Running an online business can be challenging, especially as your operation gets larger. It is easy for inefficiencies to emerge as your scale. These can sap your resources and hurt your bottom line. Fortunately, it is possible to enhance your processes and become more efficient. The following strategies can help you to improve your business.
1) Start by Analyzing What Isn’t Working
Before you start trying to make any changes, analyze what isn’t working currently. You can do this with a combination of quantitative and qualitative measurements. For example, you may measure the rate at which orders pass through your system. You may notice that items are getting bottlenecked when they are being packaged for shipping.
Additionally, by talking to people and learning from the workers “in the trenches,” you can identify possible faults based on their expertise. This can sometimes reveal issues that a purely quantitative analysis wouldn’t.
2) Integrate Your Operations Systems
System integration is a great way to improve your efficiency. When your data flows through your system from end-to-end, there is less chance of human error. Additionally, many tasks can be performed by computers much faster than they can by people. Therefore, any time you can eliminate manual entry, you can save time and money.
Ideally, your entire flow from taking an order to shipping and receiving payment should be connected. Additionally, those systems should also connect with reporting and bookkeeping software.
3) Simplify Credentials
Do you have multiple systems that your team members need to log into and control? This can cause confusion and often leads to poor security because of reused, weak passwords. Instead, consider using a single sign-on solution.
Using this, you can have people log in with a single set of credentials. Your SSO system then sends a SAML assertion to every other system that needs authentication so they can access all the necessary resources without signing in again. It is easier for your people to work with, more secure and prevents productivity loss due to lost passwords or lockouts.
4) Simply Your Processes End-To-End
Whenever possible, try to reduce the complexity of your workflows. Many teams find that their processes become overly complex because they were pieced together while scaling. For
example, you may have a legacy workflow for your inventory management that requires manual reconciling. You may be able to eliminate this slow, manual step by upgrading to a better recordkeeping workflow.
As mentioned above, many processes may not be integrated fully with each other. This is another opportunity for simplification. By piecing together your processes more carefully, you can reduce redundancy and complexity.
5) Apply Automation
Whenever possible, use automation. People are almost always more expensive than automated processes. Additionally, they are more likely to make mistakes. Using automation can save time and money. If you want to improve the return on investment that you see from your business, automation may be a key element.
There are many types of work that can only be performed by people. So, focus your employees on doing tasks that require “wetware.” You will get a far higher return on investment that way.
6) Measure, Evaluate and Repeat
Finally, implement ways to continuously measure and evaluate your business workflows. This is perhaps the most important change you can make to improve your overall efficiency. If you are constantly gathering data and evaluating performance, you can find ways to run a smoother business.
Fortunately, for online businesses, even very large ones, this can be relatively easily implemented. Most internal processes need to be at least assisted by software. So, you likely already have access to a lot of the data that you need. You simply need to set up automatic reporting so you can oversee your operations.
Try some of the above techniques to improve the efficiency of your large online business. These tips may help you improve your bottom-line results significantly. If you can be more efficient, you can grow your brand more effectively.