 specifically, we’ve assisted over 20 retailers in scaling their e-commerce departments while navigating the increasing consumer demand to shop online. We welcome you to experience the value by partnering with Upright Labs, a customer-focused and transformative software and service provider. If you’re interested in boosting your e-commerce business, schedule a free 30 minute consultation with our team of experts.