An Introduction to eCommerce Business Goals & the Role of the Founder
Developing and clearly defining your eCommerce Business Goals are the first steps you must take if you wish to launch a successful eCommerce Business.
Having eCommerce Business Goals is not much different from having goals for a regular non-eCommerce business.
If you wish to achieve anything in life, and especially in business, you must have something to aim for, something to move towards. These targets are known as Goals and they include large primary goals as well as smaller sub-goals.
If you are reading this article then more than likely you are thinking about, or in the process of starting an eCommerce business. If so, what goals have you formulated? Are they generic like those stated in most articles covering eCommerce business goals? Or do you have bigger goals, that go further, that inspire you and anyone you share them with?
Before we get into the details concerning eCommerce business goals it is worth discussing the most common eCommerce business goals that people think about.
Once you have read this article you will of course realise these ‘common’ generic goals are really lower order or sub-goals. So while they are important and have value, they are not the kind of goals that generate any reverence, admiration or inspire others to help you succeed. This is because they are not Visionary Goals but rather Operational Goals.
Before continuing, let’s clarify what a goal is.
goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
Common eCommerce Goals and Objectives (A Full List)
Articles concerning eCommerce goals or objectives are common and are typically presented in search results for eCommerce Business Goals too. In fact, the list of goals I will cover below are eCommerce goals related to the function of eCommerce rather than the business itself. They are operational goals that are desirable for both eCommerce businesses as well as traditional businesses wishing to utilise certain benefits and opportunities provided by eCommerce. They are not however primary eCommerce Business Goals, which is what this article is really about.
So as not to confuse eCommerce Business Goals with eCommerce Operational Goals let us examine a list of some common goals related to the latter.
Operational eCommerce Goals and Objectives include:
1. Streamlining the Purchase Process of Goods and Products
Whether your business is B2B or B2C, an eCommerce website can streamline the process of selecting and purchasing goods. In a fast-paced world, convenience is high on most shopper’s lists. By allowing your B2B or B2C customers to browse your products and services, select different options and then add them to a digital cart or basket and finally make a payment you can create a straightforward purchase process.
To be honest, this is still a very simplistic view as there are many possible variations to this process. There are also many optimizations to be made to help speed your customers through the process or increase the number of products in their basket. Upsells, down sells, cross-sells, simpler checkouts, eCommerce landing pages, automatic quote generation, auto invoicing, auto packing slips, delivery tracking and the list goes on.
Naturally, speedy delivery completes the action cycle of this process and supports the customer experience you are trying to create. Interestingly, at the time of writing this article, I made several purchases from several eCommerce stores. I was very impressed with some of these stores and yet the store I expected the most from ended up being a very painful experience even though by its looks I thought it would be the smoothest.
Using eCommerce does not guarantee a smooth process, but clever planning and good implementation of eCommerce can do wonders for your customers’ purchase journey.
A streamlined purchase process will be a primary eCommerce objective but it is still an operational objective rather than a business objective.
2. Increasing Sales
What business doesn’t want to increase sales? A primary objective of leveraging eCommerce is to increase sales. By providing a digital platform where people can view and learn about all your products and services and purchase them easily you can increase your sales.
As mentioned in the previous section, eCommerce tools that allow for upsells, cross-sells, bundling of products, etc. can also be used to increase the size of purchases thereby increasing your sales.
3. Expanding Markets
Very much related to increasing sales, expanding your markets is all about reaching further. By allowing you to reach markets that were previously out of reach of your physical brick and mortar shop eCommerce can help you grow your business. You can find new customers, allow them to order products and then courier them.
This can have a major impact on your growth and sales especially if you have been tied to one or two physical locations. It is entirely possible to double, triple or even 10X your sales and business expansion if your eCommerce strategy and its implementation are a good one.
Increasing sales and expanding markets could be considered eCommerce business objectives as well as operational objectives. However, from a business goal point of view, these would still be secondary goals or objectives.
