The hard truth: A huge percentage of ecommerce store owners spend their time ineffectively.
Even before we surveyed 1,000+ store owners in February, we knew entrepreneurs were overwhelmed. And that was before a global pandemic forced most people to stay inside, ultimately turning the entire world upside down.
We asked store owners how they spend their time and what they wish they had more time for (you can see the complete study here) and it turns out, 84% of shop owners don’t think they spend their time effectively.
For instance, 33% said marketing will be the key to their store’s success in 2020. Similarly, it was one of the top choices for the biggest return on investment, directly following sales.
However, these same people only spend an average of 7.8 hours on marketing a week. See the problem? They believe that marketing is the key to success, but they aren’t doing it. Even if these priorities might have shifted in the current economic climate, it’s still telling that companies don’t align how they spend their time with the tasks that further their goals.
Why not? Because they’re doing three other roles every day.
Literally. When it comes to daily tasks, 70% of shop owners take on two or more roles in their day-to-day work and 53% take on three or more roles daily.
How to grow when you’re already maxed out
Unfortunately, 30% of store owners solve bandwidth limitations by rolling up their sleeves and doing more work themselves.
But doing more work isn’t a strategy you can scale indefinitely. At some point, you’ll hit your ceiling and you won’t be able to take on any more work. And as we’ve experienced firsthand, sometimes circumstances beyond our control force us to take on more work than we could’ve planned for.
So what’s an already-swamped store owner to do?
The same people who want to spend more time on marketing aren’t using technology to take work off their plate:
- Most shop owners—60%—don’t utilize technology to reduce the time they spend on ecommerce tasks.
- Most shop owners—65%—don’t utilize technology to reduce the time they spend on marketing tasks.
- About half—49%—of shop owners don’t utilize technology to reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks.
And shop owners aren’t automating for these reasons:
- Cost (40%)
- Lack of knowledge (29%)
- Lack of personnel to manage the technology (27%)
But the right technology should accommodate you and your needs, not vice versa—you shouldn’t have to restructure your team to implement a new technology.
After all, technology is supposed to make your job easier, not harder. Below, we’ve written up a checklist for you to utilize when deciding whether a new platform will make your job easier—or not.
See more research findings in the guide, Ecommerce Confessions.
New technology checklist
1. Is this technology built for small businesses?
Small businesses have unique needs from their bigger counterparts. If this weren’t true, you could pick any technology and merely pay for less of it or use it less frequently than bigger businesses do.
You’ll find that many small businesses—and ecommerce stores in particular—use the same big name technology suites as the major ecommerce players.
But that’s probably not the best fit for your store’s unique needs. Instead, try to find a solution that addresses small businesses as separate entities. If not, you might need to keep looking for a different solution.
2. Does this technology offer support that will have your back when you need it?
There’s an unfortunate amount of fine print that comes along with a company’s promise of support.
If something goes wrong with your technology, you’ll need to be able to find a solution—and fast. For some ecommerce stores, human support you can reach with a quick phone call might be best. However, some people might prefer to work with a company that has a fully-stocked resource center with helpful articles they can tackle on their own time.
Don’t forget that a lot of technology has online forums stocked with experts that can help you even if those experts aren’t officially connected with the company.
Either way, you’ll want to make sure that a technology has an accompanying form of support that works for you regardless of your time zone or business hours.
3. Is the price of this technology flexible?
As we saw in our survey, cost is the biggest hurdle prohibiting store owners from incorporating more technology. And we get it. Especially right now, cash is king. Store owners—and all small business owners for that matter—need to protect their bottom line. Working with limited resources means every penny has to pull its weight.
But technology doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
When deciding on whether or not your store can afford a certain technology, see if there are multiple package options that come with various prices. If you can mix and match your needs and only pay for what you use, you’re less likely to spend more than you can make back.
This also goes back to question number one: If a technology is built for small businesses and understands the unique challenges your store will face, they’re more likely to work with you to find the package that meets your needs and your price point.
4. Does this technology come with onboarding resources?
Onboarding resources are critical to getting a new technology up and running without costing your ecommerce store people power and time—things your store doesn’t have to spare if you’re anything like the store owners we talked to.
Any technology you add to your plate should ultimately make your life easier. That means you shouldn’t need an advanced degree to get set up and running.
If you can’t set up a technology on your own, you probably won’t be able to troubleshoot when you run into problems. Finding tools that have little learning curve, or even have premade templates and workflows to get you started, may be the make-or-break on whether the technology can truly help you grow.
These four questions are meant to help you find the technology that fits within your needs without breaking your budget—or upsetting your calendar.
At some point, you have to have the space to prepare for growth before you’re overwhelmed. Plan ahead and think critically about your store’s needs, and incorporating a new technology will be well worth the initial investment of money and time.
Learn more from the research study.
The stats we cite in this blog are taken from our recent research study, Ecommerce Confessions: How 1000+ Store Owners Spend Their Time. You can read more insights and download the entire guide here.