We’re based in the North East of England and one of the biggest local employers is Nissan. When it first arrived in the North East, it revolutionised manufacturing processes largely through the Kaizen technique. Kaizen is about continual review and reflection – 100’s of incremental changes that add up to big improvements over time.
You probably run your e-commerce business in the same way. Incrementally improving everything you do day by day. Adding a few more products. Listing some up-sell products to an item to increase average basket size. Tweaking your Adword ads to improve your return on ad spend without losing any sales. Buying an extra tape gun to speed up the packing process on the busiest days.
However, Kaizen can only take you so far. You will periodically need to take a step change. At Nissan, they call this Horshin. You basically need to step up to a new way of doing things. And while Kaizen is often something you can drive yourself, Horshin often needs external help to make it work.
Here are four things you are doing today you could be doing differently.
- 1. Manually creating new products
Every ecommerce tool allows you to add products manually one at time. And when you are first starting out, the excitement of doing so is great. Create a product and watch it sell. However, bulk uploads can be a mystery. Sure, you can put products in a spreadsheet but how do you deal with parent-child products, sizes, colours, barcodes that keep getting converted to scientific format, linking images, putting HTML into a description etc.
We feel your pain. We have been there too. However, we now have a range of solutions for you to upload hundreds or thousands of items at the same time. Our clients rely on our tools and often our help to make that step change in to listing thousands of items. Could we help you?
- 2. Packing your own parcels
You know you are growing when they know your name at the sorting office whatever day you go. It’s great to be in charge of making sure you send out all of your orders every day – but as you grow you need more space. More space means complexity. Rent, rates, bills, benches, fork lift, carrier negotiations, opening early for deliveries, dealing with peaks and troughs in order volumes. The list goes on and on. When you started selling your favourite products online, did you really expect to be warehouse manager too?
One route many of our clients have used is outsourcing their fulfilment activity. Make the whole thing somebody else’s problem. As well as business simplification, you can also benefit from cost savings – especially around bulk delivery prices for all clients of a fulfilment company. I know of companies who almost halved their parcel rate simply through bulk buying by the fulfilment company.
We have developed a range of tools to make life easy for you, whether you are connecting to Amazon FBA or your local fulfilment company like our partner Spark Response. Everything is managed through automated interfaces, leaving you to focus on what you love – making your customers happy with amazing products.
- 3. Creating your own Adwords ads
Adwords is an amazing tool. A few clicks and you are buying relevant traffic for your site. However, you quickly learn what happens when you don’t watch carefully. A seemingly well-targeted keyword ends up getting hundreds of clicks from people looking for something unrelated to what you sell. Lots of traffic, no sales and a maxed-out company credit card. Ouch.
Often the most profitable return comes from product advertising, but using Google Products is far from plain sailing. Even once set up feeds get rejected – wrong barcode, data on website doesn’t match the feed, products don’t show correctly – again, the list goes on and on. Often a few tweaks to your feed and everything is sorted, but if XLST, XML and CSV are all a mystery, then making those tweaks is a complete headache.
We have written a number of custom tools for setting up your daily product feed. We can create custom labels so that you can target your advertising more accurately. For example, you might want to exclude low margin products from being bid too high. Simply add a label, modify your rules to serve different ads based on the label value. Easy if you know how to get labels in your feed. Give us a call if you think we could help you out.
- 4. Creating your own search rules
Magento search is probably the worst out-of-the-box search of any ecommerce providers. I have seen clients with hundreds of referral pages set up to cope with poor site search. The time spent is enormous and for just £7 a month you could have an amazing laser-sharp search feature. We use Searchanise with a number clients. Out-of-the-box with no changes, it delivers excellent results with no need to create your own manual. Tens of hours saved and the customer is precision guided to what they need. Everyone is a winner.
- 5. Finally…
You can probably think of 10 other things that wish you weren’t doing – manual barcode labelling, manual stock adjustments and printing carrier labels could all have been on this list. We are in the business of ecommerce automation and integration – perhaps you need our help to help make some “Horshin” changes in your business?
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