4. Reducing Operational and Management Costs
Having mentioned expanding markets, you would assume this means increased operations and management costs. While in the short term this may be true as you have to commit to investing in the setup and promotion of your eCommerce systems, the nature of eCommerce allows for many cost savings.
The most obvious cost-saving is the fact that you no longer need to have a physical shop and all the costs associated with one. While a fast-growing eCommerce business may require additional warehouse space, the cost of this space is certainly less than that of retail space.
Reducing costs is very much an eCommerce objective and also a worthwhile lower-tiered business objective. Though you must always balance cost savings with investment in sales generation. You can never save yourself into a bigger business but you can rocket your expansion by increasing sales.
5. Increasing Communication with Clients
It is funny how so many eCommerce goals and indeed, business goals, are aligned to increasing sales. Increasing communication with your clients is the key to increasing your sales. Using an eCommerce platform in combination with some complimentary digital tools can massively increase your communication with clients.
In fact, eCommerce can not only help you communicate more with your clients but it can help you make your communications far more relevant to your client’s interests which naturally will further enhance your customer relationships. I will explain more later in this article.
Increasing communication with your customers should be a primary eCommerce objective as well as a lower-tier eCommerce business goal as it will drive more sales and increase business growth.
6. Building More Intuitive Customer Relationships
I am sure you are starting to notice a pattern in how eCommerce objectives and eCommerce business goals interlink and support each other. Having goals and objects aligned is vital if you want to build a successful eCommerce business or any business for that matter. Building a better business to customer relationship with your clients and customers is naturally an important part of building a successful business too.
As you may have realized, building better relationships requires communication so the increased communication opportunities offered by eCommerce platforms is a clear example of goal alignment. Furthermore, both these goals align and are necessary for increasing your sales.
7. Automating Business Process
Automation is a highly popular digital transformation term these days. While I believe there must be a balance between automation and manual processes, the fact is the automation of certain processes is not only a good idea but can sometimes be necessary.
Automating business processes through the use of an eCommerce platform is a great way to increase business efficiency and save on costs. For example, excellent use of automation is to automate not only the generation of invoices for customers who have made purchases but also automating the process of entering invoices into your accounting system. With the right eCommerce tools, you can set up systems that keep your invoices synchronized with your accounting software and largely eliminate the need for manual invoice generation.
Will this save you time and money, I think the answer is clear.
8. Automating Marketing & Sales
Still, on the subject of automation, it is impossible to discuss eCommerce goals without also discussing marketing automation. eCommerce platforms are essentially sales automation systems. eCommerce shops allow customers to choose products, add them to a basket, cart, trolley or whatever you wish to call it and then securely complete the sales process by making payment.
But the sales cycle is not complete without marketing for the two cannot be separated as they are really two steps of the same process. Where sales are about closing the deal, marketing is about finding the right prospects and creating want.
Automating marketing is a natural complement to the sales automation provided by eCommerce platforms. Automating marketing is also intimately connected with increasing communication and building better customer relationships.
9. Building Customer Loyalty
Building customer loyalty is an important supporting eCommerce business goal, successfully growing a business requires loyal customers. Customer loyalty is also an eCommerce objective and is typically achieved through the combination and alignment of many if not all of the eCommerce goals listed in this article.
Creating customer-focused user journeys supported by intuitive, relevant and consistent marketing & sales, customer onboarding, and support processes go a long way to building customer loyalty. Cementing that loyalty, however, is ultimately achieved through the timely delivery of good quality products as promised.
Enhance this process by doing everything in a manner that exceeds expectations and you are in for a rocket ride towards business successes most only dream of.
10. Enhancing the Customer Experience
Enhancing customer experience is part and parcel of building customer loyalty. A well-greased eCommerce machine plays a large part in this experience. As an eCommerce objective, enhancing your customer’s eCommerce experience can be done through customer-focused onboarding processes as well as easy to use support systems.
While your offline customer interactions, product delivery, after-sales services and many other factors also play a large part in the overall customer experience, how people interact with your eCommerce website depends on the quality of your eCommerce design including how the user journey and interaction points have been structured. As such exceptional customer experience should always be a core objective.
