5 eCommerce growth strategies to help you navigate uncertain times

Lauren Crawford

One look at the latest news headlines reveals that we’re continuing to live and work through uncertain economic times. Inflation is rising, interest rates are climbing (with the RBA hiking rates four times already in 2022) and the flow of VC funding is slowing down for many startups and companies. 

But even in these challenging conditions, there are opportunities to grow. As an eCommerce business, you can ride through the choppy waters ahead by operating lean, moving fast on emerging trends and scaling without blowing your budgets. 

With the right strategies in place, your eCommerce business can continue to attract new customers, experiment with new marketing tactics and drive sales. No matter what the next few months or years have in store, we’ve rounded up five simple eCommerce growth strategies you can use to scale with confidence.   

Growth strategy 1 - Find savings where you can

Expenses are unavoidable in business. But there are ways to trim down how much you spend on essentials like SaaS subscriptions and new stock.

First up, get clear on where your revenue is currently going and audit your existing expenses. Are you still paying for software that your team isn’t using anymore? By reviewing your recent transactions, you’ll be able to find and ditch any irrelevant subscriptions. 

Speaking of subscriptions, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best deal on any platforms you’re using. Many SaaS products offer special offers or sales throughout the year (particularly around EOFY or at major sales milestones, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday).

Plus, it's worth checking whether you can score a better rate by switching from a monthly to an annual subscription. If you know you’re going to get long-term value out of the platform, committing to a longer subscription period can save you hundreds of dollars a year. 

It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re not being hit with hidden charges or fees from the products you’re using, too. When picking a corporate card, find a provider that offers no FX fees (like Cape). This has the potential to save you thousands, especially if you’re regularly paying for USD subscriptions. 

Growth strategy 2 - Embed learning into everything you do

The eCommerce landscape is rapidly evolving. The best way to stay ahead and anticipate any bumps in the road is to adopt a growth mindset that prioritises a test-and-learn approach.

Here’s why: research from McKinsey reveals that over half of companies with the top 10% of revenue growth had one thing in common: they effectively prioritised testing new ideas and innovating their products, services and ways of working.

In practical terms, here are the steps you can take to embed learning into everything you do as an eCommerce business:

  • Test new marketing and advertising concepts, from content formats to copywriting messages and even A/B testing visuals and graphic design. 
  • Experiment with your website’s optimisation and conversion tactics, from the placement of call-to-action buttons to the use of pop-ups and even edits to sales pages.
  • Be adaptable, nimble and willing to embrace change. Don’t be afraid to test new products, experiment with ways of working or approach projects from a new angle. 

Growth strategy 3 - Get a credit facility that stabilises your cash flow

Do you struggle with late payments from suppliers? You’re not alone. Research has revealed that SMEs are waiting a whopping 56 days to be paid. Interestingly, the smaller a business’s size, the longer they’re waiting for payment from suppliers. 

Cash flow is what will keep your business running, especially as an eCommerce brand with high upfront costs for stock. But waiting for payments to come through isn’t your only option. 

In uncertain times when cash flow can be unpredictable, it’s worth finding a corporate card that offers low or even no fees. These cards can give you access to capital when you need it, removing your reliance on suppliers and marketplace sales. 

Growth strategy 4 - Adopt low-cost marketing tactics

Attracting new customers doesn’t have to blow your marketing budget as an eCommerce business. There are stacks of affordable marketing tactics that can deliver bang for your buck.

Rather than going all out on traditional advertising or costly celebrity endorsements, it's worth doubling down on organic marketing strategies and low-investment campaigns. 

In practical terms, that could look like:

  • Expand your partnerships strategy and align your eCommerce business with like-minded brands and businesses relevant to your target customers. 
  • Dabble in affiliate marketing which is usually free to join and can help get your product and brand in front of relevant new audiences. 
  • Ditch the algorithms and refocus on owned marketing channels. By growing your mailing list you can communicate directly with potential customers, without having to pay thousands of dollars to run social media ads.
  • Identify relevant Facebook and LinkedIn Groups where you can connect with and learn from individuals who have been on the eCommerce growth journey.

Growth strategy 5 - List your products on multiple marketplaces

Think beyond your own eCommerce store and expand your horizons by getting your brand stocked in digital marketplaces. Selling your products via marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy can instantly increase your reach and get your goods in front of new customers. 

An even lower cost option is exploring Dropshipping marketplaces (such as Modalyst or Oberlo). Rather than adding your products to marketplaces or selling them via your own website, you can list your products on these platforms, and other online retailers will promote your products to their audience - you just handle the shipping. 

Plus, it’s worth harnessing the power of social commerce and getting your eCommerce set up to sell through your social media channels (like Instagram). With Instagram Shopping, you can easily promote your products to thousands of users for free and streamline the checkout process (as sales can happen directly through the Isntagram ecosystem for verified retailers).

Final thoughts

When it comes to navigating uncertain times as an eCommerce business, putting growth on the backburner doesn’t have to be your only option. By reviewing your expenses, adjusting your marketing strategies and getting the right cash flow tools in place, you can keep sales climbing (no matter what economic uncertainty lies ahead).