Running an online business of any variety is tricky: the lack of a physical location greatly expands your opportunities, but with that comes a lot of pressure to take advantage of them.
The pressure is even greater for e-commerce companies, given how competitive the field is — fail to keep up with the competition, and you’ll struggle to stay afloat.
One of the keys to success is mastering your project management.
This is because an e-commerce website is both a project in itself (ever-changing to keep up with shifting shopper preferences) and a source of numerous smaller projects, such as running a marketing campaign, sourcing a new supplier, or gathering customer feedback.
But what does great project management look like? How do you achieve it? We can help.
Let’s run through 5 easy project management tips that every digital business should follow:
Set clear trackable goals with compelling metrics
Though almost every e-commerce project will have the ultimate goal of selling more products, it’s unfortunately common for a business to forget entirely about setting specific goals.
A bad project manager might decide that it’s worth carrying out some influencer marketing, then simply assume that it was worth it if the influencer in question gets a lot of hits for the relevant content.
This is a big mistake.
Every project needs goals that are both clear and easily-tracked. For instance, an influencer marketing effort might have the goal of directly yielding 200% ROI through sales coming through custom URLs.
Alternatively, it might simply be looking to build up positive brand mentions on social media, in which case it might seek to yield 100 such mentions within a week using a fresh hashtag generated for the influencer. Use metrics that you can easily log within Google Analytics, and ensure that everything is logged as a conversion goal with a value.
Monitor and track the use of time
E-commerce businesses often rely on remote working and flexible hours because they’re ideally suited to them, and they’re great for productivity. That said, they’re somewhat harder for monitoring.
This is a problem because time is a precious resource, and it’s hard to manage a team effectively when you don’t know where time is being wasted.
Think of virtual assistants. Do you know how they’re using the time you’ve paid for? This is what Timeneye was designed to help with. Get everyone in your business operating on the same page and tracking their time in the same way. You can then look through the time logs to determine exactly where time is being lost through inefficiency, and start making changes.
Choose the right e-commerce business tools
Because so much of an online business takes place through digital systems (and even in the cloud), it’s mission-critical that you base your company on the right foundations.
Choose well, and you can scale your business smoothly, keep your team ticking along, and cut down on wasted costs through automation.
Ideally, every e-commerce business would run on a simple and scalable CMS like Shopify, allowing the hosting to scale with massive growth. It would use tools like Timeneye to track time, and use a project management tool like Basecamp to keep all relevant files and notes in one location.
Are there freeware alternatives? Sure — but anything you saved in money that way would subsequently be lost through horrible efficiency.
Never stop iterating and testing
You plan a project, implement it, achieve the goal (or goals), and move on.
That’s how most people would operate in most instances, but ecommerce is a different beast. There, very few projects are ever truly finished. Instead, they’re iterated. You plan some website updates, get them drafted, run them as A/B variants to see how they perform, then go right back to planning. Optimizely has some great options for product teams.
Why? Because there’s no such thing as a perfect store, or a perfect product listing, or a perfect checkout service. There’s always something that could improve. Couple in the aforementioned variability of e-commerce tactics, and you have all the reason you’d ever need to keep going with the improvements and never stop.
Use a scaling budget to account for change
Creating a small business budget is a mandatory part of running and growing a sustainable business, because you’ll always need to be investing and reinvesting in your business.
One problem that comes up a lot with e-commerce is that a budget that seemed right to begin with can become a problem — it can suddenly become too little, or even too much.
This is down to two things: old methods becoming more or less effective (such as SEO tactics losing potency after Google algorithm changes), and sales fluctuating massively. If you happen upon a hit product, you might suddenly have an opportunity to make a lot of money from it, but only if you can budget for it.
That’s why you should have a budget that’s flexible to some extent and scales with your revenue or profit.
Although this post focuses on ecommerce businesses, the advice can be applied to almost any digital business.
Setting your metrics, monitoring time, using the right tools, testing, and using scaling a budget are all project management tips that will help you stay on schedule, improve productivity, and gain a competitive advantage no matter what type of online business you run.
Cover image via Needpix.com