11. Increasing Business Efficiency
Business efficiency is improved through effective organization and administration. You will always find the ‘busiest’ or rather the most chaotic business departments or divisions are those that are the least organized.
Efficiency comes about by managing the flow of communications, products, production, people throughout your business. The smoother the flow the faster the flow and the more efficient you will be. Efficiency and speed help to reduce cost and increase productivity, sales and more.
A well thought out and designed eCommerce platform can aid the efficiency of your business in many ways by streamlining the flow of communication, sales, support, onboarding, administration and more.
This is very much an operational goal that will support your eCommerce business goals.
12. Generating High Volumes of Quality Traffic
If you are selling your products and services using an eCommerce website then you will have to ensure your online shop has a steady flow of quality traffic. Well planned and executed Marketing Campaigns are thus vital to supporting the growth and profitability of your eCommerce business.
Good marketing is efficient marketing. Targeting the right market, creating want and funnelling them along the sales cycle towards the close. The success of your marketing is however tied to all your other processes.
If you have great marketing campaigns but a poor eCommerce website then your marketing suffers. If your payment process is poor then marketing efforts are wasted. If your failure to deliver your products on time or they are of poor quality and get returned often then your public relations will be poor and it will make marketing that much harder.
A great marketing strategy will generate high volumes of qualified traffic but as with every aspect of your business, it is only as good or effective as the other business functions which support it.
13. Extending the Shopping Experience to Mobile Devices
Today, more and more people have smartphones. In fact, some people only use their smartphones to access the Internet. Naturally, ensuring your products, services, courses and other eCommerce offerings are available to users of mobile devices must be a priority.
Mobile devices have had a major impact on the Internet itself. Search engines such as Google have implemented numerous changes to their algorithm and how they rank websites to cater to mobile devices. Indeed, mobile-first indexing is how Google looks at websites and recent changes to their algorithm are now pushing website owners, web designs and developers and eCommerce platforms to prioritize optimization and usability for mobile users.
If eCommerce optimization and the extension of your shopping experience for mobile users is not a priority then you had better have another look at your current eCommerce goals.
Mobile eCommerce is arguably one of the most important opportunities for eCommerce businesses today.
14. Multiple Payment & Delivery Options
Choice, choice and more choice! Consumers love choices and a recent global consumer spending study has shown that offering multiple payment options is a key driver of eCommerce sales conversions.
A clear eCommerce objective then should be to assess all the payment options available and select several options that will cover the needs of your customers. Options should allow for credit/debit cards, electronic funds transfers, payment wallets and payment plans could even be an option to allow people to pay off their purchases.
Payment plans and subscription payments are becoming increasingly popular as it allows people to make purchases that would otherwise be too large for them to manage at one time. Finally, credit options are also a possibility with integration with certain third-party providers.
Payment options must be weighed against both the needs of your customers as well as our own as payment gateway costs can add up. The options are something that can be discussed with an experienced eCommerce consultant.
Lastly, payment options are not the only thing consumers want. Including multiple delivery options is also a great way to better cater to a wide range of client needs.
What are Your Real eCommerce Business Goals?
Now that we have looked at some of the most common eCommerce objectives, it is time to look at eCommerce Business Goals.
Before I share my views on what I believe constitute primary eCommerce business goals I want to be clear that these are my views. Your goals for your business whether it is an eCommerce business or a brick and mortar business are up to you.
In fact, this article has more to do with how to set your eCommerce business goals in ways that make them more achievable.
Let us look first at a common goal most business owners set. To Make Money!
PS: While the title of this article pertains to eCommerce business goals, its contents are no less applicable to non-eCommerce businesses.
The Goal of Making Money
Do you think making money should be the number one goal of a company? Will your employees agree with and back this goal? Will your customers agree with and back this goal? Does this goal motivate you and your team to get it achieved? Whose survival does this goal assist?
There is no argument that a business should not make money. Without a constant flow of sufficient money, no business can survive as it will not be able to pay for the raw materials, people who process them into products and the administration that ensures production and exchange takes place.
