The Ecommerce Health Stage: Growing from $10 to $50 Million
While growing a business from $1 to $10 million requires agility and acquisition, moving that company from $10 to $50 million is a whole new ball game.
When you look at crossing over the $10 million mark and are shooting for upwards of $50 million, there must be a fundamental shift in your organization and how you do business. It’s a complex process that many companies struggle with, particularly because expanding a business requires a very different skill set from launching something new.
This leads to our themes for the Ecommerce Health Stage, which are scale and optimization. At this point, your focus should shift from agility and survival toward scaling for long term growth. To do this, you’re no longer focused solely on customer acquisition, but on optimizing every aspect of your organization. It’s time to address the inefficiencies you got away with in the $1 to $10 million stage, because that is where you’ll find pockets of hidden value.
Where Do I Start?
Let’s look at six areas that will be critical as you scale your business toward $50 million in revenue.
1. Optimize… everything!
Optimization is your lowest hanging fruit as you scale from $10 to $50 million. You probably already know about optimizing your site in order to increase its conversion rate (if you need a refresher, we dive into that important topic here). But you can definitely go deeper than that and should look at optimizing the following:
Many companies outsource their fulfillment, which is a great way to start. However, as you scale, outsourcing may be more expensive than fulfilling orders in house. By moving this internally, you may be able to save money as well as create a lot of value for your customers. If your fulfillment is in-house, you have the opportunity to customize the process and make it more special for your customers. While this is well worth your time, this is a complicated task and will likely need its own experienced department leader.
The key to optimizing your supply chain? Being able to predict your order cycle. In the beginning, most ecommerce store owners use outside suppliers, yet it’s very difficult for them to predict their sales so they don’t order efficiently. Rather than place large orders months in advance that will arrive by ship, they’re forced to air-freight supplies because they need them in a week. Once you’ve reached the Health stage, it’s time to get in the habit of predicting and ordering well in advance to cut costs.
Shipping and Packaging Rates
Once you reach a high enough volume, you have the power to negotiate better rates. As you reach the high volume of shipping and packaging materials, be sure to look at buying in bulk and negotiating better rates with carriers.
It’s common to outsource your customer service team at the beginning, but there are benefits to bringing them in house during the Health stage as well. Consider the cost benefit, as well as what it could do for your customer base. A strong customer service team is key to creating great fans, and if this team is in-house, you can tailor the customer service experience to better serve your customers.
Office Space and Systems
Your systems and processes, communication between departments, and even your office space are likely prime candidates for optimization too. Each of these tasks require unique skill sets, so hiring experienced people to help run departments and improve efficiencies may be necessary to scale these areas.
2. Expand your brand, products, or product lines
Another major opportunity for growth during this stage involves expanding your product line. Although your business was likely born from one product that solved a need in the market, this has the potential to level out by the time you hit $10 milion. The key to growing revenue substantially and exponentially is intentionally releasing more products, which increases both average order value and customer lifetime value. Research other needs in the market and what will work well with your customers, focusing on what new products will have the highest margin for your business.
3. Grow in influence and impact
When you shift your focus from pure survival to healthy growth, you can put greater emphasis on things that grow your brand’s influence and impact. Instead of using all of your revenue for your marketing budget, you can use those funds to invest in your customers and truly create a fan base. You can also begin feeding causes and initiatives that your brand truly cares about. This not only makes the world a better place, but also continues building your brand and helping more people learn about your company, which drives even more growth.
4. Diversify your marketing
In the $1 to $10 million stage, you are acquisition-focused and have to buy every customer. You only pay for marketing that drives the highest return on ad spend, because you can’t afford not to. However, once you’ve moved into the Health stage, you can begin developing channels that don’t have a direct ROI but are still attributable. Take a look at influencer marketing, PR, brand awareness campaigns, or improving SEO. These initiatives don’t have an immediate return, but work incredibly well for growth by bringing more eyes to your brand.
As you do this, continue to shoot for a target average order value of $75 to help fund your marketing. However, rather than spending 45-55% of your revenue on ad spend like we talked about in the Survival stage, you can leverage your sales momentum to scale spend back to closer to 35% of your revenue.
5. Increase customers’ lifetime value
Rather than focusing solely on customer acquisition, the $10 million mark is a great time to look at increasing customers’ lifetime value. Daily sales are on autopilot by this point, and there is enough momentum to look for more value in your customer base. The goal is to get all customers to purchase more than once, and adding additional products is a great way to do that. But before you push additional sales, focus on enriching the customer relationship by staying in touch with them through content marketing. Keep them up-to-date on what’s new in your company, shoot interesting content their way, send product tips and tricks— the point is, you shouldn’t be selling something every time you reach out. Build this engaged, passionate customer base and they will be excited to buy from you again when new products are released!
6. Bring in maturity and leadership
This last piece applies to almost every area we’ve discussed so far. As we’ve already mentioned, scaling a business requires a much different skill set than launching one. In fact, it will require multiple skill sets because so many areas of the business will need optimization in order to scale. Now is the time to bring experienced department leaders to areas such as finance, supply chain, fulfillment, and marketing. This will help grow your business to its fullest potential as well as allow you to focus on your own areas of expertise.
If you’re looking for guidance as you focus on scale and optimization in this Health Stage, click below. We would love to help.
Ready to scale beyond $50 Million? Check out our tips for the Influence Stage (coming soon).