"A leader should have higher grit and tenacity, and be able to endure what the employees can’t."
Jack Ma, Founder @ Alibaba
During my career in eCommerce, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with thousands of online business owners and entrepreneurs across the globe. Many went on to build online empires while others fell short of their goals. What sets successful eCommerce entrepreneurs apart? What differentiates these entrepreneurs and how do they achieve such remarkable results?
Here are the seven most important lessons I've learned about the secret of their success.
1. They really know their stuff
Truly successful eCommerce business owners all have a distinctive characteristic – they’re all experts in their own field. Not only do they possess an extensive knowledge and understanding of the eCommerce industry as a whole, but the niche market they operate in. From knowing every detail about their product lines and lead times, to the top scraped items in their Returns department. Ask them about their best and worst performing business processes, they’ll give you an immediate answer. Question them about their key performance metrics and biggest pain points, and they can list all the important figures and recall every report.
Passionate leaders care about their business like no one else can. A clear vision of their future helps them keep their business moving forward. And staying well informed ensures they can make crucial business decisions.
2. They recognise the rules of the game
The most successful business owners recognise that times have changed. In the past, online businesses offered a limited range of product and services, and operated from a narrow choice of marketplaces.
Ever-increasing complexities in the eCommerce market continue to place greater challenges on retailers that want to sell online. And with so many places to sell from, opportunities to make a sale may have increased, but so has the time it takes to keep track of activities.
Customer expectations are at record high too. They want to buy any item, wherever they are, on the marketplace they prefer. And what’s more they want to do it from whatever device they use and with the payment method they choose. And it’s not just the point of purchase – customers want choice and control over every aspect of the delivery too – from home delivery to collection, and on specific dates and times.
That’s why successful online retailers constantly look for innovative, affordable ways to deal with the new realities of eCommerce, offering customers more choice, and handling sales in less time – increasing efficiency and profit margins.
3. They have a black belt in spotting bottlenecks
A bottleneck occurs when a resource is equal to or less than the demand placed upon it. They slow down performance and, because there’s no easy fix, in extreme cases it can lead to failure. That’s why successful business owners battle bottlenecks as soon as they see them, and work out a strategy to tackle them in priority order. By turning bottlenecks into short-term, realistic goals and then incorporating those goals into their long term strategy – they defeat the bottleneck and their business continues to grow.
4. They are innovative thinkers
These challenges require some out-of-the-box thinking, and our intrepid entrepreneurs constantly innovate. They never stop searching for more efficient, more cost-effective ways to manage and grow their business. And they’re never shy of proposing a solution that no one else would consider.
Recently, one of the largest eBay businesses came to us here at Linnworks to see if we could help them with an innovative idea. They’d moved into a new warehouse, revised their bin/rack locations, and ordered new hardware to improve their order processing. But their daily orders had risen to 8,000, with only 6 members of staff on hand to process them. What sounded impossible became probable once we saw their innovative proposal. It was unconventional (and we can’t give away their secrets here), but we knew that what worked on paper could work in production.
Three weeks later, our developers had created a script to help them process all 8,000 orders a day without any trouble. And it was their innovative thinking that got results.
5. They know time is what makes everything tick
Shawn, our Director for North America, recently gave a lecture at the Think Global Retail ePitch competition in Las Vegas and said, “Time is our most precious asset, but it’s also our greatest enemy.”
The most successful business owners I’ve met value their time more than they value money, and use time-driven metrics to measure performance.
They realise that reclaiming as little as one hour each day by eliminating an unproductive or ineffective process can make a significant difference over time. One hour saved means you can invest one quality hour in something more important.
6. They love their customers
Startup success is about solving a problem you care about for people you care about. That’s what I’ve been told countless times by many eCommerce heavy weights.
If you don’t love your customers, pick a different industry. If a business starts fault-finding or making fun of their customers – something's very wrong. There’s something immensely satisfying about helping people and caring about the work you do. If your employees love your customers, and care enough to offer great customer service, good things happen. If customers get good customer service, they’ll rave about your company and will refer you to their friends and colleagues. And they’ll become fans of your brand and stay loyal for many years to come. And happy customers mean happy staff too. Job satisfaction increases, and your chances of success go up.
7. They’re dreamers and doers
Last, but not least, the successful entrepreneur dares to dream big. And they don’t just dream. They do. Dreams alone can’t build a business. But vision, combined with action, can. Successful entrepreneurs maintain their motivation against the odds and conventional wisdom, and by doing so achieve remarkable results.
Artem is the Head of Business Development @ Linnworks and oversees all Sales, Marketing and Partnership operations. Join the conversation by leaving your thoughts or questions in the comment section below or connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.