However, there are many problems with setting your primary goal as, ‘Make Money.
Do you think your employees will agree with this goal if they are not also receiving a fair share of the profits? Do you think your customers will agree with this goal? Does the company accumulating wealth assist the survival of your employees, customers, the community, the nation, the environment, etc.? Is money really such a good motivator of action or does it lead to shortcuts, profiteering, degraded products and poor working conditions?
Now please don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe one should not accumulate wealth nor have the pursuit of wealth as a goal. Money buys freedom, it can be used to accomplish great good in the world but it is really only a tool to achieve other ends.
Shouldn’t higher goals and purposes or creative ideas that change the world for the better be the target of attainment rather than a mere tool?
Aiming for a Higher Goal through Purpose
To create high flown goals, you must have a clear purpose. Achieving your purposes become the means to achieving your overall goal.
The definition of purpose:
purpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
If you were to set your primary eCommerce business goal, ‘To Make Money’ your purpose would likely be an individual purpose, that is to say, to create wealth for yourself as the owner.
As you can see, this excludes others and thus gaining agreement from them to assist you may not be easy. More likely you will have employees who are motivated by nothing else but their paycheck (employees typically follow the example set from above). People who work for just a paycheck are not highly motivated and seldom put in more effort than is necessary. I’m sure you have seen people like this and think of a few examples of companies or governments that operate this way.
For Example: If your purpose was to provide the highest quality healthy food for your local community or for your country or even the world then your primary goal might be something like this, “To become the biggest supplier of healthy, organic, pesticide free produce globally and positively impact the lives of a billion people.”
As you can see this is a far higher order goal than just making money. Setting the accumulation of money as a lower-order goal still has value in that money can be used to help achieve the purposes of high order goals.
The purpose behind your goal is also one that should inspire your employees and your customers and indeed gain their agreement and their support. The more your goals and purposes promote survival for your employees, your customers, their family, the world, the environment, etc. the more agreement and support you will likely gain.
Can you think of any companies that have founders who have set highly inspirational goals and also happen to be making lots of money?
No one succeeds or survives alone. You need to gain the agreement and support of others to achieve your aims.
Setting high purpose eCommerce business goals creates a solid foundation from which to launch your business and achieve greater success and massive expansion.
Keeping Focused on Your Goals – The Role of the Founder
Within every business, there are specific roles and functions. As the founder and owner of a business, your most important role is that of the Goal Maker. Your Vision for your business can only be achieved by setting high order goals that gain, agreement, support and inspire others to lend their shoulder to the wheel in making that vision a reality.
As a founder, it is not only up to you to set the goals of the business but also to ensure that those goals remain in focus and that planning is done to ensure action is directed toward goal attainment.
High order eCommerce business goals are no different than the goals of other businesses that are trying to make a positive impact on the world. The foundation for goal attainment starts with you, the founder.
Achieving Your Goals One Step at a Time – The Role of Management
Your eCommerce business goals, to be successful, will require skilful management. When starting, it may be that you find yourself as both the founder and the manager of your business. While this cannot always be helped, you must realise you need to have, among your supporting goals, the hiring of skilful managers to replace you in this role.
As the founder, you must create the vision, the goals and keep them visible to your employees and customers. The role of management is to remove or overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of goal attainment.
A good manager serves the rest of your company’s employees through skilful tactical planning and coordination and alignment of action to handle and remove obstacles that hinder goal attainment.
I have often wondered if it is not the lack of visionary goals which is the real cause of failure for so many businesses. Whenever I hear or read the success stories of successful entrepreneurs they usually mention a big dream and the establishment of big goals. What are your thoughts?
Do you have a worthwhile purpose and an eCommerce business goal that will ignite support from others and rocket your business to great heights? If you do, you are well on the way to success and you might yet Conquer Digital Space™
Next article: I will cover why it is vital, that you as a founder, lay down firm company policy to ensure the survival, growth and goal attainment of your eCommerce business.
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