When you’re eyeing growth, an effective e-commerce business development strategy provides a roadmap for reaching your long-term goals. To start off your journey, take note of the basic steps outlined below.
Business development is the activity of maximizing available resources and seeking growth opportunities to increase the value of your business. It can be through improving your products, introducing new items, identifying ideal customers, increasing your market reach or building strategic partnerships with complementary businesses, among others.
Steps in creating e-commerce business development strategies
Here are the steps to consider when creating business development strategies for your e-commerce business.
Know your market
Not everyone who uses the internet is your target market. Offering your products to the public requires huge investment but delivers fewer returns.
What you need instead is a targeted approach — a strategy that captures the interest of your target personas by offering solutions that will either solve their problems or make them feel better about themselves.
To develop targeted business development strategies, start by understanding your market. Make sure you’re armed with extensive information before you sit down to lay down new strategies. This includes knowledge of who you’re trying to sell to and the current economic status of that market.
A way to achieve this is by conducting market research. It involves gathering information about these key three areas:
- Industry and market environment - It includes, but is not limited to, the market demographics, local business regulations, trends, market size and sociographic factors (e.g., lifestyle factors and interests).
- Customers - Gather information on your existing and potential customers, how they buy, their needs and expectations, social and lifestyle trends, and their attitude towards your brand and your competitors. It’s also good to find out how your customers react to your products. Is it positive or negative? What can you do to improve their perception?
- Competitors - Determine your competitors’ current market advantages, pricing structures, promotional strategies, market share, track record, partnerships and branding.
Aside from your market, you must also assess your internal resources to determine your capacity to implement business development strategies.
Define your goals
Goals are crucial when developing e-commerce strategies — they show you where your business is headed and what directions you should take.
Follow the S.M.A.R.T. method when setting up goals. It means your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. They should also be anchored in the insights you’ve gathered from your market research.
What will be your focus? Is it on increasing your profits? Growing your business operations? Increasing the lifetime value of your clients? Or developing corporate partnerships to increase your value as a business?
Collaborate with all departments
Creating effective e-commerce business strategies should be an interdepartmental activity where key employees can brainstorm innovative ideas to increase the potential of the overall business.
Take a look at the examples of how each department can contribute to your e-commerce business development strategy efforts.
- Business development - Look for new growth opportunities for your e-commerce and forge strategic partnerships with other organizations.
- Sales - Figure out how to close deals from the new opportunities brought by the business development team.
- Marketing - Craft targeted marketing messages for different personas and e-commerce platforms.
- Customer service - Deliver excellent after-sales service to existing customers with the end goal of increasing their value through referrals or longer business.
- Accounting - Assist in analyzing and interpreting numerical data to guide decision-making.
- IT - Handle digital initiatives related to business development.
Identify your business development channels
Your business development channels “will help you achieve your targets,” said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), the world’s largest business organization, in an article. USCC further notes that some of the most common channels are cold calls, referrals, networking, advertising and content marketing.
Since the nature of your business is e-commerce, you can also consider other channels such as online marketplaces, email marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
Finalize your e-commerce business development strategy
Once you have all the necessary information, it’ll be easier for you to know your priorities. From there, finalize your business development plan. Specify the key people involved, your objectives, goals, capital, targeted milestones and KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the success of your strategy.
Track results and get feedback
Business development doesn’t stop with planning and implementation. To determine if it’s successful, make sure to track its results based on the KPIs you set.
Another way is to get feedback from your customers. How do they react to your new e-commerce strategies? Have you offered more value to them, and in return, increased the value of your business?
By tracking the progress of your plans, you’ll know if your strategies are effective, sustainable and worthy to pursue in the long run.
E-commerce business development is all about relationship building
Maintaining positive relationships is essential in business development — whether it’s with your employees, customers, suppliers or business partners. Good camaraderie with your stakeholders is the fundamental element you need to obtain more growth opportunities.
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