Ecommerce: When Boom Threatens Bust

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There are some things in life it’s hard to sympathize with. If someone tells you that their job is too well paying and they don’t know what to spend money on anymore, chances are, your sympathy well is going to be pretty dry. Or if someone else ventures the fact they sometimes worry they are too happy and content in their relationship – there’s not much you can do with that except roll your eyes.

 

If you ever find yourself in the position of struggling to keep up with demand for your online retail company, then that too will be cause for a lack of sympathy. In a world where companies are going bust all the time, the idea of having too much business to handle is something that most entrepreneurs would only dream of. If you were to go and post on a business forum, panicking about how well your products are selling, then you’re not going to receive much but a few mutterings about how it’s “alright for some people”.

 

It’s a shame that few focus on the idea of demand being too high, because it’s something that can happen without any warning. At the beginning of your business, you just hoped for one sale – and you celebrated every one that trickled in. Now, you find yourself rushed off your feet, struggling to keep up with orders, and wondering how your little from-home job has suddenly taken on a life of its own.

 

Small Business: Now Big Business

 

The vast majority of online stores that are set up by sole traders are motivated by passion. They are unlikely to turn a profit in the early days of trading, but they are sustained by determination and a desire for a part-time income. Very few people embark on ecommerce with the idea that it’s going to be their full-time job and something they devote their time to entirely.

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It’s a good job that’s the case, because being able to pack in your normal job and work from home selling online isn’t something that many businesses can sustain. If you have been one of the lucky ones, it can feel wonderful… but there’s no doubt it’s a surprise too. You didn’t expect to be this successful, which means you don’t have any plans for handling being this successful.

 

Make The Choice: Stay Or Go?

 

You now have to make a decision: are you going to go full-time and dedicate yourself to your flourishing business? Or did you only want it as a side job, a little extra income, rather than a replacement for your main job?

 

If the latter is the case, then you have no choice but to scale down and start refusing orders. You could genuinely harm your reputation if you can no longer meet demand, so be more select and close sales down when you’re becoming overwhelmed.

 

However, most people will choose the first option: go for it and try to make this your career. It’s a big leap, but you’ve already got some positives going for you as you switch to working for yourself, from home. You clearly know what you’re doing and have hit on an idea that is successful; you now have a legitimate chance ahead of you to make your ecommerce business into a reality.

 

Of course, you’re now faced with the task of doing just that – and it’s something that’s a lot easier said than done.

 

The Next Steps: What Do You Need?

 

So you find yourself in a situation where your business is expanding at a rate you can’t handle. The best thing to do might be to finish all of your existing orders, then suspend online ordering for a couple of days while you put the next steps into action.

 

As this is ecommerce, let’s assume that you are selling a product. So ask yourself a few key questions, and you will find the answer to what your next step should be will reveal itself. Of course, when you start asking questions, a few more spring up alongside them – but such is the nature of business!

 

Question One: How do I source my product?

 

Do you make it yourself, buy it intact and then sell it on? Who are your suppliers for the materials you are using?

 

Question Two: Can I source more of my product?

 

Do you have the time to make more of your product? Might you need to bring in other people to help, and how might you go about doing that?

 

Question Three: Is it time for a price rise?

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If you are currently selling stock as fast as you can make/procure it, then you have to examine your pricing strategy. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. If you can only produce a limited number of items, then you need to charge more for them. Even if you can source more products, it’s still worth experimenting with higher prices – you have clearly hit a space in the market, so why not make the most of it?

 

Question Four: How will you cope with the extra tasks ahead of you?

 

This one can be trickier to answer than you might initially think. If you’re going to be selling more products, then you’re going to be doing more of everything. For example, you’re going to be sending more parcels, spending more time processing orders, entering the fresh income into your business books.

 

This is why you likely need to leave your full-time job; just managing the business at a slight increase in sales is going to take a lot more extra work. Identify the areas that you will need to increase your time and financial investment into.

 

Question Five: What help might I need?

 

When you have reached the stage where a business is a success and you are dedicating more time to it, you can’t afford to be an island. Making, selling, and sending your products solo might have been possible in the beginning – but it’s fast becoming a liability. That’s why you need to investigate your options.

 

  • Could you do with a service that lists items for sale for you?
  • Do you need to hire a writer to help you craft perfect product descriptions?
  • Are you going to need to rent space for the higher stock volume you will now be handling?
  • Are you going to need ecommerce store inventory management to help you cope with all that extra stock?

 

The answer to all of the above is probably a resounding yes, so you have to launch yourself into sourcing all of these complex forms of assistance.

 

Question Six: Do I need a partner?

 

You began by yourself, but you only need to reread the last few paragraphs to see how much more work you are now going to be bringing upon yourself. Can you realistically continue to do this alone? Do you need a partner or part-time employees to help you cope?

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All of the above might seem like big, scary questions for a small business you founded with few dreams beyond making some extra spending money. Nevertheless, they are the reality of the situation you face. If your business is expanding at a rate you are struggling to manage, then it’s crystal clear that something needs to change – and soon.

 

The more you struggle to meet demand, the more your business is going to be groaning under the strain. Without wanting to scare you, it’s important to remember this simple truism: if you don’t handle the boom, you’re soon going to be handling the bust. This is a big change in your life, but it’s one that is going to give you a career you might only have dreamed of. Make the most of it; you’re one of the lucky ones, so enjoy it.

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