Managing an online store

Managing an online store means being in control of your D2C operations. You need to automate the ordering process as much as you can. You need to set and track performance measures. And as your business grows, you need to start thinking about developing people and teams. 

Managing an online store

To the online shopper, an online store is ‘open’ 24/7. But that doesn’t mean you as a D2C store owner need to work 24/7 to manage orders. Your store should have at least some automated processes so that it still runs when you need to do other things. 

Here we review some of the processes you should be looking to put in place when it comes to managing an online store.

This includes order management, performance tracking and some thoughts on people and teams as your online store grows. 

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Order processing automation

When you first set up your D2C store, most of your processes will be manual. You might pick up emails yourself and pick and pack products directly off the shelf in your storage facility. 

But the bigger the store grows, the more you should consider re-investing some of the profits back into the business to automate where possible. This helps you spend time on more important parts of your D2C business. And less time on administering repeatable tasks.

So rather than have lots of email enquiries which you have to handle one by one, you could add an FAQ section or a chatbot to your website. This can reduce the volume of contacts to your customer service team.

Your delivery company should be able to help by informing you when an order goes through different stages of the delivery process. You can link these updates to an automated email system which can inform the consumer of the progress of their order.  

At each key stage of the order process – the receipt of the order, the picking and packing, the product is in transit, the product is delivered – you can automate many of these outbound emails to improve the customer experience and reduce the need for them to contact you. 

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In bigger operations, you should consider a move away from manual picking altogether. The bigger retailers in online are investing in automated robotic picking and if you reach this scale it can add significant efficiencies and cost savings.

You should review each step of your order process system and look where possible to automate the flow so that the process works more smoothly for the customer. And places less demands on your time. You should only have to intervene or interact when there is a problem or something goes wrong. 

Measurement

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, managing an online store is like running a separate business.

And within that business you want to build a team spirit as many different functions and skills need to come together to make D2C work properly.

Performance measurement

You should have set goals and KPIs  in your D2C strategy and plan. You should review these on a regular basis and look to identify opportunities to improve.

As a starting point, you should have a P&L for your D2C store. This shows the health of the business capturing sales and costs. You should analyse this regularly to review opportunities and challenges. 

It is likely that your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will evolve over time from simple orders and shipments to more specific parts of the shopping process. For example, you can focus on improving abandoned cart rates for your marketing and website team. Or you can focus on orders dispatched with a certain number of hours of receipt for your warehouse team. You can consider customer service KPIs such as the number of complaints or the number of complaints handled satisfactorily. 

You should consider having a regularly updated business dashboard (at least weekly or monthly). This dashboard should be reviewed at regular intervals with each of the key teams involved.

 

People and teams 

We cover in our article on E-Commerce Systems the different functions required to support a D2C operation.

But as a D2C store owner, you should also consider the people and teams behind each of those functions. What motivates them and how can they bring their expertise to grow your D2C business?

Marketing people can help you think more about the consumer / shopper and what they might be looking for. Your website and technical teams can help make the shopping experience run more smoothly. Even something as simple as making the page load faster will have an impact on sales over the longer term. 

Your warehouse and delivery teams will be the experts in moving products from A to B. If possible you should spend time in the warehouse and follow an order getting dispatched. (this doesn’t work in some models like Print on Demand or Drop Shipping). You should also look for ways to improve the packaging or labelling to improve the shopper experience.

 

Account Management

And finally most of all, you should be using your customer service team to listen to your consumers. Make sure your complaint rate is going down, not up. Ask consumers for suggestions about how you can improve the D2C experience.

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Managing an online store successfully

We hope you’ve found our series of articles on running a D2C store useful. It is a challenging sales channel but can be very rewarding.

If we were to use the world of sport as an analogy, managing an online store is like taking part in the decathlon. You don’t need to be perfect in all disciplines, but it’s the combination of skills across all elements of the D2C business operations that ultimately defines whether you will be a successful D2C store operator or not. 

Your ability to be customer focussed in super important. Without understanding your consumers and what they want, you will never be able to drive sales.

Your ability to set up a shopper experience and systems to operate a D2C store is also critical. There are so many variables to control, you should decide what you can handle and where you need to call in specialist help. 

And finally, the ability to be flexible and resilient will help you win through in the end. Because there is so much complexity and consumers are so unpredictable, something will go wrong at some point. Recalling a product. An angry customer. A break down in a system or process. Credit card fraud. You name it, D2C can throw a lot of challenges your way.

A final word on managing an online store

But ultimately your online D2C store is a business you control. It can be liberating to not depend on retail buyers if that is the model you are used to. And for your brand, D2C is the ultimate connection with a consumer. The consumer trusts you enough to hand over their credit card details. 

We wish you much success in your D2C store.

Three-brains and e-Commerce

We have worked on many e-Commerce projects and have good experience across strategy, working with retailers and building D2C stores. We know how to connect these expertise areas back into driving your brand marketing and growing your sales. 

If you want to know more about how we can support your e-Commerce to grow your business  through our coaching and consulting services, click the button below to send us a message.

We can coach you to reach the top of your competitive game.

D2C Online Store Status dashboard
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Downloadable D2C status dashboard

Setting up an online store needs you to define your strategy and plan, work out the sales and marketing and also set up the whole operational side of the business including the finances and the delivery / supply chain model. It can be complex to manage.

That’s why we’ve used this project dashboard to great success in the past to have a simple one-page summary of the key actions require to set-up and manage a D2C online store. Download it here or from our resources section. 

Powerpoint and Keynote versions of this document available on request. 

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